Foreign Policy

Bitter Pill to Swallow

What must it be like? Dick Cheney sitting in the U.S. compound in Iraq, more highly fortified than Fort Knox, as the windows shake, the plaster cracks, and a bomb goes off outside.

Mr. "Red Carpet," Mr. "Greeted as Liberators," Mr. "Last Throes" — now he has to explain, to all in the room, the disaster that he has created. The generals who served are now creating TV ads that denounce this administration for not listening to the troops on the ground, those in charge, as they kept telling Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush that the war was failing and that they could not control the civil strife.

We had the chance to pull out many times, starting with the moment we captured Saddam. We had the chance to turn over the job of being the policeman to the police on the ground, except that Bremer fired them.
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Shame on 11 Republicans Who Confront the President But Vote for His Disaster

The 11 Republicans who confronted President Bush on Tuesday, and promised their continued support for a policy they know is disastrous, have committed an act of indescribable hyprocisy and shame.

On an issue of high honor involving life and death for thousands of American troops, they show the president their poll numbers and promise the president they will again vote for an escalation they know is wrong.

Someday Americans killed in action may reach 4,000 and Americans wounded in action may reach 30,000.

Perhaps the 11 House Republicans will return to the White House and read the president their poll numbers again.

Heroes, they are not. The tragedy in Iraq continues and they vote for it, again.
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A Bill That Could End the War

Just days ago no one knew just how the Democratic leadership could possibly pull off another contortionist act to approve war spending without a withdrawal date and keep the liberals in line. But, mystery solved — the pretzel is beginning to take shape. Democrats now plan to pass a bill in the House Thursday that will fund the war without the funds for spinach farmers, et al., that the Republicans called pork and the Democrats deemed necessary emergency spending. They do so by placing a date on political progress in Iraq — after 90 days, no progress, no money. The “fenced” funding, which is any money for operations after the end of August, would have to be approved by a vote on or around July 13 affirming progress.

Alas — President Bush would veto such a plan, according to what spokesman Tony Snow said today. A Pentagon spokesman said the plan would have a “devastating” effect on the Department of Defense. But Democrats, who feel they have their fingers wrapped around the GOP throat, will proceed as planned. Since House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) opened the floodgates with his comments on FOX News Sunday, Republicans are peeling off in droves from the rhetorical reservation about the Plan B they expect to see in September if Gen. Petraeus reports the surge is not succeeding.
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It’s al Qaeda, Stupid!

The Chicago Tribune reports: “Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq now face a new enemy: Sunni tribesmen in Anbar Province. These tribal leaders in the heart of the insurgency are now backing coalition and Iraqi forces against the terrorists. … While the Sunni tribal leaders probably haven't developed a sudden fondness for U.S. forces, they have apparently developed a deep disgust for the Al Qaeda agenda. The Sunnis don't want what Al Qaeda is peddling: a soul-crushing fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship.”

Seems to me that this is the message we need to be focused on in Iraq. Not nation-building. Not building nice schools. Not trying to get the Sunni and Shia to like each other. Not the surge. No, it seems to me that we should be focused on killing al Qaeda terrorists.

Isn’t that what this war on terrorism is all about? Killing terrorists before they come over here and kill us?
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Republican Death Trap: Bush Wants Iraq Escalation Well into 2008

Today's Washington Post makes it clear that Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) are either leading Republicans and our troops into an Iraq death trap deliberately, or are again being misled by President Bush, who has zero intention of any evaluation of Iraq policy this fall, or even this year, as they suggest.

Let's quote General Odierno verbatim from the Post today. "What I am trying to do is get until April so we can decide whether to keep it going or not," he said.

Let's be crystal clear. This should no longer be called a surge, which is not a description, but a deception, about what is truly going on.

