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Thursday, January 11, 2007


posted by on January 11 at 20:44 PM

In addition to the worrisome stuff about Iran and Syria, this is the important quote from Bush’s speech last night:

Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.

There’s a theme that has fueled the GOP since its resurgence under Reagan—a magnetic theme that continued to carry them right up through Bush’s win over Kerry in 2004. The GOP is the macho party.

They’ve been able to tap this theme because of the powerful myth they created about Vietnam. Despite hardcore shit like the Phoenix program, and the tons of napalm, and the relentless bombing, and over ten years of warfare, the word is: We didn’t give it our all in Vietnam. We held back. No, we were held back.

That storyline turned Democrats (the party associated with the anti-war movement) into wimps. And it turned Republicans into righteous macho men, who have some ass kicking to do.

(This theme was formalized at the height of the Reagan revolution with the Rambo movies, which, if I remember right, were about a Vietnam vet returning to Vietnam to kick some ass. Subtle.)

Bush, obviously, tried to stoke this theme last night. “There were too many restrictions on the troops…”

Here’s my worry: If he’s shut down, the “We were held back” resentment will play out all over again in a backlash against Democrats. If not in ‘08, too soon still. Remember— the Vietnam War was unpopular too. But in a direct way, that defeat gave way to Reaganism…Gingrich…Bush. With the legitimate war against al Qaeda still on our agenda, a backlash against “defeatism” won’t be so hard for Republicans to exploit.

So, am I advocating allowing Bush to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq as a partisan bait and switch so the country can finally learn a lesson from this failure—even though more Americans and Iraqis will die?

Fuck. I’m not that cynical or macabre or depraved. Am I?

But here’s the thing. I do kind of want Bush to send his troops and watch as nothing changes. We will finally see his foreign policy—GOP foreign policy—discredited. (Yes, I know it’s already been discredited, but Bush has provided an opening to discredit it on GOP terms. He’s provided an opening to discredit the definition of the party.)

He’s on record now saying he was held back. He wants to “surge.” And so, he has set up the machismo myth to be exposed. Imagine a year from now if things look the same. Who will Bush blame?

The GOP will be clutching a meaningless trump card.

I want this war over. I want the blowing up to stop. But more troops or less troops, it’s going to be bloody for a while anyway. So, could it be worth it, in the long run, to let Bush play Rambo and unwittingly fuck his party’s defining myth?

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Perhaps you're suffering under the well-meaning delusion that enough reality-based evidence will sway all those poor, duped saps who voted for the fucker to mend their ways?


I'm pretty sure that people who respect aggression aren't oriented that way because someone fooled them with phony evidence. For the hawks, the blood in Iraq is not a symptom of failure.

You point to irrefutable evidence and say "See? See?"

They say, "yeah, I see," and load another clip.

Posted by David Summerlin | January 11, 2007 8:56 PM

It's like the angry middle-aged white guys they use on FOX to shill for this war. These guys aren't macho: They're just silly bullies with backstories only the dumbest among us could swallow.

Take O'Reilly: He likes to talk about how he's from one of the Levittowns, as if they were like Baghdad. Given his age, the Levittowns of his youth were serene, conformist places, where the biggest danger you would face would be falling off your bike.

But that's not the half of it: He's not even FROM Levittown. He's from an affluent suburb that is in the vicinity of Levittown. That was confirmed by his mother, who is offended by his rough upbringing schtick.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | January 11, 2007 9:27 PM

Right on, David.

It isn't like the war mongers will at some point say, ok, thats enough. You see, they have never said that. That is exactly why we continually get into one war after another.

It is the military industrial complex influencing both political parties actively and indirectly to spend our tax dollars and impose our way of life on the world that keeps putting us in these "macho" positions.

Both parties participate in the horredous f'ed up situation by using killing (of all) to advance thier odds for the next election.

If the Democrats do not take action - decisive, direct, action - to limit Bush's escalation AND start a reversal, then they are participating in the war just as much as he. They will be just as (if they arent already...I am heavily suspending disbelief here) complicit in the ongoing destruction.

Pelosi can't continue to march around with that goddamned gavel surrounded by the kiddies with any integrity unless she uses it stop funding this war. That is what she says she is elected to do.

