Monday, January 08, 2007

Time to "draw a line in the sand" on Iraq

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

There are so many examples of why we are at a critical time in Iraq right now that I won’t list them all here – but certainly any of my prior diaries (or many of the others) over the past few months will give many examples of the rapidly deteriorating situation. So why is this time, RIGHT NOW, a time where a line needs to be drawn in the sand with respect to Iraq?

Simply put - this may be the last opportunity overall for a serious discussion of redeployment and withdrawal before Bush, McCain, Lieberman, the American Enterprise Institute and the suddenly regrouped neocons push this into not only a failed occupation in the midst of a bloody civil war (bordering on genocide) but also a situation where we will be unable to safely withdraw our troops and a situation of many more years stuck in this disaster.

As word leaks out about the proposed escalation plan, more and more information is becoming available that shows the true intentions of those who are so willing to send other people and their families off to kill and die for lies and greed. And even thought we here thought it all along, the intentions are not “short term” or even feasible – but rather, more pie in the sky rhetoric that will only prolong the death and destruction of Iraqis and threaten to drag the entire Middle East down with it.

Last week, Reid and Pelosi sent a strongly worded letter to Bush opposing the escalation. While I was a bit skeptical that there was not much more that would be done, Pelosi surprised me with her strong words yesterday as well. Additionally, the good folks at ThinkProgress are keeping tally of the sane republicans who are coming out against this disastrous idea.

Of course, lost in the shuffle here are the words of those who are truly pushing for endless war in the guise of “defeating the terrorists” and “winning in Iraq”. In a post at The Nation, Ari Berman talks about the “real plans” of the AEI, as well as McCain and Lieberman:

An event at AEI yesteday brought together the intellectual progenitors of escalation: military historian Fred Kagan, retired General Jack Keane and Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman. The focus was not on how to clean up the neocons mess, but on how to deepen it.

Berman cited McCain’s comments from Sunday’s LA Times article that discusses McCain’s, AEI military analyst Frederick Kagan and retired General Jack Keane’s comments to the AEI:
A strategy advocated by McCain and Keane, who has advised Bush on Iraq policy, calls for about 30,000 additional troops who would remain in Iraq from 18 months to two years. About 140,000 U.S. troops are now in Iraq.

The proposal has heavily influenced administration thinking, and it has strong advocates within the Pentagon and White House, setting up tension between those advocating a broad troop buildup and those supporting a more limited increase.

"The worst of all worlds would be a short, small surge of U.S. forces," McCain said at a forum on the final version of the plan, developed by Keane and Frederick Kagan, a military analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. "This troop surge [must be] significant and sustained; otherwise, don't do it."


"The enemy always expects us to surge and leave," said Kagan, a former faculty member at the U.S. Military Academy. "If we surge for three or six months and then pull our forces back, the enemy will be right there waiting."

For the record, I hardly think that there is a way that they will revert into the “don’t do it” camp. And McCain’s comments were made before “a packed room” at the AEI. Of course, Kagan’s remarks are strikingly similar to the ones that I made both here and at RedState, but alas, he gets paid the big bucks and I am stuck putting numbers in boxes.

But there is so much more than these comments. There is “bipartisan” Lieberman’s comments:

"The battlefield is in Baghdad and Al-Anbar, not in Washington," Lieberman said. "We need to support the President as he goes forward."

Um, Joe - WE don’t need to support the president. WE (in fact nearly 90% of “us”) are against this terrible idea with little thought to anything other than “yeah, send more troops”.

There is the recent NY Times article where the new US Commander in Iraq Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno indicates the following about how long we may be in Iraq for:

The new American operational commander in Iraq said Sunday that even with the additional American troops likely to be deployed in Baghdad under President Bush’s new war strategy it might take another “two or three years” for American and Iraqi forces to gain the upper hand in the war.

There is the LA Times article (linked above) indicating that an alternative to the immediate escalation would be a longer term escalation:
Although the most likely scenario includes an increase of 20,000 troops, another option is a gradual increase of forces, with perhaps a portion of new forces sent into Iraq while other brigades stayed in the U.S. or Kuwait as backup.

There is the additional $100 billion that is going to be requested by Bush:
The White House is working on its largest-ever appeal for more war funds - a record $100 billion, at least. It will be submitted along with Bush's Feb. 5 budget.

While it is unclear now if this will be PART of the budget or IN ADDITION to the budget – this hits on a theme that I mentioned last week. No funding for Iraq outside of the normal budget process. This is a more palatable way to draw a line with respect to “blank checks” and “emergency” requests than it is to just stop funding the occupation altogether. Although, that being said, I will say that I am getting more and more to the point where the funding not only should be limited to the budget process, but there should be specific monies for certain items and all other “general appropriations” should not be passed in the budget.

The funding should be done with an eye to funding only those items that will go towards equipment and proper gear for the troops, international humanitarian efforts to stop the genocide, and a definitive redeployment plan – with or without timeframes. I will say that we need more of the rhetoric that we are hearing from Speaker Pelosi regarding the continued funding of this debacle.

But it is clear what is going on now. There is a major battle going on – and by fighting the “escalation/no escalation” or the “surge/no surge” battle – we are missing the larger picture. It is time to talk seriously about getting out now, or it will be too late. The escalation itself, whether it is “short term” or for two years isn’t the issue. It is the repercussions of the escalation and the impact that it will have on Iraqis, our troops, the surrounding countries and the future direction of this country.

Stopping the escalation is part of the bigger picture – this is the time to say, “enough, we need to talk about getting out”. Those in favor of escalation are in favor of perpetual war. We need to not only stop this but also put withdrawal and international humanitarian efforts back in the forefront.

We are running out of time, and we can’t let the “escalate/do not escalate” distract us from the real issue.

We need to get our troops out of there.

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