Guest Commentary: Charlie Brown’s Son To Serve Fourth Rotation in Iraq

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Guest Commentary by Bill Ritter

A few days ago I read Congressional Candidate Charlie Brown’s post on the nationally acclaimed progressive blog: The Daily Kos.

Charlie’s son, a USAF Captain, has been ordered to return for a fourth tour of duty in Iraq.

Once again for the Brown family this needless and unnecessary war in Iraq has been brought close to home. Please see Charlie Brown’s post below.

This follows the announcement by Bush/Cheney Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reported by the Associated Press & the Huffington Post:

“Stretched thin by four years of war, the Army is adding three months to the standard yearlong tour for all active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, an extraordinary step aimed at maintaining the troop buildup in Baghdad.”

I had the honor of meeting Charlie Brown and his wife Jan during the fall election of 2006. Charlie was the Democratic Party nominee for Congress to represent the 4th Congressional District of California. Charlie & Jan (both retired USAF officers and neither one a politician) were carrying forth their patriotic duty to oppose this war which they knew to be unjust, unnecessary and begun with false motives. In the true spirit of practicing one’s citizenship, they waged a valiant campaign seeking to remove from the Congress one of the biggest proponents of the Iraq War: John Doolittle.

Military veterans throughout the district joined them in their effort and some national war heroes such as Gen. Wesley Clark, former US Senator Max Cleland as well as former Congressman Pete McCloskey came to campaign for Charlie. All these men together with Charlie Brown (a war veteran too) know that you go to war only as a last resort and you had better be certain of the need to do so and how to win your objective. And your war must be a just one, a moral one to sustain the support of the American people, our allies and the good citizens of the world who share this planet with us.

The Bush/Cheney Iraq War is a disaster for our country in every way. We must work everyday in some way to remove these horrible politicians including Doolittle who continue to take this country down the path of disaster.

This past fall, together with friends and political allies, I organized two events in Davis to raise money for Charlie’s campaign to unseat the corrupt and pro-Iraq war Congressman John Doolittle. None of us could vote for Charlie, but we could walk precincts, work phone banks and raise money. Why would we do this? Because our country is in serious, serious trouble and just voting for our local Congressman Mike Thompson is not enough.

With the election of Speaker Nancy Pelosi the Congress has begun to change the direction of this country, but it is not fast enough for the Bush/Cheney Iraq War continues as Americans and other human beings continue to die and our country is going bankrupt both financially and morally.

We must strengthen the Congress with additional voices of reason and sound judgment as well as elect a president who will end this war. The Bush/Cheney Iraq War has made our nation less safe and more vulnerable not only to terrorism, but to fiscal mismanagement and the war profiteering corruption which will wreck havoc on our citizens for generations to come. This insanity must stop.

I urge everyone to enlist once again in supporting Charlie Brown for Congress. We came close to electing him in 2006 and with your help we can do it in 2008.

He can be contacted at:

Email: info@brown4congress.org

Phone: (916) 792-7696

Mail: P.O. Box 368, Roseville, CA 95661

CA04: MY SON IS OFF TO SERVE HIS 4th ROTATION IN IRAQ

by Charlie Brown for Congress

Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 09:30:44 AM PDT

Most Americans woke up this morning ready to read the morning paper, listen to the news, and check their computer to see what the day would bring.

Jan and I woke up knowing that today our son deployed for his fourth rotation in Iraq. We woke up knowing that for the next several months, the last thing we do at night and the first thing we do in the morning will be checking the internet for news out of a war zone…for word from our son.

We are in the minority: parents, spouses, and friends with a loved one in Iraq. Knowing from experience about the true cost of war, we questioned the justification and execution of this policy before it was popular. We learned first hand about the lack of proper equipment before others read about it in the newspaper. We checked prices for top quality body armor to send our son while the GOP led Congress fiddled. And long before the Walter Reed scandal broke, we followed the aftercare problems facing our troops, their families, and surviving dependents as our son talked about the injured and dead his unit flies out of Iraq.

The truth doesn’t only set you free, it strengthens your resolve to fight for what’s right.

Like many other veterans and military parents, my wife (who served as an Air Force Nurse) and I have borne the burden of far more truth than is typically presented to the general public. We learned about contractor fraud from an auditor I used to fly helicopters with who monitors contracts in Iraq—about the slower than reported progress on Iraqi civil infrastructure projects from a Marine civil engineer who was stationed in Iraq—about our long since discredited intelligence on the war from people on the ground who I worked with during my own 26 year military career. And, as a longtime subscriber to ‘professional’ military publications, I learned years ago that the military has not been quiet about the problems it is facing–you just had to know where to look, and you had to be willing to listen to the experts on the ground.

Now that this information is more public, most Americans disapprove of U.S. policy in Iraq, and are justifiably outraged over the care given to our troops when they come home.

Welcome to our world.

We thank those of you reading this for caring, for working to spread the truth, and for helping to elect a new Congress in 2006 that is fighting for change. That’s what “supporting the troops” is all about, but it is only a beginning.

Representatives like my 2006 opponent John Doolittle are still voting to send people like my son into combat without proper equipment, training, or a plan for success. They are still refusing to make personal sacrifices to support our armed forces, or hold the administration and Iraqi politicians accountable for results instead of rhetoric.

I suppose that’s easy to do as long as it’s someone else’s child fighting and dying, but it is not the American way, and it is certainly not patriotism.

We need good people in the military, and we owe those who serve the benefit of competent civilian leadership, and seamless aftercare when they become veterans. Families like ours know this truth all to well. We know that resolving these issues at a human level is not about having all the answers—it’s about having the right priorities and the courage to ask the right questions.

We are proud of our son and the troops who protect our beloved country. They truly are our best and brightest.

And that’s why Jan and I are as determined as ever to ensure we have a government that cares as much as we do about the safety and success of our men and women in uniform.

Be safe son. And come home soon.

Charlie Brown, Lt. Col. USAF Ret.

—Bill Ritter reporting

Bill Ritter, a political consultant, is a community activist in Davis and Yolo County. He is a past Chair of the Yolo Democratic Party and a past President of the Davis Democratic Club. He is also a former Aide to Congressman Vic Fazio and a former Chair of the City of Davis Human Relations Commission.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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72 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Charlie Brown’s Son To Serve Fourth Rotation in Iraq”

  1. Don Shor

    If you happen to be reading this, Charlie, thank you, your wife, and thanks to your son for your family’s service to our country.

    “the military has not been quiet about the problems it is facing…”
    That is correct. Military Times has been a valuable source of information about deployments, Walter Reed, and other issues affecting military readiness.

  2. Don Shor

    If you happen to be reading this, Charlie, thank you, your wife, and thanks to your son for your family’s service to our country.

    “the military has not been quiet about the problems it is facing…”
    That is correct. Military Times has been a valuable source of information about deployments, Walter Reed, and other issues affecting military readiness.

  3. Don Shor

    If you happen to be reading this, Charlie, thank you, your wife, and thanks to your son for your family’s service to our country.

    “the military has not been quiet about the problems it is facing…”
    That is correct. Military Times has been a valuable source of information about deployments, Walter Reed, and other issues affecting military readiness.

  4. Don Shor

    If you happen to be reading this, Charlie, thank you, your wife, and thanks to your son for your family’s service to our country.

    “the military has not been quiet about the problems it is facing…”
    That is correct. Military Times has been a valuable source of information about deployments, Walter Reed, and other issues affecting military readiness.

  5. Rich Rifkin

    Nothing annoys me more about partisans of whatever party than when they abuse the language for their partisan ends or they just repeat the same catch phrases.

    For example, my skin crawls when I hear Republican partisans refer, ad nauseum, to the “Democrat” Party, when it is the Democratic Party.

    Here, the writer refers repeatedly to the Bush/Cheney over and over and over again. I don’t necessarily disagree with his points. I just think he hurts his arguments with such a partisan writing style:

    1. “This follows the announcement by Bush/Cheney Secretary of Defense Robert Gates…”

    2. “The Bush/Cheney Iraq War is a disaster…”

    3. “… but it is not fast enough for the Bush/Cheney Iraq War continues…”

    4. “The Bush/Cheney Iraq War has made our nation…”

  6. Rich Rifkin

    Nothing annoys me more about partisans of whatever party than when they abuse the language for their partisan ends or they just repeat the same catch phrases.

    For example, my skin crawls when I hear Republican partisans refer, ad nauseum, to the “Democrat” Party, when it is the Democratic Party.

    Here, the writer refers repeatedly to the Bush/Cheney over and over and over again. I don’t necessarily disagree with his points. I just think he hurts his arguments with such a partisan writing style:

    1. “This follows the announcement by Bush/Cheney Secretary of Defense Robert Gates…”

    2. “The Bush/Cheney Iraq War is a disaster…”

    3. “… but it is not fast enough for the Bush/Cheney Iraq War continues…”

    4. “The Bush/Cheney Iraq War has made our nation…”

  7. Rich Rifkin

    Nothing annoys me more about partisans of whatever party than when they abuse the language for their partisan ends or they just repeat the same catch phrases.

