Tuesday, August 23, 2005

August 22. 2005

Slouching Towards Irrelevance

It just gets worse, doesn't it? On Friday I wrote, "General Dean's Hollow Army" (see below) complaining that party chairman, Howard Dean, gets fragged by his own troops any time he tries to engage the enemy. I have said for months that what the DNC needs most is a brutal, no-holds-barred, no-celebrity-politician-spared, purge -- a colonic – a Fleets enema delivered by tanker trucks.

We know what's gumming up the works -- old hack machine Dems lead by the likes of Hillary, Biden and Lieberman and their triangulating minion led by Shrum, Carville and Begala. The DNC will not have a prayer until the party flushes these valueless connivers from it's system.

As long as they and their kind remain the party will lose – not just elections – but Democrats. What prompted this rant is an email I got this morning from reader Karin Dicker pointing me to the following Washington Post story:

Democrats Split Over Position on Iraq War
Washington --Activists More Vocal As Leaders Decline To Challenge Bush Democrats say a long-standing rift in the party over the Iraq war has grown increasingly raw in recent days, as stay-the-course elected leaders who voted for the war three years ago confront rising impatience from activists and strategists who want to challenge President Bush aggressively to withdraw troops.....Amid rising casualties and falling public support for the war, Democrats of all stripes have grown more vocal this summer in criticizing Bush's handling of the war. A growing chorus of Democrats, however, has said this criticism should be harnessed to a consistent message and alternative policy -- something most Democratic lawmakers have refused to offer. (Full Story)

Karin added that she shot Howard Dean an email too.

"I GIVE UP-I AM OUTTA HERE. I CANNOT TAKE THE PAIN ANYMORE. I JUST CANNOT! Howard - get out of the DNC leadership--and run for President. Perhaps we can have a party called American Progressive party. Our democratic party will never win as long as the backbone is totally gone from our leaders. My God, George Bush is falling deep in the polls and we have no leaders. We have made no gains! Get out of that DLC bastion of bullshit now!"

If there ever was a moment of truth for the Democrats, it's now. I understand that some of the party's biggest big shots – in particular Hillary and Joe-Joe, have a problem – they supported the war and can't quite seem to bring themselves to admit the mistake. In that regard they have more in common with George Bush than the rest of us out here.

And it only gets worse. How ridiculous is this – several top Republicans – led by Senator Chuck Hagel, are now to the left of the top Dems on the war? One would think that that alone would shame Hillary and Joe-Joe into changing their quisling "now that we are in there we have to stay the course," dodge..

Instead it took a simple mother, whose kid got killed in Iraq, to lay the foundation of "get out of Iraq," movement. Cindy Sheehan is hardly a paragon of truth, justice and the American way herself. Like most humans she holds some pretty nutty ideas. The only difference is, as someone who has not made a career being a public figure, she didn't know which of those ideas to just keep to herself.

But Cindy is dead right about the war in Iraq. She's also right that her son died in a war cooked up on a pile of lies by a pack of lying neocons who believe their self-described noble causes always justify the means. On that point Cindy is way ahead of Hillary and Joe-Joe, and has displayed more integrity and courage than the three of them, combined.

So what explains top Dems reluctance to join the "get out of Iraq," movement mushrooming around them? Simple. Geniuses like Bob Schrum remind them that polls show voters don't think Democrats are butch enough when it comes to national defense. And, if they come out in favor or a withdrawal from Iraq, they will only reinforce that view and be tagged as "cut-and-run" sissies by their GOP opponents.

Well, there is a middle ground here, and Dems should claim it before moderate Republicans do. It's true that cutting and running once the shooting starts is just a good way to get shot in the back. It would indeed be a bad idea. And just picking up and leaving Iraq in a mess of our making would hardly burnish our International image. So, what Dems need is an alternative plan to Bush's "stay the course,"(which by the way, is just another way of saying, "let's drag this war out long enough for us to get out of Washington so we can blame failure in Iraq on the next administration.")

Back on July 13 I offered just such a plan. Apparently Hillary and Joe-Joe were on vacation and missed it. So I am repeating it below. This is a real alternative and if the Dems embrace it, fight for it and explained it to voters, it would resonate with war-weary voters and at the same time inoculate them from GOP attempts to sissify them.

A Realistic Withdrawal Plan For Iraq

This is how to salvage Bush’s failed Iraq policy, as my old Marine Corps drill instructor used to say, “by the numbers.”

1) Alert Iraqi authorities they have until January 2006 to get their own troops ready to take over all operations inside Iraq’s borders.

2) Begin now preparing temporary bases, at roughly 100-mile intervals, along Iraq’s borders with Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia. (The math: 2000-mile plus border would require roughly 25 bases. If we used just half the 160,000 US troops in such an operation that would be 40 soldiers to patrol each mile of the border. )

3) Come this January US and other coalition forces are moved to these border bases where their mission – their only mission -- would be to seal their 100-mile section of border.