She should do it. How macho are you Nancy?

Posted by patrick C | January 11, 2007 9:30 PM

Because it won't matter, Josh.

We can give Lil' Dubbie and his fellow Ding Dongs a year, five years, ten years. They'll still blame the result on those nefarious Liberals, those slimy Democrats, those crazed miscreants that think diplomacy has its place in the national arsenal as much as the military.

I mean, look at the Republicans in this state as an example. Our state budget has declined in real dollars over the past few years, and yet they'll still holler about "big government" and taxes being too high. Even in the face of losing a big chunck of legislative seats, this mantra is still very much in play. Why? Because it's what their most devoted want to hear, true or false.

The problem with respect to Iraq is that there are only two people that are determined to hear only what the want to hear, only two people in their minds that have to be pleased. And as long as Cheney and Bush think they can do what they want, they'll do it. And when the don't get what they want, they'll cry foul and point to their backs.

And the damn fools that still support their party will go along for the ride, tounges draggin' across the floor, tails vibrating.

Posted by palamedes | January 11, 2007 9:30 PM

Section 8 of Article 1 of the Constitution says it all.

There are 3 categories of powers designated to the Legislative branch here, The first 6 deal with money. Right up front - first and foremost - it is Congress' duty to hold the purse strings.

Military powers are 8 more points in the section.

Remember Bush's talk of political capital after he won in 04? Well, the Democrats now have capital and the authority to use it.

Posted by patrick C | January 11, 2007 9:52 PM

No, no, no, you're reading too much into this and not enough. As I said the night of the speech, "there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have" was not a comment meant for your ears. It was a dig at Maliki and American troops being discouraged or prevented from clamping down on Shiite militias. It was the strongest criticism of Maliki he made all night; and it probably needed to be said.

Posted by annie | January 11, 2007 10:12 PM

It is not a good idea because these are real people you are talking about, not an abstract number. You would be asking 20,000 more people to get shot at daily, inhale god knows what kinds of toxics, and to deal psychologically with some serious shit.

A lot of people are going to come back fucked up from this war. It took us 58,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries and mental issues to admit it was time to leave in Vietnam.

We had no business going into Iraq. We accomplish little by staying. Time to leave. No one bought Bush's rhetoric last night anyway. The jig is up. We need to keep pressing to end the war now.

Posted by no thanks | January 11, 2007 10:20 PM


Posted by Horace | January 11, 2007 11:34 PM

let's see if the democrats punt now, just like they punted two years ago, and two years before that, then they might get elected in 2008, even though their opponents will accuse them of flip flopping and waffling and being weak, and if they get elected, they might then stop the war. maybe.

sounds like a plan. would you be willing to enlist to go fight for it, josh?

and why, after what we did to fallujah, are we not worried about what a supposedly unrestrained american military would do to hundreds of thousands of iraqi civilians?

Posted by wf | January 11, 2007 11:37 PM

Everyone is buying into the false dichotomy that Bush is selling: either stay in Iraq on his terms, or "surrender" and leave.

If this is about macho posturing, why not at least *consider* the Murtha plan: give up these asinine Forward Operating Bases (which consume almost all of our resources just to maintain) in the cities and redeploy the troops to the desolate border regions and bases in places like Kuwait. Read Matt Taibbi's column this week in RS. Mostly what are troops do right now is sit in these FOB's, with only occasional forays out to be used as target practice by the insurgents.

Bush's plan is to stick in the cities and try to implement an counter-insurgency on the insurgent's terms. Unless we are willing to commit outright slaughter of the civilian population that are being used as human shields, it isn't going to work. Not with an extra 20k troops. Not with an extra 200k.

In the open desert around the borders we are at a HUGE military and tactical advantage that we give up when trying to operate in cities. Out there we can use our air-power, our tanks, our satellites... everything that is useless while having troops wander aimlessly around Baghdad. Out there the troops can be given a meaningful mission: stop Syria and Iran from interfering.

Why not suggest we finally do something militarily on our terms, where we are in a position of strategic strength?

Posted by golob | January 12, 2007 12:00 AM

"there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have" - no, this is Bushie code for "We need to be able to invade Cambodia and Laos and be funded for that even if most of America voted against this".

