July 18, 2007

'I Will Stand Where I Stand'

Harry Reid wanted a debate, and he got one, especially from John McCain, during last night's stunt -- which Reid himself mostly skipped. It didn't change a single vote, and more importantly, Reid didn't get what he wanted -- a Republican refusal to engage. Instead, Republicans made it clear that they had no intention of allowing Congress to usurp the role of the executive, and McCain made it clear why. Here's his entire statement from the debate early this morning:

Mr. President, we have nearly finished this little exhibition, which was staged, I assume, for the benefit of a briefly amused press corps and in deference to political activists opposed to the war who have come to expect from Congress such gestures, empty though they may be, as proof that the majority in the Senate has heard their demands for action to end the war in Iraq. The outcome of this debate, the vote we are about to take, has never been in doubt to a single member of this body. And to state the obvious, nothing we have done for the last twenty-four hours will have changed any facts on the ground in Iraq or made the outcome of the war any more or less important to the security of our country. The stakes in this war remain as high today as they were yesterday; the consequences of an American defeat are just as grave; the costs of success just as dear. No battle will have been won or lost, no enemy will have been captured or killed, no ground will have been taken or surrendered, no soldier will have survived or been wounded, died or come home because we spent an entire night delivering our poll-tested message points, spinning our soundbites, arguing with each other, and substituting our amateur theatrics for statesmanship. All we have achieved are remarkably similar newspaper accounts of our inflated sense of the drama of this display and our own temporary physical fatigue. Tomorrow the press will move on to other things and we will be better rested. But nothing else will have changed.

In Iraq, American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen are still fighting bravely and tenaciously in battles that are as dangerous, difficult and consequential as the great battles of our armed forces’ storied past. Our enemies will still be intent on defeating us, and using our defeat to encourage their followers in the jihad they wage against us, a war which will become a greater threat to us should we quit the central battlefield in defeat. The Middle East will still be a tinderbox, which our defeat could ignite in a regional war that will imperil our vital interests at risk there and draw us into a longer and far more costly war. The prospect of genocide in Iraq, in which we will be morally complicit, is still as real a consequence of our withdrawal today as it was yesterday.

During our extended debate over the last few days, I have heard senators repeat certain arguments over and over again. My friends on the other side of this argument accuse those of us who oppose this amendment with advocating “staying the course,” which is intended to suggest that we are intent on continuing the mistakes that have put the outcome of the war in doubt. Yet we all know that with the arrival of General Petraeus we have changed course. We are now fighting a counterinsurgency strategy, which some of us have argued we should have been following from the beginning, and which makes the most effective use of our strength and does not strengthen the tactics of our enemy. This new battle plan is succeeding where our previous tactics have failed, although the outcome remains far from certain. The tactics proposed in the amendment offered by my friends, Senators Levin and Reed – a smaller force, confined to bases distant from the battlefield, from where they will launch occasional search and destroy missions and train the Iraqi military – are precisely the tactics employed for most of this war and which have, by anyone’s account, failed miserably. Now, that, Mr. President, is staying the course, and it is a course that inevitably leads to our defeat and the catastrophic consequences for Iraq, the region and the security of the United States our defeat would entail.

Yes, we have heard quite a lot about the folly of “staying the course,” though the real outcome should this amendment prevail and be signed into law, would be to deny our generals and the Americans they have the honor to command the ability to try, in this late hour, to address the calamity these tried and failed tactics produced, and salvage from the wreckage of our previous failures a measure of stability for Iraq and the Middle East, and a more secure future for the American people.

