Wednesday, February 28, 2007

So, how does it end?

Front paged at My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

House Democrats now think that a smack on the wrist is the way to go with respect to Iraq. Lieberman talks out of his ass, yet again. Senator Ben Nelson says that they will “take up the Iraq war again and again and again”

Ever the voice of sanity, Senator Feingold will not vote for anything that the President could read as an authorization for continuing with a large military campaign in Iraq. Senator Byrd thinks that putting restrictions on the war is an “untenable position” and does not support Murtha’s plan.

The military chiefs responsible for implementing Bush’s half assed plan think that if we don’t “win” in six months then we face a Vietnam style collapse:

The main obstacles confronting Gen Petraeus's team are:

* Insufficent numbers of troops on the ground

* A "disintegrating" international coalition

* An anticipated upsurge in violence in the south as the British leave

* Morale problems as casualties rise

* A failure of political will in Washington and/or Baghdad

"The scene is very tense. They are working round the clock. Endless cups of tea with the Iraqis," the former senior administration official said. "But they're still trying to figure out what's the plan. The president is expecting progress. But they're thinking, what does he mean? The plan is changing every minute, as all plans do."

The biggest hurdle? Not enough troops:
According to the US military's revised counter-insurgency field manual, FM 3-24, authored by Gen Petraeus, the optimum "troop-to-task" ratio for Baghdad requires 120,000 US and allied troops in the city alone. Current totals, even including often unreliable Iraqi units, fall short of that number. The deficit is even greater in conflict areas outside Baghdad.

I’ll take this moment to point out, yet again, that both General Shinseki and Secretary of State Powell wanted hundreds of thousands of more troops at the outset of the invasion. And even McCain and Frederick Kagan wanted more than 20,000 troops for this escalation.

Violence is getting worse and worse in Iraq every day. Another $100 billion in funding requests sits before the Senate Appropriations Committee as we speak. An interesting idea that could restart all of Iraq’s state run businesses (and put around 150,000 Iraqis back to work almost immediately) would only cost $100 million – which is less money than will be spent by the time I get to my office tomorrow AM – is apparently being held up because of politics here in Washington.

republican Senators, Congressmen and women, talking meatsticks are basically DARING the Democrats to repeal the AUMF or cut funding – they know that the public wants it, but that the Democrats don’t have the guts votes. And guess who looks bad here?

People like Speaker Pelosi are put in a bad position here, because she has to deal with the attacks from republicans while trying to do the right thing:

"We're listening to our colleagues about what form they want that supplemental to take," Pelosi said. But, sensitive to the GOP attacks, the speaker said: "We will fund the troops as long as they are in harm's way."

And as long as more and more funding is approved – without conditions (real conditions), the troops will continue to be in harm’s way.

The new Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell said yesterday that the violence in Iraq is now “self sustaining”. There is dissent in the Senate on what to do about the AUMF, and now debate has been postponed until a debate on the 9/11 Commission recommendations will be held:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reiterated yesterday that his members have not settled on an approach to reining in the raging conflict in Iraq, despite Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) openly pursuing a plan to replace the 2002 congressional authorization of force with a narrower mission.

Being against the war is great. Being outspoken about it is better. Being honest about it is also better. But drawing a line in the sand is what Americans want. Every day brings worse news. More death. More destruction. More breakdown of the political process.

We can’t stay there much longer. That much is pretty much agreed on. But with the breakdown of the “coalition of the willing”, the saber rattling about Iran, the growing dissatisfaction with the civil war-turning-to-genocide in Iraq, the resurgence of the Taliban and al Qaeda, the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan – something has to give.

The only question is – how does it end?

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