You fail to understand the insane level of incompetence by the Red Bushies.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 12, 2007 12:38 AM

and, in case you didn't get my reference, Cambodia and Laos are what were viewed as "the problem" and in today's world are Iran and Syria.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 12, 2007 12:42 AM

It's about lives, not strategy for our party.

Injustice is vanquished not when you strategize about *when* is the right moment to reject it, but when you always reject it, at every opportunity. Losing along the way eventually brings the rest of with you.

This will happen because the others here are right. It won't change - the other part of the historical context that I know you know - is that post-Watergate, Cheney knew the biggest impact was going to be efforts towards limiting presidential powers. Our foreign policy since then has consistently had, among others, a goal of military action that challenges limits on presidential powers.

They aren't going to stop because it's gonna worse. They get stronger each time it gets worse and we are made weaker, not stronger. The courts said no wiretaps, they don't agree with the ruling. HUH - since when do you not DO what the highest court says you must do? (that's one branch that's supposed to be a check) They lie to Congress to start a war (that's the other check). Why don't you want to see what would happen if Congress said "no." I do because I want to see what the good guys - together with those they represent - will do when we are all collectively ignored by king george. What does a nation - when joined by their Congress and their Court do when a president does not govern according to the constitution?

I think a LOT of people in those branches need to get really mad before we can figure it out. The people thinking about compromise would to best to represent us - and with each kingly act of the decider their anger will begin to represent our anger. We win it by standing against this tragedy, not by allowing it or compromising with it. When has anything like this ever been made right by standing down? You never get stronger by NOT using your power, you only get stronger when you use it.

Josh, I thought you believed in the movement man!

Posted by LH | January 12, 2007 2:24 AM

Yeah, my head exploded when he said that. Still bringing out the old stand by. I am amazed that even with 30 + years to look back on Vietnam, there are a holes that still think US involvement was right and we could have won if only.

David Summerlin is right. No amount of evidence will convince *them* that the only way out is OUT.

Posted by Mike in MO | January 12, 2007 5:46 AM

So basically, you're aksing me if it's worth sending my wife and our friends over to play in the sandbox for a year each in order to score political points and "win" something in the fake Red v. Blue game you're apparently WAY TOO immersed in.

Listen to yourself, you depraved, cynical asshole, and then go fuck yourself.

Believing that this could be a worthwhile strategy long enough to write this post puts you in the company of Rumsfeld, Rove, Bush et al as someone who values embarassing your political "enemies" higher than you do the lives of other human beings.

Seek help now.

Posted by J | January 12, 2007 5:47 AM

exerpt from

‘We need the Americans’
In Hurriyah, the convoy pulled up outside the Muheaman Mosque, a tan Sunni house of worship overlooking a dirt field with junked cars. Last month, militiamen from the Mahdi Army, the force of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, killed several mosque workers. Now, an Iraqi army unit, with all Shiites, was stationed inside the mosque. The area, they said, was controlled by the Mahdi force.

Lt. Dan Futrell, 23, of Santa Clara, Calif., walked into the mosque, flanked by his comrades. Unarmed, bleary-eyed Iraqi soldiers greeted him and called for their commander, Maj. Saad Khalid Fetlawi, who wore a red beret.

Futrell asked him for 10 Iraqi soldiers to help search the targeted houses. Fetlawi immediately agreed and ordered his men to report for duty. As he waited, Fetlawi said he had heard that the United States was sending thousands of extra troops.

"This is good news. We have a weak government and a weak army. We need training, we need more equipment," Fetlawi said. "We need the Americans to help us go forward. Iraqi army soldiers are not ready to do all this themselves. At the moment, 20,000 is a good number to help us to bring security."

Then are you ready wait for it...the kicker

‘We’re chasing a ghost’
After nearly a half-hour, the soldiers had not unearthed a single weapon. Futrell asked Joey to see whether they were near Mahanara School, as the informant had told them. They weren't. They were near Imam Ali School.

The houses they were meant to search were in another section of Hurriyah.

Some of the American soldiers were angry. They had wasted their time and put their lives at risk.

"Are we even in Hurriyah?" Mongol demanded.

"We're chasing a ghost," Hill said.