I have also listened to my colleagues on the other side repeatedly remind us that the American people have spoken in the last election. They have demanded we withdraw from Iraq, and it is our responsibility to do, as quickly as possible, what they have bid us to do. But is that our primary responsibility? Really, Mr. President, is that how we construe our role: to follow without question popular opinion even if we believe it to be in error, and likely to endanger the security of the country we have sworn to defend? Surely, we must be responsive to the people who have elected us to office, and who, if it is their wish, will remove us when they become unsatisfied with our failure to heed their demands. I understand that, of course. And I understand why so many Americans have become sick and tired of this war, given the many, many mistakes made by civilian and military leaders in its prosecution. I, too, have been made sick at heart by these mistakes and the terrible price we have paid for them. But I cannot react to these mistakes by embracing a course of action that I know will be an even greater mistake, a mistake of colossal historical proportions, which will -- and I am as sure of this as I am of anything – seriously endanger the people I represent and the country I have served all my adult life. I have many responsibilities to the people of Arizona, and to all Americans. I take them all seriously, Mr. President, or try to. But I have one responsibility that outweighs all the others – and that is to do everything in my power, to use whatever meager talents I posses, and every resource God has granted me to protect the security of this great and good nation from all enemies foreign and domestic. And that I intend to do, Mr. President, even if I must stand athwart popular opinion. I will explain my reasons to the American people. I will attempt to convince as many of my countrymen as I can that we must show even greater patience, though our patience is nearly exhausted, and that as long as there is a prospect for not losing this war, then we must not choose to lose it. That is how I construe my responsibility to my constituency and my country. That is how I construed it yesterday. It is how I construe it today. And it is how I will construe it tomorrow. I do not know how I could choose any other course.

I cannot be certain that I possess the skills to be persuasive. I cannot be certain that even if I could convince Americans to give General Petraeus the time he needs to determine whether we can prevail, that we will prevail in Iraq. All I am certain of is that our defeat there would be catastrophic, not just for Iraq, but for us, and that I cannot be complicit in it, but must do whatever I can, whether I am effective or not, to help us try to avert it. That, Mr. President, is all I can possibly offer my country at this time. It is not much compared to the sacrifices made by Americans who have volunteered to shoulder a rifle and fight this war for us. I know that, and am humbled by it, as we all are. But though my duty is neither dangerous nor onerous, it compels me nonetheless to say to my colleagues and to all Americans who disagree with me: that as long as we have a chance to succeed we must try to succeed.

I am privileged, as we all are, to be subject to the judgment of the American people and history. But, my friends, they are not always the same judgment. The verdict of the people will arrive long before history’s. I am unlikely to ever know how history has judged us in this hour. The public’s judgment of me I will know soon enough. I will accept it, as I must. But whether it is favorable or unforgiving, I will stand where I stand, and take comfort from my confidence that I took my responsibilities to my country seriously, and despite the mistakes I have made as a public servant and the flaws I have as an advocate, I tried as best I could to help the country we all love remain as safe as she could be in an hour of serious peril.

If the Democrats want an end to the war, then let them use the one power the Constitution gives them to do so: defund the war. They don't want to take responsibility for the catastrophe that will follow in its wake, however, so they continue to conduct publicity stunts like this slumber party and offer unconstitutional legislation that Bush is certain to veto. Harry Reid can't even figure out how to surrender properly.


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Comments (37)

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 18, 2007 11:36 AM

The headline says it all:

Senate GOP blocks troop withdrawal
Senate Republicans today scuttled a Democratic proposal ordering troop withdrawals from Iraq in a showdown that capped an all-night debate on the war.

It's basically about making one thing very clear, that it's the Republicans who are responsible for keeping the U.S. stuck in Iraq.

Posted by marvin | July 18, 2007 11:49 AM

Thank God for Republicans.

Posted by J. Ewing | July 18, 2007 11:53 AM

I wish "we" would quit telling the Democrats to defund the war, if they want to end it. Considering their lack of judgement, irrationality and total absence of intelligence about Iraq, they are liable to take our advice. What we should be telling them is to sit down and shut up while we win this thing, so that THEN we can bring the troops home.

Posted by Adjoran | July 18, 2007 11:58 AM

If John McCain dropped out of the Presidential race today and dedicated his energies to bringing this message to the American people, he would be performing a great public service.

For the traitorous cowards on the other side, we can only hope the terrorists stop by to see them first to say "thank you!" in their own inimitable way.

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 18, 2007 12:07 PM

What we should be telling them is to sit down and shut up while we win this thing, so that THEN we can bring the troops home.

It isn't possible for the U.S. to keep 160,000 troops in Iraq for fifteen more years while the civil war in Iraq plays itself out, not to mention the blowback such a long occupation would create in the Muslim world.