    For example, my skin crawls when I hear Republican partisans refer, ad nauseum, to the “Democrat” Party, when it is the Democratic Party.

    Here, the writer refers repeatedly to the Bush/Cheney over and over and over again. I don’t necessarily disagree with his points. I just think he hurts his arguments with such a partisan writing style:

    1. “This follows the announcement by Bush/Cheney Secretary of Defense Robert Gates…”

    2. “The Bush/Cheney Iraq War is a disaster…”

    3. “… but it is not fast enough for the Bush/Cheney Iraq War continues…”

    4. “The Bush/Cheney Iraq War has made our nation…”

  8. Rich Rifkin

    Nothing annoys me more about partisans of whatever party than when they abuse the language for their partisan ends or they just repeat the same catch phrases.

    For example, my skin crawls when I hear Republican partisans refer, ad nauseum, to the “Democrat” Party, when it is the Democratic Party.

    Here, the writer refers repeatedly to the Bush/Cheney over and over and over again. I don’t necessarily disagree with his points. I just think he hurts his arguments with such a partisan writing style:

    1. “This follows the announcement by Bush/Cheney Secretary of Defense Robert Gates…”

    2. “The Bush/Cheney Iraq War is a disaster…”

    3. “… but it is not fast enough for the Bush/Cheney Iraq War continues…”

    4. “The Bush/Cheney Iraq War has made our nation…”

  9. Dave Hart

    Well Rich, do you honestly think we’d be in Iraq if it weren’t for the “Bush/Cheney” administration? They are the two top executives of the government. They are the deciders. Well, maybe mostly Cheney, but there sure as hell isn’t anyone else in charge who has the authority to change policy or end the occupation and bring our people home. For criminey sakes, Rich, you can be so dense sometimes. If it hadn’t been raining constantly, I’d say you had too much sun at Picnic Day.

  10. Dave Hart

    Well Rich, do you honestly think we’d be in Iraq if it weren’t for the “Bush/Cheney” administration? They are the two top executives of the government. They are the deciders. Well, maybe mostly Cheney, but there sure as hell isn’t anyone else in charge who has the authority to change policy or end the occupation and bring our people home. For criminey sakes, Rich, you can be so dense sometimes. If it hadn’t been raining constantly, I’d say you had too much sun at Picnic Day.

  11. Dave Hart

    Well Rich, do you honestly think we’d be in Iraq if it weren’t for the “Bush/Cheney” administration? They are the two top executives of the government. They are the deciders. Well, maybe mostly Cheney, but there sure as hell isn’t anyone else in charge who has the authority to change policy or end the occupation and bring our people home. For criminey sakes, Rich, you can be so dense sometimes. If it hadn’t been raining constantly, I’d say you had too much sun at Picnic Day.

  12. Dave Hart

    Well Rich, do you honestly think we’d be in Iraq if it weren’t for the “Bush/Cheney” administration? They are the two top executives of the government. They are the deciders. Well, maybe mostly Cheney, but there sure as hell isn’t anyone else in charge who has the authority to change policy or end the occupation and bring our people home. For criminey sakes, Rich, you can be so dense sometimes. If it hadn’t been raining constantly, I’d say you had too much sun at Picnic Day.

  13. Don Shor

    “Well Rich, do you honestly think we’d be in Iraq if it weren’t for the “Bush/Cheney” administration?”

    How many of the current Democratic party candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, Dave?

  14. Don Shor

    “Well Rich, do you honestly think we’d be in Iraq if it weren’t for the “Bush/Cheney” administration?”

    How many of the current Democratic party candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, Dave?

  15. Don Shor

    “Well Rich, do you honestly think we’d be in Iraq if it weren’t for the “Bush/Cheney” administration?”

    How many of the current Democratic party candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, Dave?

  16. Don Shor

    “Well Rich, do you honestly think we’d be in Iraq if it weren’t for the “Bush/Cheney” administration?”

    How many of the current Democratic party candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, Dave?

  17. bill ritter

    The Iraq war is due to the Bush/Cheney administration’s war policy, misjudgments and its propaganda of lies.

    As we begin the fifth year of war in Iraq, a total calamity of historic proportions by any measure, it is important to hold those responsible for this disaster accountable.

    There is little doubt that had many members of Congress in 2002/2003 and the American people had the information we all now have (about the false & manipulated intelligence, the false predictions, the false threats to our national security, the false claims about WMD, the false claims that Iraq & Saddam Hussein were responsible for 9/11 and in collusion with Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden all promoted by the Bush/Cheney administration) this war would not have been supported as it was at the beginning.

    Due to the flat out lies by the Bush/Cheney administration for which the need to go to war was built upon as well as the absurd prognostications by the Bush/Cheney administration this disastrous war has continued for over four years, longer than our country’s participation in both WWI & WWII.

    We are within weeks of the fourth anniversary of George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, yet the war rages on with no good outcome in sight.

    I believe that nearly every Democrat and many Republicans in Congress (prior to the invasion of Iraq) would not have supported the Bush/Cheney administration’s drumbeat for war had they been told the truth. They were not told the truth and neither were the American people.

    The only people supporting this war now are Bush & Cheney, their administration, their remaining allies in the Congress and their own partisans. Bush & Cheney continue to justify this war and make predictions similar to those they have made for years. Bush/Cheney own this war. Under false pretenses, they created it and continue to promote it.

    So in my opinion, regardless of being a partisan, as our country begins the 5th year of the war, calling this war the “Bush/Cheney Iraq War” is an accurate, fair assessment and a correct naming of it for what this colossal blunder has become.

    Bill Ritter

  18. bill ritter

    The Iraq war is due to the Bush/Cheney administration’s war policy, misjudgments and its propaganda of lies.

    As we begin the fifth year of war in Iraq, a total calamity of historic proportions by any measure, it is important to hold those responsible for this disaster accountable.

    There is little doubt that had many members of Congress in 2002/2003 and the American people had the information we all now have (about the false & manipulated intelligence, the false predictions, the false threats to our national security, the false claims about WMD, the false claims that Iraq & Saddam Hussein were responsible for 9/11 and in collusion with Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden all promoted by the Bush/Cheney administration) this war would not have been supported as it was at the beginning.

    Due to the flat out lies by the Bush/Cheney administration for which the need to go to war was built upon as well as the absurd prognostications by the Bush/Cheney administration this disastrous war has continued for over four years, longer than our country’s participation in both WWI & WWII.

    We are within weeks of the fourth anniversary of George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, yet the war rages on with no good outcome in sight.

    I believe that nearly every Democrat and many Republicans in Congress (prior to the invasion of Iraq) would not have supported the Bush/Cheney administration’s drumbeat for war had they been told the truth. They were not told the truth and neither were the American people.

    The only people supporting this war now are Bush & Cheney, their administration, their remaining allies in the Congress and their own partisans. Bush & Cheney continue to justify this war and make predictions similar to those they have made for years. Bush/Cheney own this war. Under false pretenses, they created it and continue to promote it.

    So in my opinion, regardless of being a partisan, as our country begins the 5th year of the war, calling this war the “Bush/Cheney Iraq War” is an accurate, fair assessment and a correct naming of it for what this colossal blunder has become.

    Bill Ritter

  19. bill ritter

    The Iraq war is due to the Bush/Cheney administration’s war policy, misjudgments and its propaganda of lies.

    As we begin the fifth year of war in Iraq, a total calamity of historic proportions by any measure, it is important to hold those responsible for this disaster accountable.

    There is little doubt that had many members of Congress in 2002/2003 and the American people had the information we all now have (about the false & manipulated intelligence, the false predictions, the false threats to our national security, the false claims about WMD, the false claims that Iraq & Saddam Hussein were responsible for 9/11 and in collusion with Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden all promoted by the Bush/Cheney administration) this war would not have been supported as it was at the beginning.

    Due to the flat out lies by the Bush/Cheney administration for which the need to go to war was built upon as well as the absurd prognostications by the Bush/Cheney administration this disastrous war has continued for over four years, longer than our country’s participation in both WWI & WWII.

    We are within weeks of the fourth anniversary of George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, yet the war rages on with no good outcome in sight.

    I believe that nearly every Democrat and many Republicans in Congress (prior to the invasion of Iraq) would not have supported the Bush/Cheney administration’s drumbeat for war had they been told the truth. They were not told the truth and neither were the American people.

    The only people supporting this war now are Bush & Cheney, their administration, their remaining allies in the Congress and their own partisans. Bush & Cheney continue to justify this war and make predictions similar to those they have made for years. Bush/Cheney own this war. Under false pretenses, they created it and continue to promote it.

    So in my opinion, regardless of being a partisan, as our country begins the 5th year of the war, calling this war the “Bush/Cheney Iraq War” is an accurate, fair assessment and a correct naming of it for what this colossal blunder has become.

    Bill Ritter

  20. bill ritter

    The Iraq war is due to the Bush/Cheney administration’s war policy, misjudgments and its propaganda of lies.

    As we begin the fifth year of war in Iraq, a total calamity of historic proportions by any measure, it is important to hold those responsible for this disaster accountable.

