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January 15, 2007

Trading American Lives For Votes?

Via Ace, this William Kristol column nails it:

Say you're an average congressman. How do you react to President Bush's Iraq speech? You suspect, deep down, that he's probably doing more or less what he needs to do. We can't just click our heels and get out of Iraq--the consequences would be disastrous. And the current strategy isn't working. You have said so yourself. Last fall you called for replacing Rumsfeld. You've complained that there weren't enough troops. What's more, you've heard good things about General David Petraeus from colleagues with military expertise. So now Bush has fired Rumsfeld, put Petraeus in command, and sent in more troops. Maybe this new approach deserves a chance to work?

But, hey . . . look at
those polls! And those op-ed pages! You didn't come to Washington to support an unpopular president conducting an unpopular war. And the Bush administration is doing a crummy job of explaining this change in strategy. The path ahead in any case is going to be tough, and the new strategy might fail. Besides which, being for "escalation" sure doesn't sound good. Wasn't that a problem in Vietnam?

So you work on your talking points: You understand the president has a tough set of choices. You've got doubts about the path he's chosen. You've got lots of questions. But perhaps we should give it a chance . . .

But wait--that doesn't sound like leadership. That doesn't look decisive. And, if you're a Democrat--you didn't put in all that effort getting elected just so you could get a lot of grief from your own activists. If you're a Republican from a Democratic-leaning state--you didn't put in all those hours getting elected just so you could alienate the swing voters you need. So why not take the next step? Condemn the president's approach! There. That's a position.

...So the Boneless Wonders will push a nonbinding resolution to, as Joe Biden put it, "demonstrate to the president he's on his own." Sure, the resolution will weaken the president's hand abroad--but that's not their problem. It will lessen the chances of success in Iraq--but that's above their pay grade. It will dispirit friends and embolden enemies--but maybe there won't be much attention paid overseas to some non-binding congressional resolution. It will send the message to the soldiers fighting in Iraq that help is not on the way--that there are no reinforcements. That's unfortunate. But, hey--they volunteered.

Kristol underestimates Democratic duplicity. Help will be on the way... unfortunately, it will be tied up by "friends of the military" until it is too late to do any good:

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Emanuel plans to use Bush's Iraq speech to pose what amounts to a vote of "no confidence" in Bush's leadership -- framing the new strategy as a congressional motion and voting it up or down. Emanuel is certain that Bush's strategy will be voted down and that a sizable number of Republicans will join the Democrats in rejecting the military escalation. Rather than try to restrict funds for the troops (which he sees as a political blunder that would delight Republicans), Emanuel instead favors a proposal by Rep. John Murtha to set strict standards for readiness -- which would make it hard to finance the troop surge in Iraq without beefing up the military as a whole. The idea is to position the Democrats as friends of the military, even as they denounce Bush's Iraq policy.

And if Murtha gets his way, he will prevent about half the planned surge from deploying:

Given that violence is likely to escalate at least temporarily as the surge starts, that means Murtha is content to hang a reduced force out to dry without the manpower called for in the original plan.
Appearing on the same program, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said he would not limit funds for the troops already in Iraq, but would try to put language in the bill carrying supplemental funds for the war that could prevent the final two U.S. brigades going over in April and May.

As always, he can count on the media to continue their role as willing accomplices, reporting only half the story:

...the problem that I think here is that there are two kinds of stories about Iraq. There's the accountability story which we're all obsessed with covering. And the president's even added some fuel to the fire by admitting he made a mistake, although not delineating what those mistakes are. But then there is the success stories.

We're not writing those. We're not asking those hard questions. We're only talking about accountability. And again, it's the country that's paying.

Bush is leaving in two years, but we are still going to be in Iraq. We need to figure out a way to make this work.

What a shame that no one - no one in the Republican Congressional leadership, no one in the Democratic leadership, no one in the press, is willing to do what our troops are doing every single day: just put their heads down and get on board with whatever it takes to make this work. No one is even asking them to risk their own lives - just the lives of our military men and women.

Everyone - on both sides - admits it will be a disaster if we fail.

No one has a better idea.

Yet no one wants to do what it takes to succeed. Ace puts it pretty strongly:

The Democrats are now actually trading American lives for votes.

I don't know that I can disagree with him. In a war you either go in with everything you have or you fold and come home. Allowing our military to stay over there while undercutting their mission here at home to 'prove a point' strikes me as beyond reprehensible. Either fight the President all out openly and admit what you're doing and why you're doing it or get behind him and help win this war.


Posted by Cassandra at January 15, 2007 07:47 AM

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The troop surge isn't even a surge. It brings troop levels back to where they already were a year ago. This is just a last ditch effort by Bush to save his political hide. He does not care about the soldiers.

Posted by: PoliticalCritic at January 15, 2007 09:46 AM

Oooh. Yeah, you're right. Astute observation, there.

He's doing it for the immense surge in the polls this crass politically-motivated gesture will earn him.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 15, 2007 09:48 AM

Ace says exactly what I've long thought about the politicians who claim to be "anti-war" or who believe we need to get out of Iraq. If they truly believe in their position, they'd stop at nothing to end the war and keep more people from dying.

But they don't.

Posted by: FbL at January 15, 2007 10:01 AM

Change the ROE and go after the Iranians and Syrians on their borders with Iraq. Stop pussy-footing around and give the democrats their worst nightmare-a U.S. with backbone and a chance to call the bluff of the cowards in the Middle East.