Posted by Mike M. | July 18, 2007 12:22 PM

Those poor, little, pathetic Senate Democrats: still too cowardly to fight the war, and still too cowardly to end it.

Yes, they'll probably do well in the election, but oh what a pitiable and miserable existence. History will definitely not look kindly upon such vile men.

Posted by tommad | July 18, 2007 12:35 PM

Nonsense. All it takes to "end the war" is to defund it. From their high-horses, the Dems don't have the balls to take the fallout if they defund, we withdraw, and all hell breaks loose over there...and then HERE.

It's nothing but smoke and mirrors played before the cameras for the sake of nutroot constituencies.

Posted by Clyde | July 18, 2007 12:39 PM

The American people did, indeed, speak last November. The majority of the electorate said, "We don't care. We're disgusted with the whole situation. We don't care enough to go to the polls in an off-year election." Only about 40% of registered voters showed up nationwide. The people spoke, and they said, "I'd rather rake leaves or play with my XBOX than vote for any of you. Leave me alone!"

The Democratic "landslide" was about 22% of the electorate. That's hardly a mandate for anything. And their message had NOTHING to do with the Iraq War. The Democrats message was: "The Republicans are corrupt! Mark Foley is a pedophile! Throw the bums out!" That message was successful.

Given a choice between the Stupid Party and the Dangerous Party, the 40% of the electorate that showed up chose the Dangerous Party. Don't blame me; I voted Republican.

Posted by NoDonkey | July 18, 2007 12:41 PM

There's no possible way to "end the war".

Sure, we can do some half-assed, ill-planned, cowardly retreat to please the absolutely worthless Judas Party.

But that's not going to end the war. Not in the least.

And when the war comes to our shores again, the Democrat Party will have a plan in hand - to blame our President and to gain votes.

Other than that, the Judas Party has five pieces of silver.

Posted by Okonkolo | July 18, 2007 12:54 PM

A wonderful speech my McCain.

In a way, the timing of this oddly helps the war supporters as it has taken some attention off of the the release of the NIE, which seriously questions the idea of making Iraq the focus of the GWOT (even if it fails to address the idea if the Iraq war itself has made things worse, as its critics point out).

Posted by ckerst | July 18, 2007 12:58 PM

How would the catastrophe that follows defunding the war be different from the catastrophe we have now? Other than American service men not being killed for no good reason of course.

Posted by docjim505 | July 18, 2007 1:12 PM

If you had any doubts whatsoever that, as far as the dems are concerned, this debate is about politics and NOT the troops or national security, just read starfleet_dude's post above. It seems good evidence (as if there was a need for it) in support of something that we conservatives have been saying for months:

The dems want the United States to lose in Iraq. More specifically, they want BUSH to lose. Therefore, they will do whatever it takes to sabotage the war effort because they think it will win them votes.

They don't even rise to the level of treason like that of "true believers" such as the Rosenbergs. Just like their moral ancestor, Benedict Arnold, they want to sell out the country for personal gain.

Note that starfleet_dude doesn't mention the troops, for whom he and other quislings have shed many crocodile tears over the past few years. One would think that, if the dems REALLY cared about the troops (you know: that collection of uneducated losers and babykillers who can't get a real job in the Worst Economy Since the Great Depression (TM)), they'd pull the plug on the war tomorrow. But Grand Admiral Reid and Commissar Pelosi, despite their many failings (moral, intellectual, ethical, and spiritual), have some inkling of the catastrophe that will likely occur if they get their way. They want the US to lose, but they want it to be Bush's fault so they don't have to take any of the rap for the Killing Fields v2.0.

The dems like to tell us that they WANT to fight the REAL enemy, al Qaeda. Never mind that AQ is in Iraq; the REAL enemy is elsewhere. O' course, aside from a few pro forma mentions of Afghanistan, the dems don't talk about exactly HOW they will fight the "real" enemy. They gloss over the tremendous victory that they want to hand the "real" enemy by pulling out of Iraq. They don't worry about the strong possibility of Iraq becoming another post-Soviet A-stan, a base for the "real" enemy and other terrorist groups. Clearly, their rhetoric about the "real" enemy is exactly that: rhetoric. Rhetoric designed to give them a veneer of patriotism and concern for national security, rhetoric intended to fool Americans into thinking that their plan isn't intended solely for short-term political gain. Harry Reid and SanFran Nan like being the leaders of Congress, and they'll sell out the country in a second to keep their grubby hands on the gavel.