    There is little doubt that had many members of Congress in 2002/2003 and the American people had the information we all now have (about the false & manipulated intelligence, the false predictions, the false threats to our national security, the false claims about WMD, the false claims that Iraq & Saddam Hussein were responsible for 9/11 and in collusion with Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden all promoted by the Bush/Cheney administration) this war would not have been supported as it was at the beginning.

    Due to the flat out lies by the Bush/Cheney administration for which the need to go to war was built upon as well as the absurd prognostications by the Bush/Cheney administration this disastrous war has continued for over four years, longer than our country’s participation in both WWI & WWII.

    We are within weeks of the fourth anniversary of George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, yet the war rages on with no good outcome in sight.

    I believe that nearly every Democrat and many Republicans in Congress (prior to the invasion of Iraq) would not have supported the Bush/Cheney administration’s drumbeat for war had they been told the truth. They were not told the truth and neither were the American people.

    The only people supporting this war now are Bush & Cheney, their administration, their remaining allies in the Congress and their own partisans. Bush & Cheney continue to justify this war and make predictions similar to those they have made for years. Bush/Cheney own this war. Under false pretenses, they created it and continue to promote it.

    So in my opinion, regardless of being a partisan, as our country begins the 5th year of the war, calling this war the “Bush/Cheney Iraq War” is an accurate, fair assessment and a correct naming of it for what this colossal blunder has become.

    Bill Ritter

  21. Don Shor

    The most important vote a senator ever makes has to do with allowing the President to take us to war. 77 senators did so.
    The list includes Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Kerry.
    I oppose the current strategy, and believe the Bush administration has been incompetent at almost every level in waging this war. But IMO it trivializes the debate to try to frame it in an entirely partisan manner by attaching “Bush-Cheney” to it.
    There is plenty of blame to go around for how we got there, the lack of oversight, and how it has been managed. But bear in mind that this war enjoyed public support for at least two years, and had congressional support at the outset.
    We went into this very carelessly. We should exit very carefully.

  22. Don Shor

    The most important vote a senator ever makes has to do with allowing the President to take us to war. 77 senators did so.
    The list includes Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Kerry.
    I oppose the current strategy, and believe the Bush administration has been incompetent at almost every level in waging this war. But IMO it trivializes the debate to try to frame it in an entirely partisan manner by attaching “Bush-Cheney” to it.
    There is plenty of blame to go around for how we got there, the lack of oversight, and how it has been managed. But bear in mind that this war enjoyed public support for at least two years, and had congressional support at the outset.
    We went into this very carelessly. We should exit very carefully.

  23. Don Shor

    The most important vote a senator ever makes has to do with allowing the President to take us to war. 77 senators did so.
    The list includes Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Kerry.
    I oppose the current strategy, and believe the Bush administration has been incompetent at almost every level in waging this war. But IMO it trivializes the debate to try to frame it in an entirely partisan manner by attaching “Bush-Cheney” to it.
    There is plenty of blame to go around for how we got there, the lack of oversight, and how it has been managed. But bear in mind that this war enjoyed public support for at least two years, and had congressional support at the outset.
    We went into this very carelessly. We should exit very carefully.

  24. Don Shor

    The most important vote a senator ever makes has to do with allowing the President to take us to war. 77 senators did so.
    The list includes Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, and Kerry.
    I oppose the current strategy, and believe the Bush administration has been incompetent at almost every level in waging this war. But IMO it trivializes the debate to try to frame it in an entirely partisan manner by attaching “Bush-Cheney” to it.
    There is plenty of blame to go around for how we got there, the lack of oversight, and how it has been managed. But bear in mind that this war enjoyed public support for at least two years, and had congressional support at the outset.
    We went into this very carelessly. We should exit very carefully.

  25. Dave Hart

    Don Shor asked: “How many of the current Democratic party candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, Dave?”

    Without getting into the deception by the “Bush/Cheney” administration to invade or the unanimous Repub support and nearly unanimous Repub support even now when it is as clear as the nose on yer face that the whole thing is an unmitigated disaster, the only point worth making is that the ONLY people who can order it to stop is “Bush/Cheney”. Yes, the Congress can cut off funding, but the “Bush/Cheney” administration alone has the AUTHORITY to end it.

    The invasion and occupation is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party who fear-mongered anyone who had reservations. The Dems have no backbone, the Repubs have no heart.

  26. Dave Hart

    Don Shor asked: “How many of the current Democratic party candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, Dave?”

    Without getting into the deception by the “Bush/Cheney” administration to invade or the unanimous Repub support and nearly unanimous Repub support even now when it is as clear as the nose on yer face that the whole thing is an unmitigated disaster, the only point worth making is that the ONLY people who can order it to stop is “Bush/Cheney”. Yes, the Congress can cut off funding, but the “Bush/Cheney” administration alone has the AUTHORITY to end it.

    The invasion and occupation is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party who fear-mongered anyone who had reservations. The Dems have no backbone, the Repubs have no heart.

  27. Dave Hart

    Don Shor asked: “How many of the current Democratic party candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, Dave?”

    Without getting into the deception by the “Bush/Cheney” administration to invade or the unanimous Repub support and nearly unanimous Repub support even now when it is as clear as the nose on yer face that the whole thing is an unmitigated disaster, the only point worth making is that the ONLY people who can order it to stop is “Bush/Cheney”. Yes, the Congress can cut off funding, but the “Bush/Cheney” administration alone has the AUTHORITY to end it.

    The invasion and occupation is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party who fear-mongered anyone who had reservations. The Dems have no backbone, the Repubs have no heart.

  28. Dave Hart

    Don Shor asked: “How many of the current Democratic party candidates for president voted for the Iraq war, Dave?”

    Without getting into the deception by the “Bush/Cheney” administration to invade or the unanimous Repub support and nearly unanimous Repub support even now when it is as clear as the nose on yer face that the whole thing is an unmitigated disaster, the only point worth making is that the ONLY people who can order it to stop is “Bush/Cheney”. Yes, the Congress can cut off funding, but the “Bush/Cheney” administration alone has the AUTHORITY to end it.

    The invasion and occupation is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party who fear-mongered anyone who had reservations. The Dems have no backbone, the Repubs have no heart.

  29. Don Shor

    So do I understand you to be advocating immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, regardless of the consequences?

    BTW, I don’t think the soldiers there think they are fighting for the Republican Party, or for “Bush/Cheney”.

  30. Don Shor

    So do I understand you to be advocating immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, regardless of the consequences?

    BTW, I don’t think the soldiers there think they are fighting for the Republican Party, or for “Bush/Cheney”.

  31. Don Shor

    So do I understand you to be advocating immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, regardless of the consequences?

    BTW, I don’t think the soldiers there think they are fighting for the Republican Party, or for “Bush/Cheney”.

  32. Don Shor

    So do I understand you to be advocating immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, regardless of the consequences?

    BTW, I don’t think the soldiers there think they are fighting for the Republican Party, or for “Bush/Cheney”.

  33. Dave Hart

    Don, I certainly think a blank check with no end in sight is unacceptable. I don’t claim to be a military expert, but many who are (recently retired Admirals, Generals, etc., who could not talk openly while serving) say that an orderly exit could be accomplished in three to six months.

    I also know enough about individual and group psychology to know that it is complicated and impossible to say the troops in Iraq have a common understanding of what they are doing there and its relative worth. Their opinions are as varied as the U.S. population’s. They are certainly propagandized as part of their training to believe they are doing something necessary, noble, patriotic, etc. I wouldn’t expect the military trainers to inform them they are cheap mercenaries for corporate oil.

    I also know that individual and group psychology is such that individual members of a group tend to support the actions of the group regardless of their own beliefs and moral convictions. That is why you will never hear me criticize individual soldiers’ actions. They bond under dire circumstances and will do things good and bad that they would not ordinarily do. That is why many of our soldiers coming back are damaged emotionally and psychologically in ways that are not easy to understand unless you’ve been in the situation or have studied it clinically. I hope you understand that I wish every one of our service personnel in Iraq were serving in some capacity that keeps them from being put in the position of being psychologically or emotionally maimed like those who have been tried and found guilty of crimes in Iraq. I feel every bit as sorry for them as I do for our physically wounded and the countless Iraqi civilians that continue to pay for this prolonged occupation.

    All the more reason that what the “Bush/Cheney” crowd has done is a crime and an impeachable offense. I believe they have done this recklessly and with no care about the effects on the troops, their statements to the contrary which I take to be cynical lies. They, in fact, care nothing about our soldiers, Iraqi civilians or anyone else not part of their circle. They are actually not human, though they walk upright speaking English.

    The continued occupation is about strategic control of oil, not so much as a source of oil for the U.S., but as a way of denying it to emerging competitors like China. Our soldiers might be less confused if Bush would simply tell the truth and say this is about throttling back the economic growth potential of countries like China and making the world safe for mega-corporation control and profits.

  34. Dave Hart

    Don, I certainly think a blank check with no end in sight is unacceptable. I don’t claim to be a military expert, but many who are (recently retired Admirals, Generals, etc., who could not talk openly while serving) say that an orderly exit could be accomplished in three to six months.

