Saturday, December 03, 2005

Around the Net Today - Blogs and More

Around the Net Today - Blogs and More has posted an interview with former Senator John Edwards: 'India must realise danger of nuclear Iran'

Speaking of Senator John Edwards, the Hotline, National Journal's Daily Briefing on Politics has given the One America blog the "thumbs up." This makes me very happy, since I have played a part in writing blog entries and facilitating the current Book Club at the website.
Aspiring presidential candidates are dipping their pinkies into the blogosphere. Real blogging is hard. It requires the candidate's staff to accept some measure of unpredictability and to relinquish message control. Many '08 hopefuls have therefore opted for the option of calling a list of press releases a "blog," which will not endear them to purists...The most active potential candidate is Sen. John Edwards, whose post 11/04 outreach to bloggers included a private home-cooked meal at his Georgetown manse. That means Edwards knows the biggest secret to obtaining cred in the blog world: treat like them the media they aspire to be and give them access. Edwards is wont to post pronouncements to his site before they appear elsewhere; his "I was wrong" op-ed in the Washington Post was previewed on the blog. Edwards' site contains original editorial content almost every day, although there are quite a few "open threads." Elizabeth Edwards lurks through the comments section and has been known to correspond with posters.

*A tip of the hat to Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly

Natalie Davis has a comprehensive blogpost about the Courage of Pacifists.

Tom Englehardt tells us about How (Not) to Withdraw from Iraq

The AP is talking about a Democratic event coming up in Florida next weekend:
Next weekend will be an important rally for Democrats. Speakers will include Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, last year's vice presidential candidate John Edwards, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, a rising Democratic star from Illinois. "Those are some pretty big names," said Corrigan. "National leaders sense political opportunity. Maybe the idea is if they can turn Florida, they can turn the whole nation, or a significant part of it."

Comments seen at this diary on TPM Cafe:
"In 2008, we must work to get an antiwar Democrat elected like Wes Clark, who understands that war is a last resort or John Edwards who understands that Iraq has gone terribly wrong, and it is time to end it. These antiwar candidates postion reflect the opinion of America, and we will be successful if they were to be nominated..."

"...John Edwards, Wes Clark, and Russ Feingold are stong candidates that want the war won fast, and quick. They do not support a full withdraw, but their solutions resolve the issues more diplomatically by using economic and international help from other countries."

"..I would love to see an Edwards/Clark ticket in 2008. It would be very powerful, and the combination would be able to save this country. Edwards domestic policy strengths, and Clark's foreign policy strengths."

"..I want the White House in 2008, and I think the best candidates to take it back are: Mark Warner, John Edwards, Wes Clark, and Evan Bayh. Any of those candidates would make good Presidents and could win..."

At Daily Kos, DavidNYC has written about Senator Joe Biden, and how he was transparent when he spoke about former Senator John Edwards, who recently said that he thought his vote to authorize the Iraq war was a mistake. Biden's reaction:
"I think he did make a mistake. He voted for the war and against funding it, I think that was a mistake.
That kind of talk isn't going over too big with many Democrats.

Drew says it about as clear as it can be said:
What Edwards voted against was a bill that would fund the war but not require any plan from the administration. And he voted against it for that reason. At the time, Biden must have thought it was acceptable to give an "incompetent" admininstration $87 billion with which to further prove their incompetence.
Matt Bellamy comments:
"...the campaign hasn't even started and he's already going negative against [Sen. John] Edwards. And he's borrowing right-wing talking points from the last campaign in order to do it. Sickening."
Sterno is burning over it:
The thing that pisses me off here is that Biden didn't have to turn on Edwards to make his statement. Rather than making a statement against the administration policy, he goes after Edwards. I'm assuming he's setting up a distinction for the 2008 primary. Let me assure you Biden, I'll do everything I can to make sure you aren't getting that nomination.
Rooktoven makes a prediction:
I'd bet any amount of money I had that Edwards is one of the last 3 Dems standing (IMO he'll be the nominee,) and that Biden will be Joementum--The Sequel.
Cathy believes Joe Biden has become a student of Rovian-style campaign-speak:
He just knifed Edwards for his own gain. Hoping to set himself apart as the grown up in contention for the nomination. I think Democrats can pretty much criticize each other's votes, but this is just a thinly veiled questioning of the motivation of Edwards, using right wing words.
The Austin Cynic is looking for something that I'll wager he'll never see:
I'm not going to bash Edwards for admitting he made a mistake, but neither am I going to pat him on the back. You have it exactly right. At the time of the IWR, Bush had never proven himself to be trustworthy in any way. The first Democrat that can admit that the voted for the IWR and supported the war for purely political reasons will get real kudos from me.
Ouch! TampaCPA really lays it on:
Biden has done a good job showing the difference between himself and John Edwards. Edwards has a soul!

