Sunday, December 04, 2005

Senator Lieberman's Blind Spot

Senator Lieberman's Blind Spot

I think Senator Joe Lieberman's a good and decent fellow. I honestly can't figure out why he has such a blind spot when it comes to our disastrous strategy in Iraq. I have a lot of respect for Sen. Lieberman, and I can only trust that he is being sincere in his support for what most of us believe is clearly the wrong path for our nation. To be honest, I'm unhappy with all the ideas I've heard on Iraq so far - from Right or Left. However, Senator Lieberman's ideas on Iraq are ones I would support the least.

We began the war badly - and judging from the current status, blindly. We've willingly put ourselves smack dab in the middle of tribe-based civil war and power struggle - and to think those struggles and the violence that comes with the territory will end - or to think that the Iraqi police and military will be capable of dealing with Iraq alone when WE have shown that we can't do ourselves - it is such a preposterous notion that I would laugh if I did not want to cry instead.

This was never - I repeat - NEVER meant to be America's unilateral mission. Superpower or not, we can never accomplish this alone - not if we want to succeed in a moral and meaningful way. As I said, the war was ill-begun, with a blind eye to the reality of the aftermath of the removal of Saddam Hussein.

To see Sen Lieberman calling this a "good strategy" causes me to wonder why. He said in his recent Wall Street Journal editorial that terrorists are intent on stopping Iraq's progress toward a new government "by instigating a civil war that will produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making in the Islamic world."

I think to myself: The chaos was produced in a power-vacuum - when Saddam went down and the U.S. occupied the nation with no decent plan for peace or adequate security. Sen Lieberman now speaks as if chaos will be a future by-product if the terrorists are allowed to succeed. Hello?! Chaos reigns in Iraq today - it has reigned ever since the President gave his speech underneath that "Mission Accomplished" banner. The insurgents are fighting the U.S. occupation and any Iraqi who has been seen as cooperative with the U.S. What makes anyone think, once we leave with whatever we call a "victory", that the civil war and terrorism recruiting will end? I don't care if there's no timetable or twenty - - Iraq is not going to be able to maintain control of the country with sufficient force on their own - and we cannot stay there indefinitely. We're twiddling our thumbs and wasting precious time, treasure, and lives.

Unless we commit ourselves to steady demilitarization (with redeployment based on our nation leading a new international peacekeeping effort) and unless the President immediately facilitates the international peacekeeping effort and a committed international humanitarian force for removing the complicated root causes of terrorism, Iraq will not be the success or stabilizing force we'd hoped for.

The Rumor: Sen. Lieberman as Secretary of Defense? I doubt it seriously. The right-wingers would have a Droopy-effigy burning in no time and the progressives might even supply the matches.


"...if the public doesn't believe [the Bush administration] and the allies don't believe them, how are we going to have an international coalition to be able to have a significant influence on what goes on inside Iraq? So I'd fire somebody. I'd fire two or three people. I'd fire a number of people who are involved in this thing. And then I would go forward with the international community, trying to get support from them in a diplomatic efforts, as our troops move out of there."

- Rep John Murtha in a press conference about Iraq. (*read the whole thing HERE)

OK - so what does Rep Murtha think about about Sen. Lieberman's attitude toward the Bush strategy? Apparently, not much....
Q: Mr. Murtha, what do you say to Senator Lieberman whom yesterday said Democrats need to acknowledge that this president is commander in chief for three more years, that undermining his credibility...

MURTHA: Undermining his credibility? What has he said that would give him credibility?

White House 2008 - The Fix

White House 2008 - The Fix

I commented at The Fix - Chris Cillizza's blog at the WaPo. Chris is handicapping the White House hopefuls for 2008. I came to the party a bit late - I'm comment # 208. ;)

Excerpt from my comment:
After Hurricane Katrina, Sen. Edwards' "Two Americas" message was literally floated home to our collective conscientious doorstep. His words from the 2004 campaign rang true. Sen. Edwards said, after Katrina, that he hoped the tragedy would raise awareness about the working poor and their struggles, and that other people who struggle with poverty don't need a hurricane to disrupt their lives. All it takes is a sick child or broken-down car. We know it's true - so many of us are just one or two paychecks away from an economic breakdown - so why don't we care? Why don't our policies reflect our values? Why do we Americans accept the Grover Norquist school-of-thought - which is to drown social democracy in the bathtub? It's a disgusting concept, when you see the reality behind the intent.

After Hurricane Katrina, some may have called Sen Edwards a 'political opportunist' for reminding America about "Two Americas," but I heartily disagree. It was a reminder of the truth behind his message and it served to show that much of our domestic policy is "all talk and no action" when it comes to finding the solutions and creating real and lasting bridges out of poverty.

Republicans and Democrats have both been remiss in finding effective ways to alleviate poverty through public legislation, but I believe that the Republicans are far more guilty, having been overt in their indifference to the working poor in America for too many years. Current federal policy is emptied of the common values most Americans hold as important and dear.

Listen to John Edwards. He really has something to say in a group of others who all too often rely on the way the political wind happens to be blowing. That happened with the Iraq war, and I believe, after reading Sen. Edwards' recent frank thoughts on his mistaken IWR vote and seeing his work on Poverty, that he is the candidate most likely to win the hearts and minds of Democrats with a clear, morally consistent, and convincing message
If Senator John Kerry has the figurative keys to the Democratic party, as one commenter posted, then I'm afraid the car's going to go into a ditch. "Ouch, Jude -
that's harsh," I can just hear some of you saying.