    I also know enough about individual and group psychology to know that it is complicated and impossible to say the troops in Iraq have a common understanding of what they are doing there and its relative worth. Their opinions are as varied as the U.S. population’s. They are certainly propagandized as part of their training to believe they are doing something necessary, noble, patriotic, etc. I wouldn’t expect the military trainers to inform them they are cheap mercenaries for corporate oil.

    I also know that individual and group psychology is such that individual members of a group tend to support the actions of the group regardless of their own beliefs and moral convictions. That is why you will never hear me criticize individual soldiers’ actions. They bond under dire circumstances and will do things good and bad that they would not ordinarily do. That is why many of our soldiers coming back are damaged emotionally and psychologically in ways that are not easy to understand unless you’ve been in the situation or have studied it clinically. I hope you understand that I wish every one of our service personnel in Iraq were serving in some capacity that keeps them from being put in the position of being psychologically or emotionally maimed like those who have been tried and found guilty of crimes in Iraq. I feel every bit as sorry for them as I do for our physically wounded and the countless Iraqi civilians that continue to pay for this prolonged occupation.

    All the more reason that what the “Bush/Cheney” crowd has done is a crime and an impeachable offense. I believe they have done this recklessly and with no care about the effects on the troops, their statements to the contrary which I take to be cynical lies. They, in fact, care nothing about our soldiers, Iraqi civilians or anyone else not part of their circle. They are actually not human, though they walk upright speaking English.

    The continued occupation is about strategic control of oil, not so much as a source of oil for the U.S., but as a way of denying it to emerging competitors like China. Our soldiers might be less confused if Bush would simply tell the truth and say this is about throttling back the economic growth potential of countries like China and making the world safe for mega-corporation control and profits.

  35. Dave Hart

    Don, I certainly think a blank check with no end in sight is unacceptable. I don’t claim to be a military expert, but many who are (recently retired Admirals, Generals, etc., who could not talk openly while serving) say that an orderly exit could be accomplished in three to six months.

    I also know enough about individual and group psychology to know that it is complicated and impossible to say the troops in Iraq have a common understanding of what they are doing there and its relative worth. Their opinions are as varied as the U.S. population’s. They are certainly propagandized as part of their training to believe they are doing something necessary, noble, patriotic, etc. I wouldn’t expect the military trainers to inform them they are cheap mercenaries for corporate oil.

    I also know that individual and group psychology is such that individual members of a group tend to support the actions of the group regardless of their own beliefs and moral convictions. That is why you will never hear me criticize individual soldiers’ actions. They bond under dire circumstances and will do things good and bad that they would not ordinarily do. That is why many of our soldiers coming back are damaged emotionally and psychologically in ways that are not easy to understand unless you’ve been in the situation or have studied it clinically. I hope you understand that I wish every one of our service personnel in Iraq were serving in some capacity that keeps them from being put in the position of being psychologically or emotionally maimed like those who have been tried and found guilty of crimes in Iraq. I feel every bit as sorry for them as I do for our physically wounded and the countless Iraqi civilians that continue to pay for this prolonged occupation.

    All the more reason that what the “Bush/Cheney” crowd has done is a crime and an impeachable offense. I believe they have done this recklessly and with no care about the effects on the troops, their statements to the contrary which I take to be cynical lies. They, in fact, care nothing about our soldiers, Iraqi civilians or anyone else not part of their circle. They are actually not human, though they walk upright speaking English.

    The continued occupation is about strategic control of oil, not so much as a source of oil for the U.S., but as a way of denying it to emerging competitors like China. Our soldiers might be less confused if Bush would simply tell the truth and say this is about throttling back the economic growth potential of countries like China and making the world safe for mega-corporation control and profits.

  36. Dave Hart

    Don, I certainly think a blank check with no end in sight is unacceptable. I don’t claim to be a military expert, but many who are (recently retired Admirals, Generals, etc., who could not talk openly while serving) say that an orderly exit could be accomplished in three to six months.

    I also know enough about individual and group psychology to know that it is complicated and impossible to say the troops in Iraq have a common understanding of what they are doing there and its relative worth. Their opinions are as varied as the U.S. population’s. They are certainly propagandized as part of their training to believe they are doing something necessary, noble, patriotic, etc. I wouldn’t expect the military trainers to inform them they are cheap mercenaries for corporate oil.

    I also know that individual and group psychology is such that individual members of a group tend to support the actions of the group regardless of their own beliefs and moral convictions. That is why you will never hear me criticize individual soldiers’ actions. They bond under dire circumstances and will do things good and bad that they would not ordinarily do. That is why many of our soldiers coming back are damaged emotionally and psychologically in ways that are not easy to understand unless you’ve been in the situation or have studied it clinically. I hope you understand that I wish every one of our service personnel in Iraq were serving in some capacity that keeps them from being put in the position of being psychologically or emotionally maimed like those who have been tried and found guilty of crimes in Iraq. I feel every bit as sorry for them as I do for our physically wounded and the countless Iraqi civilians that continue to pay for this prolonged occupation.

    All the more reason that what the “Bush/Cheney” crowd has done is a crime and an impeachable offense. I believe they have done this recklessly and with no care about the effects on the troops, their statements to the contrary which I take to be cynical lies. They, in fact, care nothing about our soldiers, Iraqi civilians or anyone else not part of their circle. They are actually not human, though they walk upright speaking English.

    The continued occupation is about strategic control of oil, not so much as a source of oil for the U.S., but as a way of denying it to emerging competitors like China. Our soldiers might be less confused if Bush would simply tell the truth and say this is about throttling back the economic growth potential of countries like China and making the world safe for mega-corporation control and profits.

  37. Don Shor

    “I wouldn’t expect the military trainers to inform them they are cheap mercenaries for corporate oil.”
    Our soldiers are not mercenaries. You underestimate their motives and intelligence.
    I don’t think the soldiers are confused. I just think their mission has changed more than once since 2002, and the implementation has been a disaster.

    The fact is our military is doing several different things in Iraq (which is part of the problem). They are fighting terrorists, they are trying to secure Baghdad, they are protecting the weak Shi’ite government.

    If we left in 3 – 6 months, some of the consequences would be easily predictable. The current government would almost certainly fall, and would probably be replaced by a more anti-western one with even closer ties to Iran. The Turks would invade the Kurdish north.

    Al Qaeda would continue to operate in Anbar province and other areas, would continue their brutal attacks on the populations of the cities around Baghdad. The borders with Syria and Iran would become even less secure than they are now. There would be more ethnic cleansing, the de facto partition of Iraq that is already occurring would hasten, and there would be a refugee crisis probably doubling the existing 2 million already trying to live elsewhere.

    That is why even the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination have been very careful NOT to call for rapid withdrawal of our forces, but instead for redeployment. We will almost certainly have bases in Iraq for 5 – 10 years. We have good reasons to continue the counter-terrorism in Anbar province. Retaining troops and redeploying some north to the Kurdish area would provide stability in one of the more successful areas of Iraq.

    Impeachment is not going to happen. Bush will veto anything like a funds-for-withdrawal bill. So the most practical answer for Democrats is to vote for short-term funding, forcing continued votes every 3 months or so while they try to peel away Republican votes.

    Thanks for the link.

  38. Don Shor

    “I wouldn’t expect the military trainers to inform them they are cheap mercenaries for corporate oil.”
    Our soldiers are not mercenaries. You underestimate their motives and intelligence.
    I don’t think the soldiers are confused. I just think their mission has changed more than once since 2002, and the implementation has been a disaster.

    The fact is our military is doing several different things in Iraq (which is part of the problem). They are fighting terrorists, they are trying to secure Baghdad, they are protecting the weak Shi’ite government.

    If we left in 3 – 6 months, some of the consequences would be easily predictable. The current government would almost certainly fall, and would probably be replaced by a more anti-western one with even closer ties to Iran. The Turks would invade the Kurdish north.

    Al Qaeda would continue to operate in Anbar province and other areas, would continue their brutal attacks on the populations of the cities around Baghdad. The borders with Syria and Iran would become even less secure than they are now. There would be more ethnic cleansing, the de facto partition of Iraq that is already occurring would hasten, and there would be a refugee crisis probably doubling the existing 2 million already trying to live elsewhere.

    That is why even the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination have been very careful NOT to call for rapid withdrawal of our forces, but instead for redeployment. We will almost certainly have bases in Iraq for 5 – 10 years. We have good reasons to continue the counter-terrorism in Anbar province. Retaining troops and redeploying some north to the Kurdish area would provide stability in one of the more successful areas of Iraq.

    Impeachment is not going to happen. Bush will veto anything like a funds-for-withdrawal bill. So the most practical answer for Democrats is to vote for short-term funding, forcing continued votes every 3 months or so while they try to peel away Republican votes.

    Thanks for the link.

  39. Don Shor

    “I wouldn’t expect the military trainers to inform them they are cheap mercenaries for corporate oil.”
    Our soldiers are not mercenaries. You underestimate their motives and intelligence.
    I don’t think the soldiers are confused. I just think their mission has changed more than once since 2002, and the implementation has been a disaster.

