Iraqi Civil War and Destabilization of the Middle East

November 16, 2006 at 2:39 pm | Posted in American politics, Iran, Iraq, King George, Military, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Washington Post has a great article highlighting the situation right now in the Middle East and Iraq. Because America failed to create a stable government and country, because we failed to stop the sectarian violence (which was predicted to happen— for example, in 1999 the Pentagon war gamed the scenario and discovered that one of the major problems was going to be sectarian violence), Iraq is in a civil war. Sunnis are bombing Shi’ite mosques and workers, while Shi’ites retaliate with ethnic cleansing techniques. This cannot be what America wanted to see in Iraq.

The worst part is that this imperils the region. Turkey does not want to see a separate and independent Kurdistan, because that would mean destabilization and unrest within its own borders on the east. Sunnis in Saudi Arabia certainly won’t want to see Shi’ites in Iraq collude with Iranians and get control of more oil fields. Iranians are getting payback for Sunnis and their war with Iran back in the 80s. However, they too do not want to see a destabilized and civil war torn Iraq. If they push into Iraq to gain control, however, Israel would not like that. Nor would Saudi Arabia. Syria isn’t too concerned. Shi’ites are to the south, and not close to Syria.

If the United States leaves, this area will get even worse, with the warring spreading out to other countries. If the United States stays in, the insurgents will continue killing Americans, the violence will not end, and the situation will still get worse. If the United States adds some troops (50,000 is the number thrown around), that won’t be enough for what really needs to be done. It will be a larger band-aid on a corpse, but not the magic potion to ressurect the corpse. The current situation is really the worst situation America could have imagined in Iraq.

To solve this, America is going to need to flood the country with troops. When I mean flood, I mean bring the total up to 500,000 troops. i.e. America needs to take control of Iraq and make it a colony. How else does anyone expect for the militias to disband? How else do you expect to plug all the holes and bring light to all shadows? Make it so there is no hiding space for insurgents. Make it so that insurgents have a choice: either join the political process or die. Surround them completely. At this point, the fight is even between America and the insurgents, because insurgents have places to hide from the mighty American army. If they have no place to hide, they have no choice but join or die.

This plan will never be accepted though because of many reasons. 1. No one has the political will to ask this. 2. Who will pay for all those troops? 3. Where do you get such a large influx of troops when troop level is so low? 4. You’re basically telling Iraqis right now that their vote last year for the current government was a failure. Can they even trust you to do it right again?

But as has been talked about, there are no good options left for America in Iraq. We really screwed it up.

We could go to Iran and Syria and ask them for help (which we should have done two years ago), but doing so means that we give them something they want. Syria wants the Golan Heights. Iran wants their nuclear program. Are we willing to sacrifice those for aide in Iraq?

There really are no good options left. How the mighty have fallen!

Quote of the Day

November 15, 2006 at 2:26 pm | Posted in American politics, Democracy, Democrats, Republicans | Leave a comment

“I’m a moderate, and there is no room left in the Republican Party for moderates. I’m not leaving the Republican Party; it has basically left me.”

–By Sam Kitzenberg, Republican State Senator of Montana on why he switched to the Democratic party.

A Year Or Two Too Late

November 14, 2006 at 11:43 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, King George, War on Terror | 2 Comments

Michael Hirsh has probably one of the best analysis written about how America’s policy in Iraq failed. He states:

Bush and Tony Blair are now arguing about whether to talk to Iran and Syria? Two or three years ago it might have made a difference, before the Sunni insurgency that was supplied and supported from outside the country spiraled into sectarian warfare. Back then, had you engaged Syria fully, you might have stopped the cross-border depots and training centers that kept a flow of jihadis and weapons to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, one of the chief authors of the sectarian hatred, and the other original insurgent leaders. Back then, had you dealt with Iran as it must be—as a major regional power—you might have been able to curb the Shiite militias and their death squads, which were just getting started. But now? The sectarian killing has its own dynamic. What’s happening is an internal Iraqi affair, and Iran and Syria have become, for the most part, bystanders.

It is the story of this administration, of course: the inability to adjust prefixed ideas to reality, embodied in an incurious president who is unable to get on top of a problem because he doesn’t follow up on details. Four years ago U.S. officials disbanded the Iraqi army, then sat stunned in their Green Zone bubble while the looting raged and the incipient insurgents began to poke their heads out of the rubble. Slowly the Bush administration began to rebuild the army. Too late, it came to realize it needed Iraqi police as well. Indeed, as army training faltered, U.S. officials labeled 2006 “the year of the police.” But again, it was a year or two too late. And now that the police have become tools of the empowered sectarian militias, the Bush team is talking about relying on the Iraqi army again.