The Ethiopian Army seems to have a pretty good, albeit not politically correct, ROE plan.

Posted by: vet66 at January 15, 2007 12:33 PM

That's why I wrote a letter to my three Congresscritters after the President's speech and the Democratic "response". I decided to post it. If they don't hear from people who would support the President's plan, I fear there is no hope of them doing the responsible thing, only the politically expedient thing...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 15, 2007 12:35 PM

Outstanding Miss Ladybug...

That is exactly what all of us should do. Stay on the aft-end of our congresswidgets in order to give them proper steerage through the uncharted waters of what's best for the nation versus what's best for the congresswidget.

Posted by: bthun at January 15, 2007 02:05 PM

I never considered the troop surge number to be the most central point of this adjustment anyway. The two big news items were, to me at least, that militias were no longer going to have free rein and the adoption of the new "take & hold" policy.

Were the additional troops absolute requirements for those changes to be effective? I don't know, but at this point, I sure hope not!

That said, denying the troops would inarguably cause more of those already there to further bear the load and would almost certainly result in even more extensions in theatre, but at least those most affected by Murtha's obstructionism can console themselves with the knowledge that Murtha cares so very much about them, and that his ever more plaintive cries to throw in the towel have nothing at all with "a last ditch effort to save his (cowardly,) political hide."

Posted by: DaveG at January 15, 2007 02:38 PM

There you go again vet66! *sigh* Advocating removal of the addendums to the ROE and allowing our guys to fight? Geez, what are you thinking man?! ;-)

What is our biggest threat after IEDS and VBIEDs? Snipers. How tenable would those sniper positions be if we removed the gloves and leveled their positions as we did in OIF2? No way would anyone commit political suicide with the spineless sheep we have for a voting populace in this country. Adding those addendums were lauded as "humanitarian" and sung from the rafters. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our enemies took this as weakness and created an insurgency that exports fear, death, inhumanity, and terror while we lose the initiative and the IA become so much expendable waste. So now the muj can kill innocents at will and use any abode to their advantage without fear of reprisal. The general population has to submit to the muj knowing we will do nothing without positive ID for fear of Art 32s and Leavenworth. Standard ROE and sweeping buildings we take fire from are not to be thought of for fear of innocent losses. It's OK to lose a bunch of dumbass ol' Grunts as long as we don't actually make the muj pay. Or those who harbor them, forced or voluntary.

And of course you have all the butt sniffer JAGs sitting 1000s of miles away pressing charges while buckling under political pressure aided and abetted by "leaks", "anonymous sources", and "sedition" by our own media. Not a damn one under fire or being asked to sacrifice for anything but proven ways to lose a war. Go figure!

Bitter? You bet! Increasing numbers won't do a damn thing if you still won't let them fight. Period! Start with Sadr and then raze Anbar. Give Iranian agents a firing squad as spies as authorized by the GC. Destroy anything that moves on the Syrian border. Give the Iraq government the time and support they truly need without their damn permission. End of story.

PolitcalCritic? Bite me you pogue! Show us how it's done. Grab an A4 and kevlar and show us your compassion. What a dwebe. In all your expert commentary did you ever think it's not Bush the troops distrust but the ROE they fight under? Remove your head from the typical Left position of being planted firmly up your butt and help come up with a solution unlike your leadership. Oh sorry, what was I thinking? You actually coming up with a plan and not spending your life's ambition hating a president? How naive of me!

Posted by: JHD at January 15, 2007 03:05 PM

It seems somebody's feeling his oats today.

I knew nothing could keep you down. :p Not that I'm touching *that* one with a ten foot... ummm.

Uhhh...errr... nevermind.

*running away as fast as my little legs will take me*

Posted by: Sum Dum Marine Wife at January 15, 2007 03:10 PM

Yeah, if opinions were dollars I'd be a rich man!

And I wouldn't have touched that one last year myownself! ;-)

Posted by: Jack Bauer at January 15, 2007 03:13 PM


1) Require JAGs who make such judgements required to have a CIB (or have served similar time where they had rounds shot at or at least near them.

2)Make the burden of proof that the JAG must prove that there was NO reason for an action.. not that the Warrior on the scene has to prove that there is.

3)All too often.... votes are not people.. they are votes.. numbers..A sacrfice of say ten to gain a hundred... does make sense .. if your playing poker...

4)I hear the Iranians are pissy that their consulate was invaded and prisoners taken .... ::SNICKER:: ::ROLF::.. ok ok .. We'll send you Jimmy Carter to help you gain their release... bad news is you have to keep him for a year and a half...

This might be a bit much....

5) ROE
Once Its obvious that Allied forces are in the area:
a)If its running.. shoot it.
b)If its hiding behind something.. shoot it.
c)If its lying on the ground with hands laced behind their necks.. keep your eye on em.. from a distance.
d)If it appears dead.. shoot it (twice) and keep your distance.
e)If your SURE its dead.. definately keep your distance.
f) Have Teams of female (MPs? intell??) warriors to check any women and children encountered to make sure they ARE female or a child and not packing.

Have a strong FOB within walking distance of the place.. let them come to you if they want to talk.

Posted by: LarryConley at January 15, 2007 04:44 PM

Oh, good, JHD is back. I can quit trying to substitute for him now. :)

Posted by: Grim at January 15, 2007 04:57 PM

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