This is a long-term military escalation that will not be reevaluated in September, as Republican leaders claim. It will not be reevaluated in December. It will not be reevaluated until April of 2008, at which point Bush may well want to continue the escalation far beyond April 2008.
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Ignoring Their Advice

A television commercial in the works by VoteVets.org, challenging the notion that President Bush listens to commanders on the ground, will feature Maj. Gens. John Batiste and Paul Eaton. Batiste and Eaton were those very commanders on the ground, and their words will inform voters in districts and states represented by Republicans that, indeed, Bush did not heed their advice about the right strategy for Iraq. These words, from the non-political military, will be hard to forget.

In a staggering letter Eaton wrote Bush last week following Bush's veto of the emergency war spending bill passed by Congress, Eaton said the bill Bush vetoed represented "a course of action that is long overdue." He accused Bush of ignoring the advice of his military experts and noted that a number of generals, including Gen. Eric Shineski, who "did not tell you what you wanted to hear," were forced out of their jobs. Eaton expressed respect for the office Bush holds but said he "could not sit idly by as you told the American people today that your veto was based on the recommendations of military men. Your administration ignored the advice of our military's finest minds before, and I see no evidence that you are listening to them now."
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The Message from France

I have never been one to bash the French. I like their wine, I like their cheese, and these days, I am starting to like their politics.

With the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French are starting to drop all the Socialist baggage that has bedeviled their economy for decades. And if you consider the victory of German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year and the likely strong showing for the Tories in the next election in Great Britain, it seems that the center-right in Europe is on a roll.

Sarkozy ran as a tax cutter, a spending cutter and a hard-liner on illegal immigration. If those ideas are popular in France, surely they should be popular here in the United States.
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Your Majesty, Visit the Wounded at Walter Reed

A state visit, especially by a reigning British monarch, is always meticulously planned far in advance. The royal itinerary reflects the character of the visit as well as the character of the visitors. Given the occasion, a trip to Jamestown was natural. The queen's interest in horses is well known. The visit to the World War II memorial is likely to be particularly poignant, with the queen scheduled to greet GI war brides. All this is appropriate. While meeting GI war brides from six decades ago is powerful and touching, especially considering the queen's own World War II experience, it is worth remembering that America is again involved in another bloody fight far from its shores. New GI brides are being minted on a regular basis. Some of our men and women in uniform are not returning home. As a result, allow me to suggest a minor deviation from the official itinerary: The queen should go to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
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The Democratic Center on Iraq as the Basis for a Bipartisan Solution

iven the partisan polarization about Iraq in the U.S. Congress, most people seem to have missed the positive development that House and Senate Democrats have been able to craft a nuanced and wise policy going forward on Iraq that arguably now commands the broad center of American politics.

Despite the president’s veto of this plan, the Democratic plan still provides the basis for a bipartisan compromise supported by the president going forward.

Thanks to the leadership of Senator Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, virtually all Senate and House Democrats have come together and crafted a proposal that is a centrist blend — neither a precipitous hard deadline for complete withdrawal as demanded by the “out now” Democratic left; nor staying the course and avoiding any commitment to begin withdrawing U.S. forces, the administration’s position. In fact, the Democratic measure is something in between.

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Lying low, for now

What is all this political hand-wringing over the Iraq votes?  How many votes for an override, the differences between the liberal Democrats and the blue dogs, are Democrats over-reaching?

The Democrats are not only doing the right thing pushing back against the Bush administration but the Republicans are quaking in their boots every time they have to cast another vote for Bush’s Iraq policy.

Here’s my guess. Many Republicans feel that they have until early fall to keep their powder dry and lie low. They raise some questions in their public comments but basically toe the Bush line on the votes. If there is not a dramatic turnaround in Iraq soon they know that there is no Plan B. They know that the politics of Iraq, if it rolls into 2008, will be a disaster for Republicans. They know that this war has no light at the end of the tunnel, only more devastation and disaster. They also know that things are unraveling in Afghanistan with more and more civilians getting caught in the crossfire and increasing concern about U.S. troop presence and action on the ground.
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