Lieberman gets it

December 29, 2006 at 9:43 am

At least one Democrat clearly understands the stakes in Iraq. Joe Lieberman in a Washington Post OpEd today:

I’ve just spent 10 days traveling in the Middle East and speaking to leaders there, all of which has made one thing clearer to me than ever: While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States. Iraq is the most deadly battlefield on which that conflict is being fought. How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.

Troop surge option divides Dems

December 18, 2006 at 10:11 am

President Bush is reportedly leaning toward injecting as many as 50,000 new troops into the Iraq conflict in an effort to establish security. Fred Barnes writes about the plan:

It envisions a temporary addition of 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. The initial mission would be to secure and hold the mixed Baghdad neighborhoods of Shia and Sunni residents where most of the violence occurs. Earlier efforts had cleared many of those sections of the city without holding them. After which, the mass killings resumed. Once neighborhoods are cleared, American and Iraqi troops in this plan would remain behind, living day-to-day among the population. Local government leaders would receive protection and rewards if they stepped in to provide basic services. Safe from retaliation by terrorists, residents would begin to cooperate with the Iraqi government. The securing of Baghdad would be followed by a full-scale drive to pacify the Sunni-majority Anbar province.

Soon to be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid likes the idea:

The Senate’s incoming majority leader said he would support a temporary increase of U.S. military forces in Iraq, so long as any such act was tied to a withdrawal by 2008.

“If it’s for a surge — that is, for two or three months — and it’s part of a program to get us out of there as indicated by this time next year, then, sure, I’ll go along with it,” Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

But how will more liberal elements of the Democratic Party react? In their eyes, wouldn’t this be seen as making a bad mistake worse?  Ted Kennedy speaks for the extreme left when he says he disagrees with Reid:

“Well, I respect Harry Reid on it, but that’s not where I am,” Mr. Kennedy told “Fox News Sunday.” “The generals who have testified before the Armed Services Committee think that we would add to being a crutch for the Iraqi civilian government in not making the right judgments and decisions. I think that is a persuasive case and is one that I support.”

And speaking of the Kos crowd, here is there reaction:

I try to tell myself not to second guess Senator Reid too often…

The political problem, of course, is the same one we’ve been dealing with all along. Fear of the “Dems are soft on the war/terror” meme. Or its evil twin, “We coulda won if it hadn’t been for those meddling Democrats.”

But the time has come to cut Bush off. He’s out of political capital, and is casting his eyes about to see if anyone will nod assent to putting his counterfeit Rolex on the table to get back in the game.

Nobody profits from playing cards with a degenerate gambler who can’t cover his bets. Least of all one who has nothing to lose from taking a beating rather than paying up.

It seems that the Kos contingency will not be happy with anything other than withdrawal. The “surge” option puts Democrats in an awkward position. If they oppose it, they run the risk of appearing disinterested in victory in Iraq. If they support it they own a new Iraq policy and therefore own the Iraq problem.

Santorum details reasons for voting against Gates

December 7, 2006 at 2:58 pm

Yesterday the Senate confirmed Robert Gates as the new Defense Secretary by a 95-2 vote. Rick Santorum voted no, and in the floor speech in the extended section he gives his reasons which are worth reading.  People will criticize Santorum for this speech and they will continue to say he is using scare tactics and that he is a warmonger. But unfortunately, I don’t think history’s judgement will be so harsh. I fear history’s judgement made prove Santorum right. He should keep giving these speeches…someone has too. Read the rest of this entry »

Reyes: We cannot afford to leave Iraq

December 6, 2006 at 11:51 am

The new Chairman of the House Intel Committee is breaking with many of his Democrat colleagues on the Iraq issue.

Newsweek reports:

In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to “dismantle the militias.”

Reyes rejects the idea of timetable withdrawals and appears to be intent on finishing the job in Iraq.

“We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies,” Reyes said. “We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq … We certainly can’t leave Iraq and run the risk that it becomes [like] Afghanistan” was before the 2001 invasion by the United States.

Reyes also stressed that there needed to be greater “political accountability” demanded of the Iraqi government. But on the core issue of the U.S. commitment, Reyes—a Vietnam War veteran who partially lost his hearing in that conflict—even compared his position to that of another Vietnam vet, Sen. John McCain, a staunch supporter of the Iraq war. Like Reyes, McCain also has called for an increase in U.S. troop strength. When asked how many additional troops he envisioned sending to Iraq, Reyes replied: “I would say 20,000 to 30,000—for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military.”

When a reporter suggested that was not a position that was likely to be popular with many House Democrats, Reyes replied: “Well again, I differ in that I don’t want Iraq to become the next Afghanistan. We could not allow Iraq to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda, for Hamas, for Hizbullah, or anybody else. We cannot allow Iran or Syria to have a free hand in there to further destabilize the Middle East.”

The Newsweek piece goes on to quote Reyes as telling Pelosi that “we can’t afford” to leave Iraq. “And anybody who says, we are going pull out our troops immediately, is being dishonest,” said Reyes. “We’re all interested in getting out of Iraq. That’s a common goal. How we do it, I think, is the tough part. There are those that say, they don’t care what Iraq looks like once we leave there. Let’s just leave there. And I argue against that. I don’t think that’s responsible. And I think it plays right into the hands of Syria and Iran.”

Iraq Study Group report

December 6, 2006 at 9:42 am

The Iraq Study Group will unveil their recommendations for Iraq within the hour. There has been plenty of criticism of the report before it has even been released.