    The fact is our military is doing several different things in Iraq (which is part of the problem). They are fighting terrorists, they are trying to secure Baghdad, they are protecting the weak Shi’ite government.

    If we left in 3 – 6 months, some of the consequences would be easily predictable. The current government would almost certainly fall, and would probably be replaced by a more anti-western one with even closer ties to Iran. The Turks would invade the Kurdish north.

    Al Qaeda would continue to operate in Anbar province and other areas, would continue their brutal attacks on the populations of the cities around Baghdad. The borders with Syria and Iran would become even less secure than they are now. There would be more ethnic cleansing, the de facto partition of Iraq that is already occurring would hasten, and there would be a refugee crisis probably doubling the existing 2 million already trying to live elsewhere.

    That is why even the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination have been very careful NOT to call for rapid withdrawal of our forces, but instead for redeployment. We will almost certainly have bases in Iraq for 5 – 10 years. We have good reasons to continue the counter-terrorism in Anbar province. Retaining troops and redeploying some north to the Kurdish area would provide stability in one of the more successful areas of Iraq.

    Impeachment is not going to happen. Bush will veto anything like a funds-for-withdrawal bill. So the most practical answer for Democrats is to vote for short-term funding, forcing continued votes every 3 months or so while they try to peel away Republican votes.

    Thanks for the link.

  40. Don Shor

    “I wouldn’t expect the military trainers to inform them they are cheap mercenaries for corporate oil.”
    Our soldiers are not mercenaries. You underestimate their motives and intelligence.
    I don’t think the soldiers are confused. I just think their mission has changed more than once since 2002, and the implementation has been a disaster.

    The fact is our military is doing several different things in Iraq (which is part of the problem). They are fighting terrorists, they are trying to secure Baghdad, they are protecting the weak Shi’ite government.

    If we left in 3 – 6 months, some of the consequences would be easily predictable. The current government would almost certainly fall, and would probably be replaced by a more anti-western one with even closer ties to Iran. The Turks would invade the Kurdish north.

    Al Qaeda would continue to operate in Anbar province and other areas, would continue their brutal attacks on the populations of the cities around Baghdad. The borders with Syria and Iran would become even less secure than they are now. There would be more ethnic cleansing, the de facto partition of Iraq that is already occurring would hasten, and there would be a refugee crisis probably doubling the existing 2 million already trying to live elsewhere.

    That is why even the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination have been very careful NOT to call for rapid withdrawal of our forces, but instead for redeployment. We will almost certainly have bases in Iraq for 5 – 10 years. We have good reasons to continue the counter-terrorism in Anbar province. Retaining troops and redeploying some north to the Kurdish area would provide stability in one of the more successful areas of Iraq.

    Impeachment is not going to happen. Bush will veto anything like a funds-for-withdrawal bill. So the most practical answer for Democrats is to vote for short-term funding, forcing continued votes every 3 months or so while they try to peel away Republican votes.

    Thanks for the link.

  41. Don Shor

    I think the troop levels in Iraq should be reduced gradually in order to avoid a bloodbath. I don’t believe the surge will work in Baghdad. The military is not designed to police urban areas, and there is no precedent for the ‘partnering’ that Bush proposes we do with the Iraqis. The administration opposes benchmarks for a reason: the Iraqi government is very unlikely to meet any realistic benchmarks. Early on, at least, the troops they were sending to ‘partner’ with ours in Baghdad were at about 50 – 60% strength. They missed what would have been the first benchmark.

    I do believe increased troops in Anbar Province could be useful and could have been justified by the administration. In fact, Bush could have proposed a troop increase there within the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Those troops are doing counter-terrorism work, and have been reasonably effective at it. The local sheiks are beginning to support the nascent police organizations, even sending their sons to join. Extra troops could help. But most of the extra troops are going to Baghdad, with only a few thousand deployed in Anbar.

    The troops in Baghdad have absolutely nothing to do with counter-terrorism. They are trying to restore civil order in a city of 8 million, getting in the middle of sectarian conflict that was unleashed when we removed the dictator. We have limited options there, none of which are going to have great outcomes. Nobody wants this to end badly. Unfortunately, nothing we are doing seems likely to prevent it from ending badly. The only question now seems to be how badly, and who will get caught in the crossfire.

    The reason the congress should continue to try to put timetables is because the Bush administration has not provided a clear rationale for the current strategy, has refused to set any kind of benchmarks by which to assess it, and has not stated clearly what our objective is. It is a continuation of an open-ended, vaguely defined policy that appears to be primarily reactive.

    This isn’t the “ideological battle of our generation,” as Bush likes to say. And massive military force has always been proven ineffective for fighting terrorists, especially those in cells working from a decentralized command structure. There are Al Qaeda operating in dozens of countries–Sudan, Indonesia, Philippines, Somalia, and more. We can’t and shouldn’t invade those countries. Fighting small cells of terrorists is best done by counter-terrorist special-ops, of which we have plenty, and by strengthening the security forces of the existing government.

    We have reasons for keeping troops in Iraq for a while, but we have no basis for the current troop numbers. They only exist to support a failed military strategy which has been criticized by knowledgeable military analysts from inside and outside the current administration. It is hard at this point to tell just who George W. Bush is listening to, because his own military, most strategists, and many members of his own party, all agree the current strategy is ineffective.

    While it is useful to know that we were misled about the reasons for going in, and it is appropriate to investigate and try to make sure that doesn’t occur again, that problem doesn’t inform us about what to do now. We are there, so now we have a central policy concern: what do we do now that we have removed the civil and military government of Iraq, and are occupying the country?

    The infrastructure is in shambles, and billions of dollars are being wasted and stolen in the process of trying to rebuild it.
    The troop levels that would be required to bring order to Baghdad are many tens of thousands more than Bush has sent, and would probably have to be there for several years. The original surge proposal by Frederick Kagan called for 50,000 troops or more. Bush scaled it back (as usual) by more than half.

    So it is a quandary. We can do things in the other parts of Iraq that will help get their oil revenues flowing (very important to rebuilding the country). We can continue to wipe out terrorist cells in other areas of the country.

    We probably need to redeploy out of Baghdad, except to provide limited security for the government, so we don’t continue to be a target for insurgents. We can step in to prevent slaughter at times, but our military is a very blunt weapon (Fallujah is an example).
    We actually could be working with Iran and Syria to stop inciting Shiite actions against Sunnis. But that would require intense diplomacy, which Bush seems to be averse to.

    I don’t know of any serious candidate for president who presently believes that we should simply withdraw and leave the Iraqis to the kind of violence that would ensue. Sen. Biden has probably the most realistic proposal; his partition proposal reflects what is already happening on the ground. Hilary Clinton’s ‘cap’ doesn’t make much sense, seems mostly a symbolic gesture. Edwards would draw the troops down faster, but if you read his web site you find careful wording about continuing to fight terrorists and about regional security. The Republicans are giving the current policy lip service, but realize it could be political suicide. With critics like Chuck Hagel from within the party, we may have the beginnings of a bipartisan consensus developing: redeploy, draw down the troops gradually, hand off to the Iraqis (whether they are ready for it or not), and stand by to deal with humanitarian issues.

    We already have over 2 million Iraqis displaced by this war, so NGO’s are going to have to step in at some point to help them with housing. Mostly they are being displaced along sectarian lines, so we may simply have to accept that what Biden is proposing is de facto policy. Although it was against our stated policy, we accepted that in Bosnia and finally just decided that preventing slaughter (ethnic cleansing) was more important than retaining the existing ethnic configurations. A federation of autonomous regions seems to be in the cards. But if we leave too quickly, an anti-western theocracy open to terrorist networks is a real possibility.

    An accomplished diplomat who has the confidence of the administration and the regional governments could attempt to make headway by shuttling between the region’s powers and Iraq’s neighbors. Richard Holbrooke is an example of someone with credibility in the region, although he may be perceived as too much of a friend of Israel by some of the Arab states.

    There is never a guarantee of success with diplomacy. The upcoming regional conference might simply break down into a bunch of grandstanding and squabbling. But it is worth a try, was recommend by the Iraq Study Group, and might yield results.
    There are incentives that could be put before Syria. The hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled Iraq (most of the middle class has left Baghdad) have mostly settled in Syria and Jordan. Neither is a wealthy country; neither has significant oil revenue. Simply dealing with that developing crisis, probably through the UN and/or the Arab League, could bring Syria on board. What can Syria help with? Their borders are porous, and we could use some help keeping terrorist groups from continuing to infiltrate there. We have leverage with Syria if we choose to use it.

    Iran is a tougher case, because we have the whole nuclear program already under discussion. Sanctions applied against Iran over that could really damage their economy, which is actually pretty fragile. So they would be likely to try to tie those issues together as we press them to stop supplying insurgents in Iraq (and Lebanon; they provided most of the missiles Hezbollah was firing at Israel). We have less leverage with Iran. But what we’re doing right now is worse than nothing: Bush and the Iranian government have gotten into verbal sparring matches about who will attack whom and for what. We do not wish to draw Iran further into the war, and history shows that when you issue threats they tend to backfire.

