Friday, November 18, 2005

Morning copy 11.18.2005

The Iraq debate

Scott McClellan, via KRON 4, reacts to the comments of the highly decorated ex- Marine colonel, John Murtha:

Press Secretary Scott McClellan says the eve of fresh Iraqi elections "is not the time to surrender to the terrorists."


CNN reports at least 56 killed in a series of bombings in Iraq. Attacks at a mosque in Khanaqin may result in a toll of 100 or more, according to al Jazeera.

The Wall Street Journal has the new Harris poll:

Bush's current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August.


The Opinion Journal (WSJ) believes congressmen are defeatists:

There are many lessons of the Vietnam War, but two of the biggest are these: Don't fight wars you don't intend to win, and while American troops can't be defeated, American politicians can be.


Bloomberg News on why the Bush camp is striking back with such fervor:

``It's very bad for him,'' because Bush's integrity ``was his strength,'' said Bruce Buchanan, a government professor at the University of Texas in Austin who has followed Bush's career since his days as Texas governor. ``It's kind of like infidelity in a marriage. Once you've crossed that line and lost faith and trust, it's real hard to recover.''


The Chicago Tribune has a recap of the latest rounds (and punches) in the Iraq debate:

Murtha, who won a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, responded by witheringly comparing his own military service to Cheney's lack of wartime experience.

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there," Murtha said. "I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."


CNN just reported that Nancy Pelosi has backed off from supporting (at least right now) John Murtha. What.A.Little.Coward.

Ronald Brownstein in the Los Angeles Times:

The GOP strategist familiar with White House planning said the debate over how forcefully to counter the Democrats has been settled — from the top down.

"If there was [hesitation], the 'let's fight back' side has prevailed, and that is certainly the case with the president," said the strategist. "He's happy to be fighting back."


A less than popular, less than articulate president is going to go on the offensive over a less than popular war. Good luck with that.

John Murtha in the blogosphere

Beware all ye who enter here

A Livejournal user:

I haven't always agreed with your decisions, but I've voted for you in the past three elections. After today, I can assure you I will continue to vote for you, proudly, for as long as you seek office. Today, you made me proud to be a Pennsylvanian, proud to be an American, and proud to have voted for you.


A Certain Slant of Light is well entrenched in darkness:

The Party of Amnesia continues to do its level best to undermine American forces, chase away our allies, and give encouragement to our enemies.


Do any of these sentimentalist fools know what is needed to "win" in Iraq?

No Quarter supports Murtha:

The Bush chickenhawks already are impugning Murtha's patriotism, but when you have a purple heart and a silver star compared to a President with a spotty attendance record with the National Guard and a Vice President with five deferments, that dog don't hunt.


National Debunker calls this a defining moment (sure feels like one):

For this tough, plain-talking Democratic hawk and Marine vet to go off on the administration's war policy to the extent he did yesterday is huge.


Don Singleton headlines his entry: "Rep. John Murtha joins al Qaeda". He quotes from Murtha and then offers cogent, reasoned analysis:

"It is time for a change in direction," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."


All wrong.


My heavens, he is brilliant! Don, who's done more for al Qaeda recruitment according to the CIA: Bush or Murtha?

Political Physics has a long post worth reading:

Great. Now we're fighting the war for appearance' sake, JUST LIKE VIETNAM!


Harold's Blog calls Murtha "Bush/Cheney's Worst Nightmare":

What I like about Murtha is that he appears more than willing to engage in the "knife-twisting" to which I referred in a previous post. He certainly did not shy away from going after Dick "Dick" Cheney for all the crap he has been saying lately:


D Day says no swiftboating will hit Murtha:

I don't think a Swift Boating will carry the day this time. Simply put, to lose Murtha, and to lose Johnstown, on this war is to lose the heartland of America. Johnstown is a very conservative place. The President campaigned there last year, and it was the first Presidential visit in decades (I believe since Truman). This is a patriotic, flag-on-the-front-stoop kind of town.


Ah, now, does the Bush Camp actually realize this about the heartland of America? Or, have they been exploiting this aspect about the heartland? We report, you decide.

The Colossus hasn't done much reading about the nature of the Iraq insurgency, has he?

John Murtha's prescription is that we abandon this new government in the field, and leave the brave people of Iraq to be butchered by al-Zarqawi.


Sgt. Freedom:

He has a Plan - a sensible Plan at that and Bush - Cheney are still going at odds with not only the Likes of John Murtha but also Sen. Chuck Hagel also a Decorated Vietnam Veteran and a Republican.


I agree, Sarge. I think his plan makes sense. The Army can't field 150,000 in 2007 without a draft (kaboom! war effort). It's a fait accompli. I actually think we should draw down in January to about 20-40K QRF troops in theatre. Then, Murtha strikes a brilliant note about Marines just beyond the horizon -- if necessary.

Pulling out right now would mean a civil war. But, the right is too quick to label all Iraqi fighters as terrorists. Zarqawi is a bloodthirsty monster. But, most of the insurgents are nationalists. Many are Sunni/Arab nationalists.