I supported Sen. Kerry in 2004, and I still think the world of him. He was a VietNam vet who was courageous and supportive of his brother-in-arms by telling the truth in D.C. upon his return from that unjust and failed war. I just don't think his message has ever been clear enough, especially on Iraq. He's had some bad political timing, he's wavered too much in the political winds and it has eroded my belief that he should be a front-runner in 2008, even though I have deep respect, appreciation, and admiration for him.

McCain and International Involvement in Iraq

McCain and International Involvement in Iraq

Senator John McCain said this in his speech at the Republican Convention in 2004, and he wasn't really telling the whole story:

We must, whatever our disagreements, stick together in this great challenge of our time.

My friends in the Democratic Party -- and I'm fortunate to call many of them my friends -- assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's most important obligation. I don't doubt their sincerity. They emphasize that military action alone won't protect us, that this war has many fronts: in courts, financial institutions, in the shadowy world of intelligence, and in diplomacy. They stress that America needs the help of her friends to combat an evil that threatens us all, that our alliances are as important to victory as are our armies.

We agree. And, as we've been a good friend to other countries in moments of shared perils, so we have good reason to expect their solidarity with us in this struggle. That is what the president believes. And thanks to his efforts, we have received valuable assistance from many good friends around the globe, even if we have, at times, been disappointed with the reactions of some. I don't doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours.

Our president will work with all nations willing to help us defeat this scourge that afflicts us all.
Let's face it, Senator McCain was being generous, to say the very least, to President Bush when he said that Bush's efforts produced an effective and commited international cooperation. Looking back, it's closer to humor than reality.

On Meet the Press this morning, Senator McCain was interviewed about the Iraq war - and never mentioned the international community and their place in the future of the Iraq war or the fight against terrorism.

This war will go nowhere while we continue to fight it alone. Senator McCain's ideas have a decided impractical element, as judged by Middle East experts. Where would a President McCain take our nation?
"Well, I guess this is true confessions. I was wrong about Kosovo. I was right about Bosnia. We did the right thing in Kosovo by going in there and stopping ethnic cleansing." - Sen. McCain, Meet the Press, Dec 3, 2005
The NATO involvement in Kosovo was due to a battle that Albanians characterized as a national liberation struggle and Serbs saw as terrorism. This is too close to the voices of Iraqi Kurds in today's Iraq for comfort. The Iraqi Kurds want nothing less than complete independence from Iraq. As our occupation fails to secure an Iraq with a strong central government, the battlefield will surely evolve. A central government in Iraq would have little sway in Iraqi Kurdistan, and will have an unlikely ability to impose its will through force. The Iraqi Kurds are seeking demarcated boundaries, control over revenues, and a self-contained defense force. There are many Iraqi Kurds who are pushing hard for their eventual independence (with the bombshell of the fiercely disputed Kirkuk attached)- and we never hear our political leaders admitting that.

I hope you'd agree that "ethnic cleansing," while sounding sterile, would be quite a bloody, violent, and unacceptable moral consequence of our meddling in Iraq's affairs -whether or not you call yourself a "sentimental person." In northern Iraq, Iraq's political blocs and constitution writers have already agreed, in principle, to some kind of separate federal state for the Iraqi Kurds -and we know they want more - as in KIRKUK. The Shi'a want their own state in the south of Iraq, which would be contrary to what U.S. leaders hoped for when they invaded. Sunni Arabs have opposed a separate Iranian-influenced Shiite state. This has already triggered a civil war with ethnic cleansing. (What else would you call Shi'a militias gunning down Sunni Arabs/Sunnis Arabs blowing up Shi'a mosques? Put them all in your neat little categories if you wish - "Rejectionists," "Regime Loyalists," and "Terrorists" - and together they are still winning the battle of ideas as long as the U.S., unilaterally and with coalition partners dropping out by the day, occupies Iraq.)

Is McCain's statement an unspoken suggestion for changing the course in Iraq to a NATO involvement? NATO administration and reinforcement of the Iraqi Kurdish territory as an (already) autonomous province within Iraq, with a wink and a nod from the U.S. to the support their future fight for independence? Is he talking about multilateral commitment and support for nation-building? Air war/bombing missions vs. ground war? Tens of thousands of NATO troops to maintain order in the autonomous region(s) of Iraq?

At one time, the proclaimed goal of the NATO operation in Kosovo was summed up by its spokesman as "Serbs out, peacekeepers in, refugees back". That is, Serbian troops would have to leave Kosovo and be replaced by international peacekeepers in order to ensure that many displaced Albanian refugees could return to their homes. Today, would the goal-slogan for an newly-expanded autonomous Kurdish territory be "American occupation forces and Shi'a/Sunni out, peacekeepers in?" (on behalf of displaced Kurdish villagers?) Is that where we're headed in this mess? Has our failure to do this thing right going to forever change the face of Iraq? Would enforcing a de facto Kurdish state help to stabilize the Middle East or inflame the already-existing troubles? The Turkish military is increasingly agitated about the Iraqi Kurdish intentions toward the disputed (oil-rich) city of Kirkuk. The Turkish government fears any outcome which benefits the Iraqi Kurds.

What becomes of the rest of Iraq when the Kurds secede?

Do we trust President Bush - or would we trust a President McCain who have already forwarded unrealistic notions about the future of the cause in which our nation is engaged?

Perhaps President Bush should fire Rumsfeld and beg for Wesley Clark to come and take his place.