    I have strong personal reasons for wanting to see our troops brought home as soon as possible. But I believe we have ethical and strategic reasons for acting more carefully.

  42. Don Shor

    I think the troop levels in Iraq should be reduced gradually in order to avoid a bloodbath. I don’t believe the surge will work in Baghdad. The military is not designed to police urban areas, and there is no precedent for the ‘partnering’ that Bush proposes we do with the Iraqis. The administration opposes benchmarks for a reason: the Iraqi government is very unlikely to meet any realistic benchmarks. Early on, at least, the troops they were sending to ‘partner’ with ours in Baghdad were at about 50 – 60% strength. They missed what would have been the first benchmark.

    I do believe increased troops in Anbar Province could be useful and could have been justified by the administration. In fact, Bush could have proposed a troop increase there within the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Those troops are doing counter-terrorism work, and have been reasonably effective at it. The local sheiks are beginning to support the nascent police organizations, even sending their sons to join. Extra troops could help. But most of the extra troops are going to Baghdad, with only a few thousand deployed in Anbar.

    The troops in Baghdad have absolutely nothing to do with counter-terrorism. They are trying to restore civil order in a city of 8 million, getting in the middle of sectarian conflict that was unleashed when we removed the dictator. We have limited options there, none of which are going to have great outcomes. Nobody wants this to end badly. Unfortunately, nothing we are doing seems likely to prevent it from ending badly. The only question now seems to be how badly, and who will get caught in the crossfire.

    The reason the congress should continue to try to put timetables is because the Bush administration has not provided a clear rationale for the current strategy, has refused to set any kind of benchmarks by which to assess it, and has not stated clearly what our objective is. It is a continuation of an open-ended, vaguely defined policy that appears to be primarily reactive.

    This isn’t the “ideological battle of our generation,” as Bush likes to say. And massive military force has always been proven ineffective for fighting terrorists, especially those in cells working from a decentralized command structure. There are Al Qaeda operating in dozens of countries–Sudan, Indonesia, Philippines, Somalia, and more. We can’t and shouldn’t invade those countries. Fighting small cells of terrorists is best done by counter-terrorist special-ops, of which we have plenty, and by strengthening the security forces of the existing government.

    We have reasons for keeping troops in Iraq for a while, but we have no basis for the current troop numbers. They only exist to support a failed military strategy which has been criticized by knowledgeable military analysts from inside and outside the current administration. It is hard at this point to tell just who George W. Bush is listening to, because his own military, most strategists, and many members of his own party, all agree the current strategy is ineffective.

    While it is useful to know that we were misled about the reasons for going in, and it is appropriate to investigate and try to make sure that doesn’t occur again, that problem doesn’t inform us about what to do now. We are there, so now we have a central policy concern: what do we do now that we have removed the civil and military government of Iraq, and are occupying the country?

    The infrastructure is in shambles, and billions of dollars are being wasted and stolen in the process of trying to rebuild it.
    The troop levels that would be required to bring order to Baghdad are many tens of thousands more than Bush has sent, and would probably have to be there for several years. The original surge proposal by Frederick Kagan called for 50,000 troops or more. Bush scaled it back (as usual) by more than half.

    So it is a quandary. We can do things in the other parts of Iraq that will help get their oil revenues flowing (very important to rebuilding the country). We can continue to wipe out terrorist cells in other areas of the country.

    We probably need to redeploy out of Baghdad, except to provide limited security for the government, so we don’t continue to be a target for insurgents. We can step in to prevent slaughter at times, but our military is a very blunt weapon (Fallujah is an example).
    We actually could be working with Iran and Syria to stop inciting Shiite actions against Sunnis. But that would require intense diplomacy, which Bush seems to be averse to.

    I don’t know of any serious candidate for president who presently believes that we should simply withdraw and leave the Iraqis to the kind of violence that would ensue. Sen. Biden has probably the most realistic proposal; his partition proposal reflects what is already happening on the ground. Hilary Clinton’s ‘cap’ doesn’t make much sense, seems mostly a symbolic gesture. Edwards would draw the troops down faster, but if you read his web site you find careful wording about continuing to fight terrorists and about regional security. The Republicans are giving the current policy lip service, but realize it could be political suicide. With critics like Chuck Hagel from within the party, we may have the beginnings of a bipartisan consensus developing: redeploy, draw down the troops gradually, hand off to the Iraqis (whether they are ready for it or not), and stand by to deal with humanitarian issues.

    We already have over 2 million Iraqis displaced by this war, so NGO’s are going to have to step in at some point to help them with housing. Mostly they are being displaced along sectarian lines, so we may simply have to accept that what Biden is proposing is de facto policy. Although it was against our stated policy, we accepted that in Bosnia and finally just decided that preventing slaughter (ethnic cleansing) was more important than retaining the existing ethnic configurations. A federation of autonomous regions seems to be in the cards. But if we leave too quickly, an anti-western theocracy open to terrorist networks is a real possibility.

    An accomplished diplomat who has the confidence of the administration and the regional governments could attempt to make headway by shuttling between the region’s powers and Iraq’s neighbors. Richard Holbrooke is an example of someone with credibility in the region, although he may be perceived as too much of a friend of Israel by some of the Arab states.

    There is never a guarantee of success with diplomacy. The upcoming regional conference might simply break down into a bunch of grandstanding and squabbling. But it is worth a try, was recommend by the Iraq Study Group, and might yield results.
    There are incentives that could be put before Syria. The hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled Iraq (most of the middle class has left Baghdad) have mostly settled in Syria and Jordan. Neither is a wealthy country; neither has significant oil revenue. Simply dealing with that developing crisis, probably through the UN and/or the Arab League, could bring Syria on board. What can Syria help with? Their borders are porous, and we could use some help keeping terrorist groups from continuing to infiltrate there. We have leverage with Syria if we choose to use it.

    Iran is a tougher case, because we have the whole nuclear program already under discussion. Sanctions applied against Iran over that could really damage their economy, which is actually pretty fragile. So they would be likely to try to tie those issues together as we press them to stop supplying insurgents in Iraq (and Lebanon; they provided most of the missiles Hezbollah was firing at Israel). We have less leverage with Iran. But what we’re doing right now is worse than nothing: Bush and the Iranian government have gotten into verbal sparring matches about who will attack whom and for what. We do not wish to draw Iran further into the war, and history shows that when you issue threats they tend to backfire.

    I have strong personal reasons for wanting to see our troops brought home as soon as possible. But I believe we have ethical and strategic reasons for acting more carefully.

  43. Don Shor

    I think the troop levels in Iraq should be reduced gradually in order to avoid a bloodbath. I don’t believe the surge will work in Baghdad. The military is not designed to police urban areas, and there is no precedent for the ‘partnering’ that Bush proposes we do with the Iraqis. The administration opposes benchmarks for a reason: the Iraqi government is very unlikely to meet any realistic benchmarks. Early on, at least, the troops they were sending to ‘partner’ with ours in Baghdad were at about 50 – 60% strength. They missed what would have been the first benchmark.

    I do believe increased troops in Anbar Province could be useful and could have been justified by the administration. In fact, Bush could have proposed a troop increase there within the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Those troops are doing counter-terrorism work, and have been reasonably effective at it. The local sheiks are beginning to support the nascent police organizations, even sending their sons to join. Extra troops could help. But most of the extra troops are going to Baghdad, with only a few thousand deployed in Anbar.

    The troops in Baghdad have absolutely nothing to do with counter-terrorism. They are trying to restore civil order in a city of 8 million, getting in the middle of sectarian conflict that was unleashed when we removed the dictator. We have limited options there, none of which are going to have great outcomes. Nobody wants this to end badly. Unfortunately, nothing we are doing seems likely to prevent it from ending badly. The only question now seems to be how badly, and who will get caught in the crossfire.

    The reason the congress should continue to try to put timetables is because the Bush administration has not provided a clear rationale for the current strategy, has refused to set any kind of benchmarks by which to assess it, and has not stated clearly what our objective is. It is a continuation of an open-ended, vaguely defined policy that appears to be primarily reactive.

    This isn’t the “ideological battle of our generation,” as Bush likes to say. And massive military force has always been proven ineffective for fighting terrorists, especially those in cells working from a decentralized command structure. There are Al Qaeda operating in dozens of countries–Sudan, Indonesia, Philippines, Somalia, and more. We can’t and shouldn’t invade those countries. Fighting small cells of terrorists is best done by counter-terrorist special-ops, of which we have plenty, and by strengthening the security forces of the existing government.

    We have reasons for keeping troops in Iraq for a while, but we have no basis for the current troop numbers. They only exist to support a failed military strategy which has been criticized by knowledgeable military analysts from inside and outside the current administration. It is hard at this point to tell just who George W. Bush is listening to, because his own military, most strategists, and many members of his own party, all agree the current strategy is ineffective.