4) Each border base would be equipped with state of the art drones, helicopters, sensors and whatever other gear is needed to seal their section of border -- but no Iraqi troops. The reason for that should be clear. The Iraq military has been heavily infiltrated by insurgents and sympathizers. The last thing we need is them pointing out the weak spots in our sealed borders strategy. Border bases would have to be manned, supplied and run entirely by coalition forces. (And of course Halliburton would make another bundle on this. There's no escaping Halliburton.)

5) The only US troops that would remain in Iraq’s interior after January would be a handful of U.S. military advisors serving with the Iraqi military and Special Forces teams collecting intelligence, training and occasional joint surgical operations.

6) The US would agree to continue providing close air support when requested by Iraqi troops -- but only with the clear understanding that, if civilians are injured or killed in an Iraqi-ordered air strike, Iraqi commanders will take the rap – the whole rap, immediately and publicly. Otherwise our planes will be no-shows the next time they dial 911.

This plan would break the current deadlock. The insurgency, supported from the outside and from within, is eternally sustainable. This plan would shuffle the deck in various ways to disrupt that continuum:

1) It would cut the supply of fresh jihadist recruits streaming into Iraq from Syria and Iran.

2) It would force Iraqi troops to stop relying on US military backup when the going gets tough.

3) Then, if Iraq forces rise to the occasion, they could kill off those insurgents trapped inside Iraq's sealed borders or convince the rest to put down their arms and join the political process.

4) It would greatly reduce US casualties beginning immediately on January 2. (I would bet it would reduce US casualties by up to 90%, simply because they would no longer be in urban settings where car and roadside bombs have proven so lethal.)

5) Most importantly it would mark the beginning of the end of US occupation. No longer would ordinary Iraqis see westerners frisking Iraqis or invading the privacy of their homes and mosques. They would like that. But the message to the Iraqi people would also be as clear and unambiguous as it could be: we are leaving, and sooner rather than later. So, you guys better get your own act together.

Even if this plan were not entirely successful, how much worse could it be than what we have now? If nothing else it would serve cut the class size of what has become the Islamic terrorist world's equivalent of West Point. Our border-based troops would either kill or capture such terrorists-in-training before they even get to their first class. And, as the chances of making it into Iraq alive dim the number of those trying would dwindle.

Finally, sealing the borders with Iran and Syria would also disrupt a myriad un-wholesome and unhelpful cross-border activities by those two antagonistic, un-wholesome and unhelpful players.

That's the plan Democrats should embrace. Of course, this plan could fail too. But if it does at least then our troops would be deployed just a few feet away from the exits. Besides if in the end a finite number of insurgents trapped within a sealed Iraq defeat US-trained and lavishly supplied Iraqi government forces, then they probably don’t deserve their own country anyway.

The Bush administration would complain that January is too soon, that Iraqi troops will not be ready to fight on their own yet. Maybe they can sell that bogus bull to some folks, but not me. I arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on July 14, 1965 a 128 pound pussy fresh from suburbia. I left twelve weeks later for two more months of infantry training at Camp Pendleton.

By December 1965 I was trained and ready. (Maybe not entirely willing, but definitely ready.)

So, either the Iraqis are not fighting material, or they are dragging their feet, or they are not just not willing to die for George Bush's vision for their country. Whatever it is if they can't be trained to fight in six months another six months or year of training ain't gonna do it either. (After all, military training is not exactly rocket science. We are talking a course of study dominated by subjects such as do what you're told, run, point, shoot, fall, crawl, blow things up.)

Critics claim a withdrawal before total victory would turn Iraq into a new base of operations for al Qaida. Well here's a news flash George, it already is. Our invasion of Iraq turned the country into a live-fire terrorist military academy – al Qaida's own West Point -- with live US targets.

In fact whether Iraq becomes a democracy, theocracy or Saddamist dictatorship after we leave is entirely out of our hands, no matter what we do. As we are seeing this month as Iraqis try to write a constitution, these folks have other issues, and lots of them.

The most likely outcome is the Yugoslavia-ization of Iraq. The Kurds would go their own whey (sorry, couldn't resist) and lay claim to the northern part of the country they already govern. There would be a fight for Kurkuk and the oil fields around it, but if the Shiites could not defeat minority Sunni insurgents they wouldn’t have a prayer against the Kurds.

After that bloody process plays itself out what we now call the “Sunni Triangle” would become Sunniland with Baghdad as its capital. (Since there's no oil in Sunniland it would become an impoverished ward of Syria, which was recently kicked out of Lebanon and will be delighted to lend a hand.)

The southern part of Iraq would become oil-rich Shiiteland and a defacto province of Iran.

Anyway, that outcome is what the Iraqis would have to understand is "Plan B," if they don't get their act together, and fast. And the sooner Iraqis are confronted with such a prospect the better.

So, Dems, there's your alternative to "stay the course." Move our troops to the Iraqi borders and keep them there until it becomes clear that the Iraqis are either going to defeat the insurgents or lose to them.

In either case, we’re outta there.

(Or, let the Hillary, Joe-Joe wing of the party continue vacillating and triangulating and more and more Democrats will join Karin in sayiing, "we're outta here.")

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