Why did Bush not consider talking with Iran and Syria back in 2003, or even 2004 or 2005? What was it worried about? Looking weak politically at home? Is this really a true statesman? Is this the mark of the kind of leader of the most powerful nation on the planet, one that does not wish to talk to nations he may not like? How childish! How criminally inept! Ideas that once were called traitorous by Republicans are now being talked about by the Baker/Hamilton commission. Redeploy and withdraw troops. Talk with Iran and Syria. These are ideas Democrats mentioned a year or two ago. Now, a year or two too late, Bush is talking about them.

How much longer do we need to go on before enough Americans see that we lost Iraq. Completely. There is nothing to redeem the country now. Senator McCain talks about adding more troops. So does Mr. Djerejian, but they really don’t seem to realize that we’re at a point now where Iraq is truly a failed state. What power or even influence does the Prime Minister have outside the Green Zone? Just today, in the most brazen attack in a while, gunmen kidnapped 150 Iraqi academics! This will inexorably lead to a further brain drain on the country, moving Iraq down the road Cambodia went down under Pol Pot. This should tell you how bad Iraq is when you can start comparing it to Cambodia of the mid to late 70s.

So I predict that a year or two down the road Bush will finally realize that he has to pull the troops out of Iraq. Who knows though, maybe by then enough Americans will appreciate how awful the situation is and have demanded for his impeachment by then. One can only hope.

Quote of the Day

November 13, 2006 at 9:01 pm | Posted in American politics, King George | Leave a comment

“One freedom that defines our way of life is the freedom to choose our leaders at the ballot box. We saw that freedom earlier this week, when millions of Americans went to the polls to cast their votes for a new Congress. Whatever your opinion of the outcome, all Americans can take pride in the example our democracy sets for the world by holding elections even in a time of war.”

President George W. Bush

As Carpet Bagger Report notes, the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” He adds:

We should be “proud” that the federal government didn’t cancel our elections? That the Bush administration didn’t use the war as an excuse to interrupt the democratic process?

Setting the bar a little low, aren’t we?

How the Democrats Won the House of Representatives

November 13, 2006 at 4:00 pm | Posted in American politics, Democracy, Democrats, Republicans | Leave a comment

Chicago Tribune has an excellent piece on how the Democrats won the House. It all adds up to Mr. Emanuel Rahm, the DCCC chair, who wanted to win, and acted on it. Compared to previous elections, Democrats showed they wanted to win this year. They were on the offensive with every opportunity presented them.

“Emanuel’s strategy was to keep the opposition uncomfortable. If a Republican congressman took a vote that he hoped no one in his district would notice, such as supporting a Bush budget cut, Emanuel immediately issued a press release and sent it to the Republican’s hometown newspaper. He then sent it to the lawmaker’s office to, as he said, ‘[mess] with their heads.’ He had the DCCC designate one Republican as the ‘rubber stamp of the week’ and another as the ‘crony of the week,’ a gimmick that generated a surprising amount of local coverage . . .

That’s how to win. Democrats have a chance now to take more Senate seats in 2008. Republicans have a greater number of seats up for reelection than Democrats. Democrats must also keep the House, so after the 2010 Census, the gerrymandering Republicans did in 2000 and 2002 can be rectified, and more representative of the population. Democrats must stay centrist these next two years. They must shed the extremists from their midst. Learn from Republicans’s mistakes over the past six years. They played to their base and ignored and dismissed the moderates. Do so at your own peril, Democrats. Avoid pitfalls by staying in the middle.

Failing Afghanistan

November 13, 2006 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, America, American politics, Iran, Iraq, War on Terror | Leave a comment

A new report released paints a very grim picture of Afghanistan. Insurgents there are hitting back on average of 600 times per month. (For comparison, in Iraq, insurgent attacks on U.S. soldiers, according to Bob Woodward’s book averages 900 attacks per month). Afghan insurgents have learned from Iraq how to destabilize the country, and take it away from pro-Western rule. Such a shame.

How do we fix this?

We got into this mess without a real sense of the cost. Now, not only have we put these two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) on credit cards, to get out with a “victory,” will require an even greater financial sacrifice. Are Americans ready for something like this? Do they realize just how expensive a victory will truly be?

What is even sadder is that many Americans actually want to start yet another war, with Iran. What the hell is wrong with America?!?!?!