    While it is useful to know that we were misled about the reasons for going in, and it is appropriate to investigate and try to make sure that doesn’t occur again, that problem doesn’t inform us about what to do now. We are there, so now we have a central policy concern: what do we do now that we have removed the civil and military government of Iraq, and are occupying the country?

    The infrastructure is in shambles, and billions of dollars are being wasted and stolen in the process of trying to rebuild it.
    The troop levels that would be required to bring order to Baghdad are many tens of thousands more than Bush has sent, and would probably have to be there for several years. The original surge proposal by Frederick Kagan called for 50,000 troops or more. Bush scaled it back (as usual) by more than half.

    So it is a quandary. We can do things in the other parts of Iraq that will help get their oil revenues flowing (very important to rebuilding the country). We can continue to wipe out terrorist cells in other areas of the country.

    We probably need to redeploy out of Baghdad, except to provide limited security for the government, so we don’t continue to be a target for insurgents. We can step in to prevent slaughter at times, but our military is a very blunt weapon (Fallujah is an example).
    We actually could be working with Iran and Syria to stop inciting Shiite actions against Sunnis. But that would require intense diplomacy, which Bush seems to be averse to.

    I don’t know of any serious candidate for president who presently believes that we should simply withdraw and leave the Iraqis to the kind of violence that would ensue. Sen. Biden has probably the most realistic proposal; his partition proposal reflects what is already happening on the ground. Hilary Clinton’s ‘cap’ doesn’t make much sense, seems mostly a symbolic gesture. Edwards would draw the troops down faster, but if you read his web site you find careful wording about continuing to fight terrorists and about regional security. The Republicans are giving the current policy lip service, but realize it could be political suicide. With critics like Chuck Hagel from within the party, we may have the beginnings of a bipartisan consensus developing: redeploy, draw down the troops gradually, hand off to the Iraqis (whether they are ready for it or not), and stand by to deal with humanitarian issues.

    We already have over 2 million Iraqis displaced by this war, so NGO’s are going to have to step in at some point to help them with housing. Mostly they are being displaced along sectarian lines, so we may simply have to accept that what Biden is proposing is de facto policy. Although it was against our stated policy, we accepted that in Bosnia and finally just decided that preventing slaughter (ethnic cleansing) was more important than retaining the existing ethnic configurations. A federation of autonomous regions seems to be in the cards. But if we leave too quickly, an anti-western theocracy open to terrorist networks is a real possibility.

    An accomplished diplomat who has the confidence of the administration and the regional governments could attempt to make headway by shuttling between the region’s powers and Iraq’s neighbors. Richard Holbrooke is an example of someone with credibility in the region, although he may be perceived as too much of a friend of Israel by some of the Arab states.

    There is never a guarantee of success with diplomacy. The upcoming regional conference might simply break down into a bunch of grandstanding and squabbling. But it is worth a try, was recommend by the Iraq Study Group, and might yield results.
    There are incentives that could be put before Syria. The hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled Iraq (most of the middle class has left Baghdad) have mostly settled in Syria and Jordan. Neither is a wealthy country; neither has significant oil revenue. Simply dealing with that developing crisis, probably through the UN and/or the Arab League, could bring Syria on board. What can Syria help with? Their borders are porous, and we could use some help keeping terrorist groups from continuing to infiltrate there. We have leverage with Syria if we choose to use it.

    Iran is a tougher case, because we have the whole nuclear program already under discussion. Sanctions applied against Iran over that could really damage their economy, which is actually pretty fragile. So they would be likely to try to tie those issues together as we press them to stop supplying insurgents in Iraq (and Lebanon; they provided most of the missiles Hezbollah was firing at Israel). We have less leverage with Iran. But what we’re doing right now is worse than nothing: Bush and the Iranian government have gotten into verbal sparring matches about who will attack whom and for what. We do not wish to draw Iran further into the war, and history shows that when you issue threats they tend to backfire.

    I have strong personal reasons for wanting to see our troops brought home as soon as possible. But I believe we have ethical and strategic reasons for acting more carefully.

  44. Don Shor

    I think the troop levels in Iraq should be reduced gradually in order to avoid a bloodbath. I don’t believe the surge will work in Baghdad. The military is not designed to police urban areas, and there is no precedent for the ‘partnering’ that Bush proposes we do with the Iraqis. The administration opposes benchmarks for a reason: the Iraqi government is very unlikely to meet any realistic benchmarks. Early on, at least, the troops they were sending to ‘partner’ with ours in Baghdad were at about 50 – 60% strength. They missed what would have been the first benchmark.

    I do believe increased troops in Anbar Province could be useful and could have been justified by the administration. In fact, Bush could have proposed a troop increase there within the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Those troops are doing counter-terrorism work, and have been reasonably effective at it. The local sheiks are beginning to support the nascent police organizations, even sending their sons to join. Extra troops could help. But most of the extra troops are going to Baghdad, with only a few thousand deployed in Anbar.

    The troops in Baghdad have absolutely nothing to do with counter-terrorism. They are trying to restore civil order in a city of 8 million, getting in the middle of sectarian conflict that was unleashed when we removed the dictator. We have limited options there, none of which are going to have great outcomes. Nobody wants this to end badly. Unfortunately, nothing we are doing seems likely to prevent it from ending badly. The only question now seems to be how badly, and who will get caught in the crossfire.

    The reason the congress should continue to try to put timetables is because the Bush administration has not provided a clear rationale for the current strategy, has refused to set any kind of benchmarks by which to assess it, and has not stated clearly what our objective is. It is a continuation of an open-ended, vaguely defined policy that appears to be primarily reactive.

    This isn’t the “ideological battle of our generation,” as Bush likes to say. And massive military force has always been proven ineffective for fighting terrorists, especially those in cells working from a decentralized command structure. There are Al Qaeda operating in dozens of countries–Sudan, Indonesia, Philippines, Somalia, and more. We can’t and shouldn’t invade those countries. Fighting small cells of terrorists is best done by counter-terrorist special-ops, of which we have plenty, and by strengthening the security forces of the existing government.

    We have reasons for keeping troops in Iraq for a while, but we have no basis for the current troop numbers. They only exist to support a failed military strategy which has been criticized by knowledgeable military analysts from inside and outside the current administration. It is hard at this point to tell just who George W. Bush is listening to, because his own military, most strategists, and many members of his own party, all agree the current strategy is ineffective.

    While it is useful to know that we were misled about the reasons for going in, and it is appropriate to investigate and try to make sure that doesn’t occur again, that problem doesn’t inform us about what to do now. We are there, so now we have a central policy concern: what do we do now that we have removed the civil and military government of Iraq, and are occupying the country?

    The infrastructure is in shambles, and billions of dollars are being wasted and stolen in the process of trying to rebuild it.
    The troop levels that would be required to bring order to Baghdad are many tens of thousands more than Bush has sent, and would probably have to be there for several years. The original surge proposal by Frederick Kagan called for 50,000 troops or more. Bush scaled it back (as usual) by more than half.

    So it is a quandary. We can do things in the other parts of Iraq that will help get their oil revenues flowing (very important to rebuilding the country). We can continue to wipe out terrorist cells in other areas of the country.

    We probably need to redeploy out of Baghdad, except to provide limited security for the government, so we don’t continue to be a target for insurgents. We can step in to prevent slaughter at times, but our military is a very blunt weapon (Fallujah is an example).
    We actually could be working with Iran and Syria to stop inciting Shiite actions against Sunnis. But that would require intense diplomacy, which Bush seems to be averse to.

    I don’t know of any serious candidate for president who presently believes that we should simply withdraw and leave the Iraqis to the kind of violence that would ensue. Sen. Biden has probably the most realistic proposal; his partition proposal reflects what is already happening on the ground. Hilary Clinton’s ‘cap’ doesn’t make much sense, seems mostly a symbolic gesture. Edwards would draw the troops down faster, but if you read his web site you find careful wording about continuing to fight terrorists and about regional security. The Republicans are giving the current policy lip service, but realize it could be political suicide. With critics like Chuck Hagel from within the party, we may have the beginnings of a bipartisan consensus developing: redeploy, draw down the troops gradually, hand off to the Iraqis (whether they are ready for it or not), and stand by to deal with humanitarian issues.

    We already have over 2 million Iraqis displaced by this war, so NGO’s are going to have to step in at some point to help them with housing. Mostly they are being displaced along sectarian lines, so we may simply have to accept that what Biden is proposing is de facto policy. Although it was against our stated policy, we accepted that in Bosnia and finally just decided that preventing slaughter (ethnic cleansing) was more important than retaining the existing ethnic configurations. A federation of autonomous regions seems to be in the cards. But if we leave too quickly, an anti-western theocracy open to terrorist networks is a real possibility.

    An accomplished diplomat who has the confidence of the administration and the regional governments could attempt to make headway by shuttling between the region’s powers and Iraq’s neighbors. Richard Holbrooke is an example of someone with credibility in the region, although he may be perceived as too much of a friend of Israel by some of the Arab states.