They returned to the mosque and asked Fetlawi for a map of Hurriyah.

"I have no map of the place. I came here two days ago," he said.

Still, Fetlawi made a call and was able to find the correct school. He dispatched a pickup truck with his men to guide the U.S. soldiers.

Inside the Stryker, Lake fumed: "A debacle," he declared.

"Same old bull. . . ," Caldwell said, using an expletive.

[My point is why with all the Intelligence we went into this war
with why are we throwing a monkey wrench by not providing said Iraqi officers with correct updated maps.Why dont we improve the relation between our Us troops and the Iraqi soldier and build cohesion instead of sending more soldiers.
It all seems this war is being fought half assed. No one is to be a clear winner. We are not cooperating with this Iraqi but we will with that one etc. etc. Can't trust anybody why the hell are we there. Give the country completely to the Shiites and Kurds and lets get the fuck back home.
We came we saw we conquered,(Vini,Vidi,Vici) so let them figure it out. This protecting minority sunnis is whats making this war a debacle. And there are no civilians over there.
Not after this much fighting and our intitial assault. The Iraqis are involved no matter what. They have a side they have chosen and they live with that consequence. Shiite, Kurd, Sunni, whatever. I hate that word in the media--- "In Iraq today Civilians were blown up nearby a market."
By who? answer. Other civilians dipshit news guy. So Bush its a civil war and I feel for our soldiers. They need to bug out and go home.
If you send 20,000 troops
Let it be the Fly boys and aviation units 'cause we all want to fly the hell out of Iraq ASAP. Screw an exit strategy, The shiites will back us up on our flight if we back them in the fight. And they have the upperhand. Simple Battle exit and we look cool for liberating Iraq from big bad Sunni Baathists and can go on to fight another day another way.]

Iraq story cont. So the Americans crossed the street and searched the two-story house. They examined a red trunk on the roof and dug through a pile of sand. No weapons. "I think it's a dry hole," Mongol said, with disappointment.

Inside the Stryker, as it headed back to the base, the soldiers of Apache Company wondered whether they had been given false information by their Iraqi army contact. "They know things we don't," Lake said, repeating what he had said on the way to Hurriyah.

"That's why we're still here. That's why we will be here for years."

Posted by sputnik | January 12, 2007 8:08 AM


Posted by bing | January 12, 2007 10:45 AM

Josh, you need to rewatch "First Blood". Rambo doesn't go back to Vietnam. In fact he goes to the state of Washington where he's harrassed and arrested by a bunch of rednecks and seeks his revenge.

The character is a traumatized Vietnam vet who has trouble adapting to life back in the states. Folks who missed this message back in the 80s also never listened to ALL the words of "Born In The USA".

Posted by DOUG. | January 12, 2007 11:21 AM

while i think it's completely unconscienable to considder allowing over 20,000 more kids to be sunk into this quagmire to make some kind of political point... i do think there is a way for the Dems to NOT be whimps, AND get those troops out of Iraq. Let's amp up our forces in the mountains between Afganistan and Pakistan. A 20,000 troop surge there would completely change the face of that conflict, and there are beacoup bad guys in those hills. The Dems have a golden opportunity to completely overhaul the "war on terror" and achieve some valuable victories that Dub ya and Co. never sincerely tried to.

Of course, the whole region is a ticking bomb if we won't even talk to Syria and Iran. The Iranians just had an election that showed they are weary of all the antagonism of Admenehenjibabadabbadoo. Let's carpe diem and get these guys to the negotiating table. We are the US of fucking A and they are Iran, so we bring WAY more chips to that table than they do. Of course, if i was an ignorant fuckwit like (insert anyone in our currnet administration) I'd proabably be reluctent to negotiate too.

Posted by longball | January 12, 2007 1:55 PM

Josh, you need to look at the cold hard fact that Bush is capable of and planning to Nuke Iran. Why have the Dems not impeached Bush yet! The Democrats and those that place any faith in them are the liberal ancestors of the Social Democrats in Weimar Germany. The only way to stop the spread of this war and to prevent Nukes from being dropped on non nuclear countries is to remove Bush’s war powers authorization given to him by congress, and impeach his fascist ass.

Posted by Gary | January 13, 2007 2:41 AM

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