“Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. … Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future.” Read the full letter HERE.
It’s, like, really warm out today and has been consistently this week. Which, on the whole, is a good thing. One can’t help but wonder, however, when crazy things happen like flowers blossoming on trees. In January. Presumably, this is bad for the trees. I mean, it has to be, right? Plus, it’s actually a little unnerving — unnatural — and it makes me fear what will happen in August. 130 degrees? Will giant half-melted bits of the polar ice cap come sliding down from Canada and crush my house?
I have concerns.
In Oct. 2003, 77 senators voted to give President Bush authorization to go to war in Iraq. Just 23 senators voted against it.
But according to a new ABC News survey, 33 out of the original 77 senators “indicated they would vote differently knowing then what they know now.” Five senators — including three Republicans — said that in retrospect, the intelligence was so wrong that the matter should never have even been brought to a vote. These results would mean that a vote to authorize war in Iraq today would be 43-57, and the resolution would fail. (Full list of senators here.)
ABC News senior political correspondent Jake Tapper presented the survey results today on Good Morning America, noting that the survey of the senators was “a stunning repudiation of their own votes, the prewar intelligence, and the war itself.” Watch it:
According to a December CBS News poll, just 39 percent of the American public now believes that the “United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq.”
Transcript: Read more
“to assail rumored Bush candidate to head Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Association of Manufacturers lobbyist Michael Baroody.” Rachel Weintraub of the Consumer Federation of America notes, “It’s sort of astonishing that the administration would pick someone from a regulated industry.”
Last night on ABC News, newly elected Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS) said she would support funding for 20,000-40,000 more troops in Iraq because President Bush “is the commander in chief. …We don’t get that choice. Congress doesn’t make that decision.” Watch it:
Boyda is wrong on the facts. A recent Center for American Progress memo explains how Congress could — and should — prevent Bush from sending more troops into a civil war in Iraq without a clear mission. An excerpt:
Although the new Congress should not refuse to provide the funds that the troops already in Iraq and Afghanistan need, it can place an amendment on the supplemental funding bill that states that if the administration wants to increase the number of troops in Iraq above 150,000, it must provide a plan for their purpose and require an up or down vote on exceeding that number.
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq war veteran, came out strongly in opposition to escalation, saying, “We need to listen to the military experts, people like Gen. Colin Powell, Gen. Abizaid, that say, ‘Listen, the surge isn’t going to work.’” Another newly elected member, Rep. Health Shuler (D-NC) was more circumspect. Shuler said he didn’t think escalation was “the solution” but would consider it if “that’s what our military leaders said.”
Transcript: Read more
So, I’ve been remiss in extending my Somalia coverage into the New Year, but suffice it to say that having foiled the Islamists plans to make a last stand in Kismayo, the Ethiopian-backed government is suffering from some chaos issues: “Just days after Ethiopian-led troops helped rout once powerful Islamist forces in Somalia and install a new government in the capital, security seemed to be unraveling across the country.” Violence is coming in two forms, “antigovernment attacks and increased banditry, both of which were virtually unheard of during the Islamists’ short-lived reign.” Washington Post reports on the return of warlordism to Mogadishu.
I’m in a foul mood and, frankly, shit like this article from Roger Cohen in the International Herald-Tribune doesn’t improve the mood. It’s a column in praise of the Euston Manifesto which, we’re told, “has received too little attention” because it’s too sane. Whatever. It’s the end that rankles, however:
If you’re tired of sterile screaming in the wilderness, tired of the comfortably ensconced “hindsighters” poring over every American error in Iraq, tired of facile anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism masquerading as anti- Zionism, try the Euston road in 2007. It might actually lead somewhere.
I don’t know how others feel about this, but I have to believe I’m not the only Jewish American who’s getting tired of constantly having vague accusations of anti-semitism smeared around in my general direction. I mean, forget the anti-semitism. Since when has anti-Zionism become such a powerful force in American politics that we need the Euston Manifesto to save us all? But of course we’re not talking about anti-semitism or anti-Zionism here. We’re just talking about ordinary political disagreement. The article comes to me via Martin Peretz, who’s status as a cosignatory of the Manifesto proudly demonstrates what a hollow farce it is to present the document as some kind of left position.
Yesterday on MSNBC, Trent Lott (R-MS), the second ranking Republican in the Senate, said that he may oppose troop escalation in Iraq. Watch it:
Lott’s comments are particularly significant because, as the Minority Whip, he’s responsible for bringing his caucus in line with the Senate leadership’s position. If he’s not for escalation in Iraq, it’s unlikely there will be any serious effort in the Senate to get other members of his caucus to support it.
Transcript: Read more
Another day, another bad budget article in The Washington Post. Describing what happened after the 1997 budget deal, we learn:
The deficit disappeared sooner than that, and when Clinton left office the nation had its first surplus in three decades. But fiscal fortunes took a turn under Bush as he ushered in huge tax cuts, an early recession took its toll and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, prompted a wave of new spending on the military and homeland defense.
9/11 and the small economic downturn early in Bush’s term were “fortunes.” Bush tax cuts, however, were not luck, they were policy choices. Similarly, while we can assume any president would have engage in 9/11-related defense spending, we can’t just describe Bush’s decision to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on invading Iraq as a straightforward consequence of 9/11. Worse, not only is all of this lumped in as “fortunes” but we’re given no sense of the magnitude. How big were the tax cuts compared to revenue lost from the downturn? How much defense spending has there been and how much of that has been in Iraq? With information like that, readers might learn something from reading their morning paper.
People seeking information about the federal budget would be well-advised to look at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ slide show and their general federal budget page. The Washington Post offers pretty good Wizards coverage and their DC Sports Blog is a treat.
Lots of personnel moves in the national security department. John Negroponte is out as Director of National Intelligence and in as Deputy Secretary of State. Harriet Miers will no longer be in charge of explaining why torture is legal. What’s more, David Petraeus won’t be taking my advice and will instead assume command in Iraq where the world will get to see his counterinsurgency theories fail. Zalmay Khalilzad will be out as ambassador in Baghdad and move to Turtle Bay instead (John Bolton, I guess, will spend more time with his family).
Khalilzad’s replacement will be Ryan Crocker, a career foreign service officer with an interesting resumé. At the moment, he’s ambassador to Pakistan. During the late Clinton years, however, he was ambassador to Syria and he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs during the early Bush/Powell years. With Crocker and Petraeus leading the team in Iraq, I don’t think it will any longer be viable to claim that the mission is failing because it’s being run by hacks and know-nothings; the mission will fail because the mission is impossible. Last, in a break with precedent Bush will put a Navy officer, Admiral William Fallon in charge of Central Command.