Plan For Victory?

Plan for Victory?

At Annapolis this week, President Bush spoke with the banner "Plan for Victory" behind him. I listened - and guess what? I didn't hear the plan.

Did you?

Maybe it's in the booklet. I guess we'll have to comb through the fine details in the booklet in order to get some clarity.

From the booklet:


As the central front in the global war on terror, success in Iraq is an essential element in the long war against the ideology that breeds international terrorism. Unlike past wars, however, victory in Iraq will not come in the form of an enemy's surrender, or be signaled by a single particular event -- there will be no Battleship Missouri, no Appomattox. The ultimate victory will be achieved in stages, and we expect:

In the short term:

An Iraq that is making steady progress in fighting terrorists and neutralizing the insurgency, meeting political milestones; building democratic institutions; standing up robust security forces to gather intelligence, destroy terrorist networks, and maintain security; and tackling key economic reforms to lay the foundation for a sound economy.

In the medium term:

- An Iraq that is in the lead defeating terrorists and insurgents and providing its own security, with a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region, and well on its way to achieving its economic potential.

In the longer term:

- An Iraq that has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency.

- An Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country.

- An Iraq that is a partner in the global war on terror and the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, integrated into the international community, an engine for regional economic growth, and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region.

So, from what we can gather, they say that there will be no surrender - no white flags waving - no bells or whistles, no bullhorns screaming "WE WON!" In the short term (whatever that is - it's not defined), there will be a "neutralized" insurgency; destruction of terrorist networks. That hasn't happened yet - we're not even close - and we won WWII decisively in four years, mind you...and three years into this mess, we are still in "the short term". Only one Iraqi army battalion can fight independently after three years! So what, pray tell, is LONG term in this war?! This sucker's going to last forever.

In the "medium term," an Iraq that "inspires" will have to be an Iraq who can defend its people from massacre in brutal civil wars to come. Roaming Shiite militias (in place of any bona fide law-respecting police force or judicial system) are not an inspiration. Secret Iraqi torture-prisons are not an inspiration. Any loss of women's rights (leaving them worse off than they were under Saddam Hussein) is not an inspiration. I'm not inspired. Why am I so "underwhelmed?" (*my favorite non-word)Are you "underwhelmed?"

In the "long term," (how long is long?), a scenario where Iraq has 'done it' all by themselves (not likely to happen any time this century) and is now a champion defender of "freedom" (by 'freedom,' do they mean what freedom means to them - or to us?) and is now a beacon for a completely different culture to be inspired to "go West" is such a stretch that it hardly rates an honest critique.

In the long term, if we stay on this course, as it stands without a new international organization to handle the new global concerns, tensions and wars of the twenty-first Century, Iraq will be dissolved...lost to the Islamists. The entire Middle East may be destabilized. America's best interests will be eventually isolated because of our ignorant empire-unilateralism. The common American citizens' interests will not be served - neither for their economic or their security interests. Americans will be war-poor, having sunk all their precious treasure into a venture that backfired on them.

If we're doing such an exemplary job in making Iraq safe for freedom, then why did a brand new poll called "Arab Attitudes Toward Political and Social Issues, Foreign Policy and the Media," (by the University of Maryland and Zogby International) show that Iraq has become "the new prism of pain" through which Arabs view the United States and much of the rest of the world? From a Kuwait News Agency report: "Asked about the U.S. advocating the spread of democracy in the Middle East, especially since the Iraq war, 69 percent of the total poll respondents said they "do not believe democracy is a real objective," while 16 percent said democracy is an important objective, but the United States is "going about it the wrong way." Only 6 percent said democracy is an important objective that "will make a difference".

The new Bush Iraq-strategy booklet states that the war on terrorism is the defining challenge of our generation, just as the struggle against communism and fascism were challenges of the generations before. If that's true, where is the international community? Why aren't they out there expounding on the danger of the Islamic Jihad's universal appeal? Zbigniew Brzezinski has this to say:
By asserting that Islamic extremism, "like the ideology of communism . . . is the great challenge of our new century," Bush is implicitly elevating Osama bin Laden's stature and historic significance to the level of figures such as Lenin, Stalin or Mao. And that suggests, in turn, that the fugitive Saudi dissident hiding in some cave (or perhaps even deceased) has been articulating a doctrine of universal significance. Underlying the president's analogy is the proposition that bin Laden's "jihad" has the potential for dominating the minds and hearts of hundreds of millions of people across national and even religious boundaries. That is quite a compliment to bin Laden, but it isn't justified.
So - what is the international community doing about terrorism without the U.S. in a lead role?