Except for defeatism, the dems haven't had a consistent message since the first day of battle. Bogged down. Didn't do enough planning. Too many boots on the ground. Not enough boots on the ground. The military's stretched too thin. Don't increase military spending. Have a draft. Oppose the draft. Redeploy to A-stan. Redeploy to Okinawa. Redeploy to Anarctica. Support the troops. Call the troops idiots. Support the generals. Ignore the generals. The CIA's reports are 100% accurate. The CIA cherry-picks intel. Petraeus is our last, best hope. Petraeus is an incompetent fool. AQ is a threat. AQ isn't a threat. We're ignoring our allies. We don't have allies. The allies we have are stooges that we bought off. Blah-blah-blah-blah.

I suppose that this accounts for the libs' inability to understand the motive of those of us who want to win. We're alternately doing it for political gain (!), because we're greedy for oil, because we just loooooove George Bush, or because we're stupid. The idea that we want to win because we think it's in the best interests not only of the United States but also of Iraq and the entire Middle East doesn't quite register with them. I guess it's because people with devious, treacherous motives can't comprehend that other people aren't in the mental and moral slime with them.

McCain and the GOP senators have won back some of the many, many points they've lost with me over the past several months. There are still areas in which I have nothing but contempt for the leaders of my own party, but on this issue AT THIS TIME, I think they are (at last) doing the right thing.

Posted by JEM | July 18, 2007 1:28 PM

starfleet_dude: if this country cannot maintain 160K troops on the ground anywhere in the frickin' world it wants to, other than perhaps the Shanghai Bund or the random Siberian oil field, then it's clear evidence of how pathetically thin and weak we've let our supposedly all-controlling 'military-industrial complex' get.

That isn't to say we should do so, but ability should not even be in question - as unfortunately it is.

In a perfect - or even sane - world the Democrat leadership would acknowledge that in voting to send Petraeus over, they deferred discussion of future direction in Iraq until September and opened the possibility that the situation might in fact improve in that time.

Instead, they're playing to the potbangers on the Left by ensuring that not a week goes by without some kind of protest vote.

Posted by KW64 | July 18, 2007 1:40 PM

Bravo dockjim505, well said.

Bravo John McCain, the Dems do indeed advocate a policy of nonengagement that will reflect exactly what has not worked. And what is their plan B if disengagement leads to global recession inducing $200 per barrel oil and threats to our allies in the Gulf like Kuwait, Qatar etc?

Bravo Captain Ed, I doubt the media will give McCain's argument real time

Bravo Armed Forces, where do we find such men.

Posted by Geekmouth | July 18, 2007 1:52 PM

I really don't understand you here - I think you are trying to conflate tactical military successes with Victory. The war is Iraq is full of tactical success but is and virtually always has been a strategic failure. I don't think anyone doubts that our troops successfully accomplish the vast majority of missions that they are given, they have done that since the beginning (that is tactical). We have made no measurable progress on anything resembling a strategic goal in years.

Here's an important question for you all - you want to stay in Iraq 'for as long as it takes". Tell me what "it" is? What is our strategic goal in Iraq? When will we know it has been accomplished? The Republican approach is to keep using the military hammer, they make it bigger, they hope to make it smaller, but they hammer away at this. What if Iraq ain't a nail? When do we stop hammering?

The only Republican strategy I'm seeing is to keep on fighting and sending soldiers to Iraq and stop the Democrats from changing that approach. That doesn't sound very strategic.

My last question is how many years and how many different military tactics do we need to see tried before a normal person on the street thinks the Republicans can't get the job done and should give it up? In many polls 70% of the people have already gotten there. How are Republicans and war supporters going to regain their credibility when they can't show strategic success?