In so much as the report urges the Administration to invite Iran and Syria to play a greater role in Iraq it should receive criticism. But other parts of the report that are said to reject partition of Iraq and as well as calls for immediate withdrawal should be praised.

It looks like it is going to be a mish-mash of some good and some bad. The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano talks about the good, bad and ugly from the ISG.

UPDATE: Upon receiving the report this morning the President made the following remarks:

“I just received the Iraq Study Group report, prepared by a distinguished panel of our fellow citizens. I want to thank James Baker and Lee Hamilton and the panel members for spending a lot of time on this really difficult issue. And I thank you for coming into the White House today to give me a copy of this report.”I told the members that this report, called ‘The Way Forward,’ will be taken very seriously by this administration. This report gives a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq. It is a report that brings some really very interesting proposals, and we will take every proposal seriously and we will act in a timely fashion.

“The commission is headed up to Congress, and I urge the members of Congress to take this report seriously. While they won’t agree with every proposal – and we probably won’t agree with every proposal – it, nevertheless, is an opportunity to come together and to work together on this important issue.

“The country, in my judgment, is tired of pure political bickering that happens in Washington, and they understand that on this important issue of war and peace, it is best for our country to work together. And I understand how difficult that is, but this report will give us all an opportunity to find common ground, for the good of the country – not for the good of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, but for the good of the country.

“We can achieve long-lasting peace for this country, and it requires tough work. It also requires a strategy that will be effective. And we’ve got men and women of both political parties around this table who spent a lot of time thinking about the way forward in Iraq, and the way forward in the Middle East, and I can’t thank them enough for your time. You could be doing a lot of other things, you could have had a lot more simple life than to allow your government to call you back into service. But you did allow us to call you back into service, and you made a vital contribution to the country. Our fellow citizens have got to know that it is possible for people of goodwill to come together to help make recommendations on how to deal with a very serious situation.

“And we applaud your work. We take it very seriously, and we’ll act on it in a timely fashion. Thank you very much.”

UPDATE: More reactions coming in…

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell:

“I think we all know there is no quick or easy way to complete the important mission in Iraq, and those who hoped this report would provide a get-done-quick solution will be disappointed. And though we won’t reach agreement overnight, this is an opportunity for us to work in a bipartisan way with Democrats and the White House and reach consensus on one of the most critical issues before the Congress.”

House Majority Leader John Boehner:

“The American people are understandably concerned about our mission in a post-Saddam Iraq. There have been many tough days since Iraq’s liberation and transition to a sovereign democracy, and there will be more ahead. But our goal has been and must continue to be victory over Iraq’s terrorist elements and their supporters - plain and simple. While advancing freedom and building democracies in a part of the world that has known nothing but tyranny is a difficult task, we have no choice but to win. We will not accomplish victory by setting arbitrary deadlines or negotiating with hostile governments.

“The recommendations from the Iraq Study Group offer a constructive review of the current situation in Iraq. There are also other ongoing reviews that will make recommendations and provide counsel to the Administration for moving forward. The American people rightly expect progress in Iraq, and all of these assessments should be given the due respect and consideration they deserve. But we must not retreat from our obligations to help stabilize Iraq, nor should we give in to the notion that it is in our interests to strike deals with our enemies.

“I was pleased that the ISG agreed with the President and congressional Republicans that arbitrary deadlines or premature withdrawals would embolden every terrorist in every corner of the world. Setting an arbitrary date for defeat is not in the security interests of the American people. Rooting out the terrorist elements in Iraq, and helping the Iraqis stabilize their democracy, will be another blow to the threat posed by radical terrorism to the U.S. and our allies around the globe.”

UPDATE: Here is the official report.

UPDATE: Senator Dick Durbin took the Senate floor moments ago saying that the report made clear that it was time to withdraw troops from Iraq.

The stakes are high

November 20, 2006 at 11:10 am

Victor Davis Hanson is a MUST-READ today. I won’t even bother lifting any of the text…his column which asks, “Will the West stumble” must be consumed in its entirety. Read the whole thing, understand the stakes.

Gone

November 8, 2006 at 1:00 pm

Rumsfeld resigns…

Soldiers: Iraq pullout would be devastating

November 6, 2006 at 10:25 am

Here is a must read piece in today’s Washington Post:

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SYKES, Iraq, Nov. 5 — For the U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, the war is alternately violent and hopeful, sometimes very hot and sometimes very cold. It is dusty and muddy, calm and chaotic, deafeningly loud and eerily quiet.

The one thing the war is not, however, is finished, dozens of soldiers across the country said in interviews. And leaving Iraq now would have devastating consequences, they said.

With a potentially historic U.S. midterm election on Tuesday and the war in Iraq a major issue at the polls, many soldiers said the United States should not abandon its effort here. Such a move, enlisted soldiers and officers said, would set Iraq on a path to civil war, give new life to the insurgency and create the possibility of a failed state after nearly four years of fighting to implant democracy.

Need more reasons not to abandon the job before it is done? James Carafano gives you five.

Foot in mouth disease…exhibit A

October 31, 2006 at 12:01 pm

This is one of those rare moments when a politician lets his actual true colors show. Unfortunately for Kerry, I don’t think too many Americans, let alone the men and women of the Armed Forces, will take this comment very well…nor should they. Serving your nation in the way our military does in Iraq is as noble an endeavor as they come. It is not, as Kerry apparently believes, a job America sends screw-ups to go do.