On the Diplomacy side, they are initiating a peace process, without the U.S. government. On November 18th and 19th, attempting to clean up the mess that the U.S.-led invasion has created in Iraq, an open-ended peace conference on Iraq took place in Cairo under the auspices of the Arab League. The UN, the EU and most of Iraq’s neighbors signed on to try to make it work. The various Iraqi factions attending the Cairo conference showed considerable willingness to compromise to attain consensus on key issues, such as the withdrawal of occupation forces. A key Sunni leader, Saleh Mutyla, hinted the resistance would approve a ceasefire in exchange for U.S. withdrawal. It was the first serious world diplomatic effort to deal with the crisis in Iraq wrought by the Bush administration’s unjust war.

A Gulf Dialogue is taking place this weekend, sponsored by IISS. Joining them for the first time this year are China, India and Germany, according to sources.

On the Military side, we are being left behind by the nations we paid to join our "unilateral coalition." Bulgaria and Ukraine will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops by mid-December. If Australia, Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland and South Korea reduce or recall their personnel, more than half of the non-American forces in Iraq could be gone by next summer. - source link

In his Naval Academy speech, the President would give absolutely no sense of a departure date from Iraq. That, he said, would be decided by "commanders on the ground." The Generals are saying more than the President would have any of us believe, however. Here's how the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh explained the Murtha proposal in a recent interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman:
"He's known for his closeness to the four-stars. They come and they bleed on him... So Murtha's message is a message... from a lot of generals on active duty today. This is what they think, at least a significant percentage of them, I assure you. This is, I'm not over-dramatizing this. It's a shot across the bow. They don't think [the Iraq war is] doable. You can't tell that to this President. He doesn't want to hear it. But you can say it to Murtha."- Tom Englehardt

What I did hear in Bush's Annapolis (that interested me) was that the he is "learning from our experiences in Iraq and adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground." Was that an admission of error? And how much is he learning? A lot of biased pundits point fingers at Senators who gave Bush the authorization to handle this war and all the diplomatic trappings, stating that it's now "politically convenient" to say that their authorization was "a mistake." In all reality, though, it was a horrific mistake to think that President Bush and his administration were prepared to send our troops to Iraq with an appropriate strategy. It was a matter of trust and respect. The Senate and Congress trusted Bush to do the right thing for America and respected the office of the President, as any good-faith American would do. Our good faith was taken advantage of by this administration. This was an ill-planned mission which was initiated with the support and trust of millions of fearful and misled Americans. (The FBI is now taking another look at forged prewar intelligence.) In retrospect, it's very clear that the President chose, quite firmly and obviously, to make this a unilateral war - and that it was the biggest mistake our President ever could have made.

He said in his speech, "This is an enemy without conscience -- and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle." But they're not idle now, in the heat of the guerilla warfare in Iraq today - and their recruiting has swelled. Obviously, we are not winning this battle. It's like battling a cancer with a toxic chemotherapy while the cancer grows more aggressive.

From "Two senior Army analysts who in 2003 accurately foretold the turmoil that would be unleashed by the US invasion of Iraq" and now claim it is "no longer clear that the United States will be able to create (Iraqi) military and police forces that can secure the entire country no matter how long US forces remain."

"...U.S. vital interests have never demanded a democratic state in Iraq before 2003," say the two analysts, W. Andrew Terrill and Conrad C. Crane. The two analysts see one circumstance in which a timetable is useful, if "the Iraqi government may have only a small chance to survive, but the U.S. leadership does not wish to announce publicly that we have basically given up on Iraq."

When all else fails, there's always that delicious red herring used against those sissies who would be accused of a girlie-man technique called "appeasement." No one - and I mean nobody - has suggested appeasement of terrorism as a sole alternative to Middle East stability. That is utterly simplistic - and a false choice as far as alternatives go. Americans, especially those who serve our nation, want truth and honesty about this strategy, not politicizing spin and false choices. It's no wonder the President's poll numbers have slipped so low. Americans understand when something doesn't sound appropriate.

To President Bush:
"Victory in Iraq will demand the continued determination and resolve of the American people." - President George W. Bush
Then give us something we can wrap our hearts around, President Bush. Find a way to get the world on board, or expect complete failure and a further erosion of the public's resolve. If it looks like a winning strategy, we'll know it. In the run up to the war in Iraq, many neoconservative wonks disregarded NATO and poo-pooed other U.S. allies as being unnecessary for transforming or stabilizing the Middle East. Mr. President, you literally threw the good will of our allies away each time you went to the U.N. How cheap our allies' support must have seemed to you back then - and how rare a commodity now. Get the world's attention back, President Bush. How could the leaders of Germany, France, Spain and other European nations convince their publics to support your unilateral course of action? Convince them by demilitarizing and win their support for a joint international approach to the Middle East region that will benefit all of us. It's the only way to go if you want people to take you seriously. No more talk of American Empire.