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It’s the Iraqis, Stupid.

TPMtv gives us the layout of John McCain’s devolving concept of American troop levels in Iraq, from liberating and leaving to maybe staying as a small force to staying ala Germany for a hundred years. It should be noted, by the way, that we have not been in Germany for a hundred years just yet – to say nothing of a thousand, or ten thousand – so whether or not that is an attainable goal remains to be seen:

Talking Points Memo

In today’s episode of TPMtv, we go back to the TPM video archives to put the whole back and forth on the Korea m
odel together. Let’s go to the tape …

But in every case, John McCain consistently makes the point that, “it’s not troop levels, it’s casualties.” Because if American soldiers aren’t dying, the American people won’t mind their presence anywhere. This shortsightedly political rhetoric ignores a very basic premise of occupation: it will not be the opinions of the American public that will determine that all-important casualty rate, but the opinions of the Iraqis, whose voice is noticeably absent from McCain’s argument.

And if Iraqis do not want long-term American presence in their country – as indeed, they have voiced many times over – then no amount of political gamesmanship here at home nor tactical maneuvering in Iraq will produce anything less than consistent casualties.

But, hey! I’m not a presidential candidate with “experience,” so what the hell do I know?

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Covering His Ears and Stamping His Feet

As the situation in Iraq degrades towards civil war, The Decider continues to declare progress being made. There is not a whit of recognition, nor will there be for months, that the situation is getting close to out of control. As TPM reports, Baghdad police are leaving in droves and Iraqi soldiers (who, according to the Bush Administration, are fighting in Basra) are back-filling those positions. Meanwhile, our troops are once again filling in the front lines of the Iraqi Civil War:

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 03/27/2008 | Bush: Iraq is returning to normal

President Bush, saying that “normalcy is returning back to Iraq,” argued Thursday that last year’s U.S. troop “surge” has improved Iraq’s security to the point where political and economic progress are blossoming as well.

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Shock the Conscience

Do not click on this link unless you’re sure you’re ready.  This was done at Abu Ghraib in your name.  Let us not pretend that this was either an isolated incident or the act of a few bad apples.

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Hillary Clinton on the Last Resort

Crooks and Liars does a good job of contrasting Hillary Clinton’s speech on the floor of the Senate in 2002, voting in favour of the Iraq resolution and what she’s saying now about that vote which she has never recanted and never will:

Crooks and Liars » Hillary Clinton Defends her 2002 Iraq War Vote — through Attack

Senator Clinton briefly outlined why she voted as she did, that her vote was not one for preemptive war but for further UN weapons inspections, and that she had President Bush’s personal assurances that all avenues would be taken to prevent war, war as an option only of last resort.

Specifically, she said,”mine was not a vote for war . . ” As though you get to vote for different things than everybody else does. Everybody voted on the same resolution.

Well, OK, anyone who reads this website knows I’m not a big supporter of Hillary. But for chrissakes, this really needs to be said: if you say you didn’t know we were going to war, you’re either a fool or a liar.

Because we all knew, didn’t we? There was never a doubt in my mind that George Bush and Dick Cheney had every intention of going to war, and neither was there any such misapprehension in any of my non-politician, non-Washington friends, Right or Left. Even the least-interested person I knew was aware of what was happening and that we were going to war.

And after that, she and Barack Obama’s voting records remained roughly the same on the war: both voted to fund the war time and time again. She insists that if he was as sure of his convictions against the war, he shouldn’t have funded it. I say that if she was as sure that she only wanted war as a last result – and if indeed she was surprised by the result of her vote – she was under equal obligation to do the same.

But she didn’t. And now she questions Obama’s judgment.

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Bush’s Fantasy League Diplomacy

H/T to Crooks and Liars for this Newsweek link. It seems that Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Patraeus are in the midst of negotiations with the Iraqi “government” to secure a “long-term strategic partnership” in Iraq. That would mean permanent bases for U.S. troops in Iraq and a long term deal similar to those we have with dozens of other nations across the globe. The signing of the deal seems to be designed to happen right about the time of the Democratic and Republican Conventions for the sake of – what else? – politics here at home rather than solving our actual problems abroad:

Bush Shakes Up ’08 Iraq Debate | Newsweek Voices – Michael Hirsh | Newsweek.com

In remarks to the traveling press, delivered from the Third Army operation command center here, Bush said that negotiations were about to begin on a long-term strategic partnership with the Iraqi government modeled on the accords the United States has with Kuwait and many other countries. Crocker, who flew in from Baghdad with Petraeus to meet with the president, elaborated: “We’re putting our team together now, making preparations in Washington,” he told reporters. “The Iraqis are doing the same. And in the few weeks ahead, we would expect to get together to start this negotiating process.” The target date for concluding the agreement is July, says Gen. Doug Lute, Bush’s Iraq coordinator in the White House—in other words, just in time for the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

But of course, “long-term” is a subjective phrase that depends a great deal on both party’s ability to stick to the agreement. Considering that none of the stated benchmarks of “Teh Surge” are in place, there is no Iraqi Constitution, there is no oil sharing agreement and much of the country considers the current nominal “government” illegitimate, that ability seems very much in doubt. Frankly, I wouldn’t buy green bananas from the Iraqi government.

But this isn’t about doing anything that’s actually going to solve any problems. I think they’ve long-since abandoned any hope of doing such lofty things in the White House. Rather, this is about giving Republicans enough breathing room to eke out a victory at home, assuming such a thing is possible now. It is all Kabuki theatre, smoke and mirrors for the public’s “benefit,” just for the sake of politics.

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My Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions

Of course, how trite of me to have a New Year’s Resolutions list, eh? But then, the start of a new year, like any mathematically or biologically significant milestone in the wheel of life, is a good time to reflect on what has been and what you hope should be. I’ve never ascribed to the concept of “resolutions,” in the sense of those silly promises you know you can’t keep. Rather, I prefer to take the opportunity to look out on the new cycle and set some long-term goals which have at least the appearance of achievability, and those whose aim it is to make me just a little bit better off than I was before.

And so, for the sake of both reflection and anticipation, I commit my most relevant political resolutions for the coming year:

1. I resolve to remind myself that “sovereignty” is not a word important only to the United States.

All too often in the discussion of the War on Terror, our entire dialogue happens in the absence of this very basic fact. I thought about this again while watching Pumpkin Head in the last Sunday morning of the Old Year, questioning politicians about the situation in Pakistan. I regret to say that Mike Huckabee did better with his answer than did Barack Obama. But both politicians and Tim Russert all seemed to forget that Pakistan, for all the aid we might have provided them, is still a sovereign nation. When Barack Obama says we need to “be sure” that elections in Pakistan are fair, well, the fact is that we don’t have the right to make that call. We tend to forget that while we get all wrapped up in our own problems.

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U.S. Aiding Turks, Bombing P.K.K. Rebs?

It’s a sign of just how far the Bush Administration will go to avoid even the appearance of diplomacy that even when they’ve already invaded a country, they’d rather allow someone else to drop bombs on said country than deal with the issue directly.

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OK, “Black Helicopters” Moment, Here. . .

Or maybe not so much.  Maybe I’m just giving more credit to the White House than it deserves for setting intelligent policy.  Nevertheless, does it strike anyone else as remotely possible that the White House insists on stepping up pressure on Iran specifically because it spikes oil prices?  Higher oil prices are good news for their efforts in Iraq. Just a thought.

Rice seeks Russian backing on Iran – Yahoo! News

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Armed with support from NATO allies, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will try to convince a skeptical Russia that it should back U.S. plans to step up pressure on Iran to suspend its nuclear activities.