Republicans Pushed Moderates Away

November 10, 2006 at 2:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Bill Clinton, Christianity, Congress, Democracy, Democrats, Republicans | 9 Comments

The biggest thing, I think, to take away from this November’s election is this: Republicans pushed moderates away from their party. The irony of the Republican strategy is that they played to their base in their attempt to win the independent, moderate vote. What did Democrats do? They moved to the center and recruited former Republicans (such as Jim Webb in Virginia—he was the Navy Secretary under Ronald Reagan, who truly espoused the principle of moderate strong Republican. Can Bush claim any Bush Democrats like Reagan could claim Reagan Democrats?). This move to the center (similar to Clinton’s success of moving to the center), brought the Democrats victory. Now you’ve got another Republican considering leaving the Republican party. Lincoln Chafee is pondering leaving Republicans.

Chafee said he waged a lonely campaign to bring the party to the middle. He described attending weekly lunches with fellow GOP senators and standing up to argue his point of view, often alone.

Will Republicans learn from this and stop playing to the base? Will they stop tying religion into their political party? We shall see.

An Example For The Need For New Foreign Policy

November 9, 2006 at 9:39 pm | Posted in Democracy, King George, World Events | Leave a comment

At the same time that America voted for the Democrats, Nicaragua held their election and much to the chagrin of the Bush Administration, Daniel Ortega won the election. For those who remember the 80s very clearly, Ortega was not spoken of very highly in the Reagan Administration, to put it mildly. In any case, he won. Time Magazine has probably the best, most succinct analysis of why Ortega won.

In Nicaragua, cold-war bogeyman Daniel Ortega — whose Marxist Sandinista government had been an obsession of the Reagan Administration — was elected president again on Sunday despite frantic U.S. lobbying for his defeat. By most accounts, the yanqui politicking — which included a threat to cut off U.S. aid to impoverished Nicaragua if Ortega won — backfired miserably, actually helping boost the Sandinista leader to his first-round victory. That such U.S. pressure tends to work in favor of its opponents is a lesson Washington seems woefully unable to learn in a post-Cold War Latin America whose electorates have unexpectedly turned leftward in recent years.

I don’t think a stronger rebuke could have been written over America’s foreign policy debacles in Latin America, or the rest of the world at large.

Old Bush Vs. New Bush: Who Is Telling the Truth and Who Is Lying?

November 9, 2006 at 6:36 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, King George | Leave a comment

Washington Post has just a couple of examples of the stark difference in rhetoric pre-election vs post-election from Mr. Bush. The big question here is, who is telling the truth?

“If you listen closely to some of the leaders of the Democrat Party, it sounds like — it sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is, wait until we’re attacked again.”

— Oct. 2

“[H]owever they put it, their approach comes down to this: The terrorists win, and America loses.”

— Oct. 30

“I truly believe that Congresswoman Pelosi and Harry Reid care just about as much — they care about the security of this country, like I do. . . . I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken, and now it’s time for us to move on.”

— Nov. 8

see, this is important, because as is evidenced, many people actually believed what Mr. Bush said before the election. So was he lying?

Quote of the Day

November 9, 2006 at 6:23 pm | Posted in American politics, Democracy, freedom, Iraq, King George | Leave a comment

“I have asked him to fight two fronts in the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as transform our military. . . . I’m pleased with the progress we’re making. . . . I do” see him staying until the end of the president’s term.”

—George W. Bush, before the election

“Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they’re going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn’t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.”

—George W. Bush, after the election, on how much he thinks voters should have a say in the war. Reminds me of another Republican who said:

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

—Henry Kissinger

Bush: Open to “Any Idea” on Iraq

November 9, 2006 at 4:54 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, King George, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Really, is that the case, Mr. President? You say today:

On Iraq, he said, “I’m open to any idea or suggestion that will help us achieve our goals of defeating the terrorists and ensuring that Iraq’s democratic government succeeds.”

Are you sure of that, Mr. President? You certainly weren’t “open to any ideas” before the election. What made you change? Can we call you a liar now?

Donald Rumsfeld Quote of the Day

November 8, 2006 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Iraq, Rumsfeld | 1 Comment

“We know where they [Iraq’s WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.”

Interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC This Week, March 30, 2003

Rumsfeld Stepping Down

November 8, 2006 at 5:58 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, King George, Rumsfeld | 5 Comments

Awww, Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down as Defense Secretary, even though Bush said just before the election that he would keep him on for full term. I guess Mr. Rumsfeld didn’t really want to be held accountable to Congress the way Congress is supposed to hold him accountable. So long, Mr. Secretary. And don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

More Evidence of GOP Suppression and Deception Tactics

November 7, 2006 at 9:23 pm | Posted in American politics, Democracy, Republicans, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

Wow, you just have to read this report of homeless people being paid to hand out false pamphlets clearly intended to lie to Democratic voters who to vote for. Read what Jesse Singal had to say:
Continue Reading More Evidence of GOP Suppression and Deception Tactics…

George Allen: Threatening Virginia Democratic Voters With Arrest!

November 7, 2006 at 7:00 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Democracy, Democrats, Republicans, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

Dude!

Mainstream media has picked up on this, as has Think Progress. As MSNBC’s article states:

News4 reported: “The viewer’s e-mail stated after he had voted, he received a call from an unknown caller who said they knew the voter was registered out of state and would be arrested if they voted today. The viewer’s e-mail stated he’s been registered to vote in Virginia for the last three years and has the Virginia Voter Registration card to prove it.”

The phone message was definitely deceptive and false, as this voter was registered legally in Virginia and not New York.

Meanwhile…

Over in Missouri, a voting machine records a vote for McCaskill as a vote for Talent.

Reader PW writes:

My wife just came home from voting here in Webster Groves MO. She used the electronic touch-screen voting system. . . She touched Claire McCaskill’s picture and the machine recorded a vote for Jim Talent. She then called one of the people running the polling center who helped her correct the problem. My wife then had to call the person over another time after it recorded her vote a Republican again. In her frustration she asked the person who was responsible for the design of this system. The polling person leaned in very close to my wife and whispered, “We’re f—-d.”

To Connecticut….

The Connecticut Republican Congressional Committee apparently has said that it will stop the robo-calls if the voters vote Republican.

From TPM Reader JN:

just got a call in CT from a Mr. Gallo of the, i think, CT State Central Republican Committee. It was something like that. It was from the republican state senate scommitte i think. I think gallo said he was some kind of leader. The poll identified itself pretty quickly as being from a republican group, and then it went on to promise that if you vote republicans then they would stop the robocalls.

Is this really the America we’ve known and loved for so long? Are these the tactics employed by righteous, principled people?

Voting Problems Accross the Nation

November 7, 2006 at 3:10 pm | Posted in American politics, Democracy | 2 Comments

Josh Marshall at the Talking Points Memo has asked his readers to inform him of any problems with voting. Already we get the following:

TPM Reader AM checks in from Ohio:

Reporting from Summit County, where we use optical scan machines: my husband and I were in line at 6:30 a.m. when the polls opened so we were the 14th & 15th people in our precinct (8-C) to vote. Unfortunately, the optical scanner wouldn’t accept any ballots. I hung around until 7:30 a.m. to see if they got it working and when I left it was still down. Of course, it took all 4 of the octogenarians staffing the precinct table to try to “fix” the problem so the line was backed up out the door & into the parking lot, where voters were treated to a light morning drizzle.

Sure hope my vote gets counted. And I hope not too many people had to bail out of the line in order to make it to their jobs on time.

and

Looks like Ohio is going to be interesting today. From TPM Reader JH:

Similar problems in Hamilton County to those reported in Summit County. Even though my partner changed his registration to our new address and even though he voted in the same precinct last election with no problem, because his driver’s license had our old address, the pollworkers forced him to vote a provisional ballot. This precinct is smack dab in the middle of the congressional district where . . . Jean Schmidt should lose to Victoria Wulsin, but turnout will matter. The lines were long, with people standing in the rain, and the pollworkers seemed ill equipped to handle the process. Could be a long day in Ohio again.

and

From TPM Reader EL in Florida:

Just in case you’re keeping tabs, I wanted to tell you that my wife tried to vote in our precinct in Tampa and was not on the list. After several tries to find out why, she was told that the voter database was “cleaned” and there must have been a mistake. I’m trying to find out who “cleaned” it.

We are keeping tabs.

and

And from Sullivan County, Tennessee, where TPM Reader SJ tried to vote:

Went to my precinct to vote and all 3 machines were not working. This precinct has a lot of lower-income families and public housing. They finally got one of the machines going, but the lines were out the door – I waited close to an hour and had to get to work. I wasn’t the only one – most of those leaving were young(er) working people more likely to vote Democratic. I’ll be coming back later to vote, but how many of those that left will be able to do that? You would think the machines would have at least been tested and working before the actual election day.

and

From Chicagoland, TPM Reader MS reports:

I live in Arlington Heights, IL, outside of Chicago. I’m in Mark Kirk’s House District. This morning none of the electronic voting machines were working. Therefore the wait to vote was around 30 minutes, since they were using paper ballots.

