May 10, 2007

Shock and Awe: a NYT Iraq Article That Gets It Right!

Hatched by Dafydd

We have reached an epoch of media madness in America; it is the age of insanity when the mere fact that a news analysis story in the New York Times, the Great Gray Lady, is neither irrational nor unpatriotic sends shock waves through the Lizard's nest.

The article simply lays out, in a straightforward manner, the situation between the president and Congress on Iraq:

  • Congress demands some set of benchmarks (both military and political), so they can follow whether we're winning or losing in Iraq, which seems eminently reasonable to me;
  • President Bush is willing, so long as failure of the Iraqis to meet them is not tied to withdrawal of troops, training, or reconstruction money. The incentives should be positive, not negative, the president argues (this isn't mentioned in the NYT article, but Bush has said it before);
  • Separately, "moderate Republicans" have bluntly told Bush that "conditions needed to improve markedly by the fall or more Republicans would desert him on the war."
  • The Democrats are pushing a "piecemeal" funding of the war... funding through July and forcing Bush to return, hat in hand, for the last two months of funding at that time;
  • Bush will veto that bill (if it even passes), and Congress will again sustain his veto.

The best paragraph in the entire article is this one, which finally puts a rational "spin" on the angst of the American voter, and how it affected the 2006 election:

“The American people are war-fatigued,” one participant in the meeting, Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois [R, 80%], told CNN today. “The American people want to know that there’s a way out. The American people want to know that we’re having success.”

That's it; that's it exactly: Americans hate to lose, but they love a winner. What disturbs them is not that we invaded. They're not upset that we toppled Saddam Hussein -- Bush's approval rating shot upward when that happened, as it did later when we captured the tyrant. Nor are they sad that the Iraqis held three honest votes and now govern themselves; all of that is good, not bad.

But Americans are angry that since the end of 2004, the "nation-building" part of our operation has lagged terribly; our "war of attrition" worked no better in Iraq under Gens. George Casey and John Abizaid than it did in Vietnam under Gen. William Westmoreland.

Americans are starting to think not only that our strategy (then) was a failure, but that the Iraqi leaders betrayed us, using American troops to overturn the Baathist tyranny, only to institute a majority Shiite tyranny instead.

Bush sold them on a war to create a stable, democratic state, one that can defend itself, in the heart of the Arab Middle East; and they bloody well want to see that, not just replacing King Log with another log, or worse, with King Stork (if Iraq becomes an Iranian puppet state).

Back to the funding bill. A separate AP story adds that, while the "installment plan" funding bill will likely pass in the House, it's very unlikely to pass in the Senate; so Bush won't even get the chance to veto it:

Defiant House Democrats advanced legislation Thursday to pay for military operations in Iraq on the installment plan, ignoring President Bush's veto threat in a complex test of wills over the unpopular war....

But in an increasingly complex political environment, even that measure was deemed to be dead on arrival in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow advantage and the rules give Republicans leverage to block legislation.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. has met privately in recent days with White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the beginning of talks aimed at producing a compromise funding bill that the president would sign.

And I believe that at last, we're seeing the shape of things to come. This is what I predict to happen anent funding our troops in battle:

  1. The House will pass the installment-plan funding bill, sending it to the Senate.
  2. While the Senate debates it, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, 84%) will continue to discuss benchmarks, eventually crafting a short list of events without timetables attached. The White House will be intimately involved in the agreement and will sign off on the compromise.
  3. The party leaders will then jointly introduce a separate funding agreement that includes the list of benchmarks and attaches positive-reinforcement measures to them... big, fat carrots whenever the Iraqis meet one of the goals.

    The compromise will fund the troops through September 30th, the end of the fiscal year, the next time funding could be sought -- and not coincidentally, the time Gen. David Petraeus said he would be able to make a thorough preliminary assessment of how well the counterinsurgency plan is working.

    If "conditions" are going to "improve markedly," that's when we'll know it. If things are no better, if the counterinsurgency isn't working at all, then it's time to reevaluate our remaining options... and to hunker down for a bitter, defensive war against global jihadism.

  4. When the president announces that he will sign it (assuming no poison pills), the full-funding, benchmark-containing bill will be co-sponsored by more than 70 senators, strongly bipartisan.
  5. The overwhelmingly Senate will vote to replace the installment-plan funding bill with the benchmark bill, while still keeping same name and bill number; this is a trick to get around the constitutional requirement that funding bills originate in the House... technically, it will have. The Senate will simply jack up the title and run an entirely new bill underneath.
  6. The House, after much melodramatic hysteria, will pass the same bill... albeit much more reluctantly and with much more of a "Republican" vote; there will probably be just enough Democrats to ensure passage, and none of them from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

    Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) will ensure that no liberal will have to vote for it, but that it will pass nonetheless; she is desperate both to assuage MoveOn ("Those traitorous conservative Democrats betrayed us!") -- but not weak for the reelection of House members in red and purple districts ("See? We funded the troops!").

  7. The president will sign the bill, and Congress can get back to the crusade that the American people elected them to fight: endless investigations of every, single individual in the Bush admininstration, from Attorney General Gonzales and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice down to the White House janitors and PFC. Schlimazel in advanced mess school in the Army.

I will continue my unbridled optimism and hope; try and stop me! I believe that by the end of September, Gen. Petraeus will be able to report -- honestly and candidly -- that we have seen a stunning improvement in Iraq, and that we can begin withdrawing significant numbers of troops.

I may be wrong; I was wrong about the 2006 election (but not about 2004, even back in 2003, when everyone and his monkey's paw was predicting President Dean). But if I'm right, just see what happens to (a) Bush's approval rating, (b) the percent of Americans who say the Iraq war was "worth it," and (c) the "head to head" matchups between Republican and Democratic candidates. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: let's see how victory in Iraq affects the war on global jihadism, too.

I refuse to believe that the Western world will commit cultural suicide; not while I have breath and hope. Emily Dickinson wrote that "hope is the thing with feathers." We need hope to fight; hopelessness breeds only despair and surrender.

The surrender wing of Congress is "the thing that should be tarred and feathered."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 10, 2007, at the time of 4:20 PM

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The following hissed in response by: madconductor

As usual, your analysis is excellent reading. I like your optimism - I'm also optimistic about success victory.
Your parables of the future with Democrats actually getting something done are realistic for the most part. Not sure the Bush-is-Hitler nutroots kiddies will play well in the sandbox with the other grownups - but who the hell cares? They aren't playing well with their own party.
As for the NYT, I don't think we're on the flying pig moment - not just yet. In September, with a positive report from Petraeus, the NYT will claim they helped win the war.

But that would actually be a "Lying Pig" moment.

The above hissed in response by: madconductor [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2007 5:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent analysis, Dafydd. I added an excerpt and link to my 2007.05.10 Dem Perfidy // Islamism Delenda Est Roundup. btw the House bill did pass as expected.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2007 6:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

“The American people are war-fatigued,” one participant in the meeting, Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois [R, 80%], told CNN today. “The American people want to know that there’s a way out. The American people want to know that we’re having success

Isn't it a good thing the American people did not fatigue so easily 200 and some odd years ago?

I think it was about 5 years almost exactly after the First Shots of the Revolutionary War that Charleston South Carolina Fell and Gen Lincoln surrendered with his entire Army to the British.

Had we the same caliber of statespersons then as today we would be lucky to be a commonwealth by now.

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2007 7:46 PM

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