Posted by starfleet_dude | July 18, 2007 1:56 PM

JEM, here's what the Pentagon itself has to say about future troop levels in Iraq:

Soldiering On
The current U.S. emphasis may be on the surge in Iraq, but there are plans to start drawing down U.S. forces by the beginning of 2008, according to senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the planning.
The senior U.S. commanders in Iraq -- Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno and Gen. David Petraeus -- want the surge to continue until at least December and expect to report enough progress in Iraq by September to justify it, officials told ABC News' Martha Raddatz.
But then a drawdown may begin in February 2008, although each of the two generals supports a slightly different plan. ...
In any event, U.S. officials tell ABC News troop levels in Iraq cannot be maintained at the present level, either politically or practically, with the military stretched so thin.

If the last report on the failure of the Iraqis to meet the benchmarks set for them is any indication, there won't be enough progress made in Iraq by September to justify a continuation of President Bush's escalation.

Posted by Da Coyote | July 18, 2007 1:58 PM

Had McCain kept his mouth shut on all else except our military, he would be a shoe in for pres. I am baffled at how he managed to approach Kennedy spazmosity on all other subjects that he deigned to approach. Pity.

Posted by William Tanksley | July 18, 2007 2:12 PM


"How would the catastrophe that follows defunding the war be different from the catastrophe we have now? Other than American service men not being killed for no good reason of course."

That's an excellent thing to ask. Let me answer: The difference is that far fewer American soldiers will die if we continue the surge, because they are taking and holding territory in order to convince the locals that their government is able to protect them. In a retreat, the soldiers have to abandon territory, thereby convincing the locals that the soldiers will NOT be able to protect them; this requires that the locals be SURE to be in good graces with the criminals and terrorists which will be taking over. Retreats are always tactically tricky, and this one will be almost suicidal in its risk. Expect many more bombs and many fewer informants.

If the defunding is fast enough (which it almost certainly would be), we'd have to leave equipment behind; tanks simply cost too much to move.

And that's just a "selfish" viewpoint, considering only the costs to our own soldiers. We can also expect to see a massive explosion of revenge killings, possibly on the scale of genocide. Criminal gangs and sharia terrorists will take over many areas over which they'd recently been evicted, and will spread their control. Iran won't let Iraq survive as a major independent power if they can help it, so if some of these unfortunate consequences are slow coming on their own, Iran will certainly step in to speed them up (even if that's not their plan now).

If we stay? Well, I would expect continued historically low casualty rates. I would hope for more of the country to become controlled by their own government. I would hope for governmental changes which are made possible by increased security that in turn increase the confidence of even minorities. I would hope that we can start drawing down our troops as we actually gain control.

I want to end this war too. But I know that a war can only be ended by consensus of both sides (or the destruction of one, but that's not going to happen). It won't end merely because we declare it to be over, or because we retreat.

Again, if you think the war is a 'catastrophe' now, just wait until you see a real retreat. You may have to invent a new word to mean "a bad thing".

Posted by Bill Faith | July 18, 2007 2:16 PM

I think it's about time for W to start having Senator McCain write his speeches for him and teach him how to pronounce all of the multi-syllable words.

Only slightly OT: A big part of the reason so many people think we're losing in Iraq is biased and inaccurate reporting by the MSM. Ed, I know you got the same email from Lorie that I did about the new Media MythBusters wiki. I'll be watching for your post sending people to check it out.

I added a link to my 2007.07.18 Long War // Dhimm Perfidy Roundup

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 18, 2007 2:45 PM

Shorter John McCain:

We're here because we're here because
we're here because we're here

We're here because we're here because
we're here because we're here


(sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, just like the Tommies sang it during WWI, with gusto)

By McCain's logic, we'd still be stuck in Vietnam. Maybe he should talk a bit with Colin Powell about exit strategery for a change.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 18, 2007 4:02 PM

starfleet_dude said:

"JEM, here's what the Pentagon itself has to say about future troop levels in Iraq:

Soldiering On"

Just curious, how come you edited the first part of the story afer the 3rd paragraph?

Posted by r | July 18, 2007 4:24 PM


Interesting post. But the last sentence is a vapid, pointless cheap shot. "Harry Reid can't figure out how to surrender properly."

You seem to be willing to defuse so much, 'it's no big deal,' - mostly the tone of your posts on Gonzalez, on Cheney's Imperial Presidency. Whats the kerfuffle all about?