As an aside, on the table next to the election judges was a box of donuts from the Republican Party of Wheeling Township, thanking the election judges for their service. Democray (and bribery) in action!

If we’re down to donuts, then Chicago ain’t what it used to be.

All this, and it is just 10:00am. Seriously, why are these machines having problems on election day? Did the companies not test them before the election? Something is seriously wrong here if these machines aren’t working on election day. How many days previous to this have these companies had to test them?

Bush: the only way we can win is if we leave before the job is…

November 6, 2006 at 8:25 pm | Posted in American politics, Democracy, Iraq, King George | Leave a comment

Oops!

Republicans Use Deceptive Practices

November 6, 2006 at 7:06 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Congress, Democracy, Democrats, King George, Republicans | Leave a comment

Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, details numerous examples of the Republican National Congressional Committee using deceptive practices and techniques in the days leading up to tomorrow’s election. Back in 2004, the RNCC was charged with phone jamming in New Hampshire. Now in New Mexico, they are calling Democratic voters and telling them falsely where to vote. The RNCC is also using robo-calls in at least 20 districts, used to smear and distort Democratic candidates. Worse, the robocalls start by saying:

In each case, the calls begin with “Hi, I’m calling with information about [insert local Democratic candidate here],” and then continues to provide negative information about the candidate. Counter to FCC rules, which require that the caller identify themselves early on in the call, the calls only reveal that they are paid for by the NRCC at the end of the call.

As Josh Marshall says, the RNCC hopes these tactics fly low enough under the radar that no one picks them up until after the election, when they will basically weather the FCC fines for violating FCC rules. They can, after all, afford to pay some measly fines, especially if the result of these calls is lower Democratic voter turnout. As this piece explains:

Rozanne Ronen, a Barrington resident, got the call — “Hi. I’m calling with information about Melissa Bean …”

Then she got the call again and again and 18 more times, making for a total of about 21 calls since October 24.

“They are very annoying,” Ronen said.

Pat Vockeroth, of Mount Prospect, received the calls too — “Hi. I’m calling with information about Tammy Duckworth …”

“If you only listen to the first sentence, you think they are from the Duckworth campaign,” she said.

But the calls aren’t paid for by Bean, Duckworth or even the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, they are paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Brian Herman, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, D-8th, said the calls are a campaign trick meant to kill the Democrat vote on Nov. 7.

“Voters ought to make their decision based on merit and facts, but this about suppressing the vote,” he said.

After the introduction, the calls touch on one of several topics, such as immigration or the fact that Bean or Duckworth lives outside the 8th and 6th districts.

Herman said the Bean campaign doesn’t use these kinds of tactics.

“We don’t use technology to harass voters,” he said.

Funny how the local candidates wash their hands of this tactic. The RNCC could learn a thing or two about morality from them.

Here’s the question to my Republican readers. If your principles are right, if your ideology can withstand good old-fashioned criticism, if your strategies and goals for the future of our country are righteous and good, why would you need these tactics to supress the vote of your political opponent? Why the deception? Could all this show that your party is more interested in maintaing power than in doing what is right? Is not this another example of how the Republican party has lost its way?

Quote of the Day

November 6, 2006 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Christianity, Evangelicals, Religion | 1 Comment

“Major leaders have lost their positions of influence because of what they did alone in a room. Please don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that you can do something in secret, even when you are far away from home. This is a lie, and it will always come back to haunt you.”

Ted Haggard

What 1999 Iraq War Simulation Showed…

November 5, 2006 at 12:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, Democrats, Iraq, King George, Military, Republicans, War on Terror | 1 Comment

In 1999 the Pentagon had done a secret war simulation on what would happen if the United States invaded and took over Iraq. The simulation showed that at minimum 400,000 troops would be needed, and even with that many, the country might still slip into chaos. Rumsfeld and Bush did not even listen to his own advisers—no he probably told them to shut up actually—when they were telling him he needed more troops. Here’s the quandry Bush faced in 2002, though. How could he get more troops? His actions and rhetoric in 2002 about Iraq were not getting the full support needed—but then again, we know he was using Iraq as a political tool for both the 2002 election and the upcoming 2004 presidential election. He wanted to be perceived as a war president who could fight enemies abroad. He really didn’t care if he didn’t have enough troops. So what else did the war games simulation show?

Continue Reading What 1999 Iraq War Simulation Showed……

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