More news

The Washington Times has a Democrat on the Gang of 14 inching away from confirming Alito:

"I have concerns about Judge Alito -- they are strong concerns," Sen. Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat who helped lift his party's filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees, said after meeting with Judge Alito. "I do not yet know whether I will be able to support his confirmation."


The GOP, The House and The Budget, AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans basked in triumph after razor-thin passage of a sweeping budget cut plan in the wee hours of Friday morning .

But intra-party tensions are sure to flare again when negotiations begin next month on a House-Senate compromise measure. Differences over opening an Arctic wilderness to oil drilling promise to be difficult if not impossible to resolve.


The Los Angeles Times on the Patriot Act:

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of half a dozen senators slammed the brakes Thursday on efforts to extend the life of the Patriot Act, charging that a compromise being debated in a conference committee didn't do enough "to protect innocent people from unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance."


Dana Priest in the Washington Post on the CIA:

The CIA has established joint operation centers in more than two dozen countries where U.S. and foreign intelligence officers work side by side to track and capture suspected terrorists and to destroy or penetrate their networks, according to current and former American and foreign intelligence officials.

6 Comments:

Anonymous The Colossus said...

Care to enlighten me?

7:21 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

At least 90 percent of the insurgency is Iraqis. Calling it a "Zarqawi" lead effort is a mistake.

12:50 AM  
Anonymous The Colossus said...

Oh, I don't doubt that the vast majority of footsoldiers in this are Iraqi; Anthony Cordesman suggests that the foreign fighters might number about 3000; his information was using sources in Saudi intelligence. If you postulate an insurgent force of 20-30k fighters, this translates to somewhere between 10-15%. I tend to think it is greater than 10%, but most experts say it is between 4-10%.

I do think Zarqawi is leading the effort and provides significant expertise to the effort. He is a professional terrorist, where the homegrown Iraqi terrorists are more amateur. I'd like to see information indicating he does not play a leadership role, certainly in reading CENTCOM's releases, his network is a major focus for them.

At any rate, let's assume for sake of argument that Zarqawi is a myth; a will o' the wisp created by the Ba'athists in order to distract us. Let's say the effort is entirely home grown and receives no foreign aid, support, logistics, or training. It still doesn't convey any legitimacy on their efforts. A car bomb in front of a restaurant that kills women and children is still a cowardly act of terrorism, and the "insurgents" are attempting to gain power through fear and intimidation. Political legitimacy is only conveyed by the consent of the governed, and to that end the Iraqi people have chosen a constitution. They could have stayed home, or rejected it. They did not. This makes it incumbent upon us to support their efforts. IMO -- In my opinion.

Thanks for the link; would like to see your further thoughts.

5:53 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

OK, so you've done some reading about the insurgency. ;-)

Here's a good Washington Post article about the more nationalistic elements of the insurgency, and also about the role AQ has had with them.

Though I agree with you that Zarqawi is dangerous and a butcher, the present American involvement is a detriment as well as a boon for Iraqis. The Los Angeles Times had a story in early October that reported US analysts believe the political process is encouraging conflict.

Though you say the constitution passed, and it did, it passed with two Sunni provinces voting overwhelmingly against the issue.

It is my belief that we can support the effort in Iraq through better means. I do not think John Murtha has the right plan, but nor does George Bush / Don Rumsfeld.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous The Colossus said...

Fair enough; that is certainly a reasonable position.

And I will grant that the political process puts the Sunni minority between the Scylla and Charybdis; their choice consists of getting voted down by the Kurds and Shi'ites in the legislature, or going with the insurgents and getting killed by the Americans. Not a lot of sunshine and lollipops in that for them, but if it were me, I know what I'd choose.

They will ultimately have to get used to their dilemma, because demographics work against them -- and demographics are destiny. But if they get a shrewd group of politicos together, they might get federalism and some autonomy; the Kurds already set the precedent for this if the Sunnis are smart enough to realize it. And if the Shi'ites govern irresponsibly, they may, in the future, be able to make, with the Kurds, an effective minority party and occasionally even swing a majority of the vote.

Their position isn't a strong one. But consider the history of the Scots -- they made a pretty poor merger with a bigger neighbor work.

6:04 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

I think there is much more similarity in our positions, when properly explained, than would at first appear.

I would note that there seems to be two different and contradictory conceptions of governance between the Sunni-Arabs and other Iraqis.

The former wish to have a more centralized (more Ba'athist) government, while the latter prefers autonomous regions.

I hope we see an emergence of shrewd, peace loving Sunni Arab politicos. The fact that many of that set would have Baathist involvement shows (1.) Paul Bremer really put us behind the Eight Ball and (2.) The Shiite will have to swallow some pride to move forward as well. Compromise is needed on both sides.

The Scots are an interesting analogy. Long term, I am optimistic; but there were some major Brawls on the British Isles over the years.

10:12 AM  

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