    There is never a guarantee of success with diplomacy. The upcoming regional conference might simply break down into a bunch of grandstanding and squabbling. But it is worth a try, was recommend by the Iraq Study Group, and might yield results.
    There are incentives that could be put before Syria. The hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled Iraq (most of the middle class has left Baghdad) have mostly settled in Syria and Jordan. Neither is a wealthy country; neither has significant oil revenue. Simply dealing with that developing crisis, probably through the UN and/or the Arab League, could bring Syria on board. What can Syria help with? Their borders are porous, and we could use some help keeping terrorist groups from continuing to infiltrate there. We have leverage with Syria if we choose to use it.

    Iran is a tougher case, because we have the whole nuclear program already under discussion. Sanctions applied against Iran over that could really damage their economy, which is actually pretty fragile. So they would be likely to try to tie those issues together as we press them to stop supplying insurgents in Iraq (and Lebanon; they provided most of the missiles Hezbollah was firing at Israel). We have less leverage with Iran. But what we’re doing right now is worse than nothing: Bush and the Iranian government have gotten into verbal sparring matches about who will attack whom and for what. We do not wish to draw Iran further into the war, and history shows that when you issue threats they tend to backfire.

    I have strong personal reasons for wanting to see our troops brought home as soon as possible. But I believe we have ethical and strategic reasons for acting more carefully.

  45. Karl

    Hm, not to interrupt this debate, but in keeping with the actual original topic of the blog post, it might be time to dust off the Charlie Brown buttons a little sooner than we all thought.

    http://www.rollcall.com/issues/1_1/breakingnews/18065-1.html

    http://www.sacbee.com/749/story/158547.html

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0407/3532.html

    Doolittle is looking dead in the water, and although I don’t expect him to step down soon (i.e. within the next few months) I would say we have a very decent chance of getting a special election up in the 4th district. And that should put Charlie Brown in office, IF people get out on the ground to help him.

    He came very close last time, in a conservative district against an entrenched incumbent. And best of all, every one of his major campaign talking points will work better now than it did 6 months ago. Corruption? Check. Iraq catastrophe? Check.

    And unlike the last special down in Southern California, it is going to be a lot harder for Republicans to mobilize for this one, primarily because of geography, and potentially much easier to draw a Democratic base who are itching to do something.

    I also like, from a strategic standpoint, that he is mostly standing back and letting this unfold. Doolittle has a lot further to fall from grace in this, and I think C-Brown is going to do well to stay back and let Doolittle really implode before jumping into the fray.

  46. Karl

    Hm, not to interrupt this debate, but in keeping with the actual original topic of the blog post, it might be time to dust off the Charlie Brown buttons a little sooner than we all thought.

    http://www.rollcall.com/issues/1_1/breakingnews/18065-1.html

    http://www.sacbee.com/749/story/158547.html

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0407/3532.html

    Doolittle is looking dead in the water, and although I don’t expect him to step down soon (i.e. within the next few months) I would say we have a very decent chance of getting a special election up in the 4th district. And that should put Charlie Brown in office, IF people get out on the ground to help him.

    He came very close last time, in a conservative district against an entrenched incumbent. And best of all, every one of his major campaign talking points will work better now than it did 6 months ago. Corruption? Check. Iraq catastrophe? Check.

    And unlike the last special down in Southern California, it is going to be a lot harder for Republicans to mobilize for this one, primarily because of geography, and potentially much easier to draw a Democratic base who are itching to do something.

    I also like, from a strategic standpoint, that he is mostly standing back and letting this unfold. Doolittle has a lot further to fall from grace in this, and I think C-Brown is going to do well to stay back and let Doolittle really implode before jumping into the fray.

  47. Karl

    Hm, not to interrupt this debate, but in keeping with the actual original topic of the blog post, it might be time to dust off the Charlie Brown buttons a little sooner than we all thought.

    http://www.rollcall.com/issues/1_1/breakingnews/18065-1.html

    http://www.sacbee.com/749/story/158547.html

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0407/3532.html

    Doolittle is looking dead in the water, and although I don’t expect him to step down soon (i.e. within the next few months) I would say we have a very decent chance of getting a special election up in the 4th district. And that should put Charlie Brown in office, IF people get out on the ground to help him.

    He came very close last time, in a conservative district against an entrenched incumbent. And best of all, every one of his major campaign talking points will work better now than it did 6 months ago. Corruption? Check. Iraq catastrophe? Check.

    And unlike the last special down in Southern California, it is going to be a lot harder for Republicans to mobilize for this one, primarily because of geography, and potentially much easier to draw a Democratic base who are itching to do something.

    I also like, from a strategic standpoint, that he is mostly standing back and letting this unfold. Doolittle has a lot further to fall from grace in this, and I think C-Brown is going to do well to stay back and let Doolittle really implode before jumping into the fray.

  48. Karl

    Hm, not to interrupt this debate, but in keeping with the actual original topic of the blog post, it might be time to dust off the Charlie Brown buttons a little sooner than we all thought.

    http://www.rollcall.com/issues/1_1/breakingnews/18065-1.html

    http://www.sacbee.com/749/story/158547.html

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0407/3532.html

    Doolittle is looking dead in the water, and although I don’t expect him to step down soon (i.e. within the next few months) I would say we have a very decent chance of getting a special election up in the 4th district. And that should put Charlie Brown in office, IF people get out on the ground to help him.

    He came very close last time, in a conservative district against an entrenched incumbent. And best of all, every one of his major campaign talking points will work better now than it did 6 months ago. Corruption? Check. Iraq catastrophe? Check.

    And unlike the last special down in Southern California, it is going to be a lot harder for Republicans to mobilize for this one, primarily because of geography, and potentially much easier to draw a Democratic base who are itching to do something.

    I also like, from a strategic standpoint, that he is mostly standing back and letting this unfold. Doolittle has a lot further to fall from grace in this, and I think C-Brown is going to do well to stay back and let Doolittle really implode before jumping into the fray.

  49. Dave Hart

    Don, you’ve obviously been doing a LOT of thinking about this. If we rewind history back to the end of the Iran/Iraq war where there was a standoff and there were opportunities to increase trade relations (economic carrots) with both countries, one can only think of the myriad of missed opportunities and hundreds of thousands of lost lives. One must also consider the successive and ever increasing “mistakes” and that maybe it was always set up to go down this way for unstated reasons.

    I wouldn’t look for logic based on what has been said by Bush/Cheney, Clinton or Bush I. The only way to view the Middle East is through the lens of strategic concerns. Strategic control of resources. Strategic control of trade and throttling of military rivalry. Not the elimination, but the throttling of it for the purposes of those who are the deciders. It’s a planned development and our sons and daughters are the grist for the mill. It is a crime of such incredible proportions that it is difficult to see it as such by regular people like us.

  50. Dave Hart

    Don, you’ve obviously been doing a LOT of thinking about this. If we rewind history back to the end of the Iran/Iraq war where there was a standoff and there were opportunities to increase trade relations (economic carrots) with both countries, one can only think of the myriad of missed opportunities and hundreds of thousands of lost lives. One must also consider the successive and ever increasing “mistakes” and that maybe it was always set up to go down this way for unstated reasons.

    I wouldn’t look for logic based on what has been said by Bush/Cheney, Clinton or Bush I. The only way to view the Middle East is through the lens of strategic concerns. Strategic control of resources. Strategic control of trade and throttling of military rivalry. Not the elimination, but the throttling of it for the purposes of those who are the deciders. It’s a planned development and our sons and daughters are the grist for the mill. It is a crime of such incredible proportions that it is difficult to see it as such by regular people like us.

  51. Dave Hart

    Don, you’ve obviously been doing a LOT of thinking about this. If we rewind history back to the end of the Iran/Iraq war where there was a standoff and there were opportunities to increase trade relations (economic carrots) with both countries, one can only think of the myriad of missed opportunities and hundreds of thousands of lost lives. One must also consider the successive and ever increasing “mistakes” and that maybe it was always set up to go down this way for unstated reasons.

    I wouldn’t look for logic based on what has been said by Bush/Cheney, Clinton or Bush I. The only way to view the Middle East is through the lens of strategic concerns. Strategic control of resources. Strategic control of trade and throttling of military rivalry. Not the elimination, but the throttling of it for the purposes of those who are the deciders. It’s a planned development and our sons and daughters are the grist for the mill. It is a crime of such incredible proportions that it is difficult to see it as such by regular people like us.

  52. Dave Hart

    Don, you’ve obviously been doing a LOT of thinking about this. If we rewind history back to the end of the Iran/Iraq war where there was a standoff and there were opportunities to increase trade relations (economic carrots) with both countries, one can only think of the myriad of missed opportunities and hundreds of thousands of lost lives. One must also consider the successive and ever increasing “mistakes” and that maybe it was always set up to go down this way for unstated reasons.

    I wouldn’t look for logic based on what has been said by Bush/Cheney, Clinton or Bush I. The only way to view the Middle East is through the lens of strategic concerns. Strategic control of resources. Strategic control of trade and throttling of military rivalry. Not the elimination, but the throttling of it for the purposes of those who are the deciders. It’s a planned development and our sons and daughters are the grist for the mill. It is a crime of such incredible proportions that it is difficult to see it as such by regular people like us.

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