Ah, but then the democrats want to surrender. Sigh. Lame, lame, lame. It negates your opinion as unserious. The Dems don't want to surrender fast, they are tired of Bush losing so slowly. There is a difference. We are fighting to stop a civil war. Would you want your son to die for that? I don't know if I'd want mine, no I'm sure I don't want him to die for that.

It's a huge, complex issue. Burns is respected and paints a careful picture. But your silly, partisan cheapshot helps wipe away the preceding thoughtful discussion.

I expect the Forever war partisans on this site to insist on their black/white mindset, that's how they see the world. It's their filter, they can't help but equate genuine disagreement with treason, appeasement, etc. No one can dialogue with them. Accepted, and moved on.

But do the Repubs here take any responsibility for the stonewalling the GOP has engaged in on virtually every issue passing through congress?

There used to be a tradition of filibustering, of when and how to do it. I am no fan of tradition, but I understand the conservative respect for it.

This is why I am so constantly surprised by the current Republican assault on our traditions of governing. Redistrict Texas every two years, not every 10? No problem if Delay is leading the effort! The Veep is outside the executive? No problem, if it's Cheney! The USAs are political appointees who nevertheless have a long, solid tradition of being non-partisan. Not any more! They pass conservative litmus tests, confuse their oath to the constituation with one to a man, the President. No problem, if it's Bush! There's no end to the assault on tradition, but no Repubs care. Why?

I can only figure that Repubs think that Iraq and loyalty to the Forever War take priority forever, and that it's best an intramural, intra-tribal concern, not to splatter any sweat over in public. All else, including respect to tradition, take a back seat.

That is how I see the Reid move. Not as theater pointed out by McCain - as if a CANDIDATE making a speach on the issue isn't himself engaging in theater! Give me a break, citing McCain, the man who tried to sell his soul to the evangelicals and they wanted a refund! I see Reid's move as trying to make the fat-free, new way of filibustering (just SAY you're going to, don't actually do it) actually impose a cost.

But sure, there's politics on both sides. That's who these sleezes are, anyway. Best not to like any of them. But Repubs want to see their leaders as part of National Cause, I think, more than Dems.

Just, what? A year, two years ago - the GOP was insisting on up or down votes. As Joyner says today at Outside the Beltway, on an issue this big, the Repubs should provide the yes/no choice.

All of a sudden the filibuster is legit. Surprise! Radicals love tradition so long as it benefits themselves.



Posted by r | July 18, 2007 4:32 PM


I agree, eliminate the Judas party. Any party that goes against the constitution, puts the President above the law, politicizes fundamental issues like air quality, the DOJ, cannot comprehend core democratic values such as a free society and dissent without throwing around the label 'treason', extolls torture, seeks to arbitrarily deem reality to fit its preconceived religious categories no matter what the educated world thinks, and seeks to deprive its citizens of civilization-old rights such as marriage is a traitor.

You mean the Republican Party, right? At last someone I can agree with.


Posted by Neo | July 18, 2007 5:00 PM

Reid loses his water filibuster.

Posted by the tapper | July 18, 2007 5:00 PM

Who started this war anyway.......The Iraqis' themselves were not strong enough to overthrow Saddam. They have no Itea what freedom is like when we speak of freedom. They have been trampled by every ruler they have had and we what them to stand up, so we can leave so they can be slaughtered again. Wow! LET THEM GROW, Do no slaughter them......Wake up American Congress.......Do not play ploitics with the lives of the Iraqi and our military...As faar as McCain is concerned he speaks correctly for trom the military angle, but I feel he is too close to the torture thing to be objective....

Posted by William Tanksley | July 18, 2007 5:18 PM

r: "All of a sudden the filibuster is legit."

Yes. The Republican party claims that the filibuster is valid for Senate debates and such. Some of them claim that it's not valid while giving "advice and consent", or at least that the function of the Senate while giving such advice can be reasonably defined to exclude filibuster.

There's no hypocrisy -- although the ones who argued the above are self-serving and disagreeable (I certainly disagree with them!).

"We are fighting to stop a civil war. Would you want your son to die for that?"

No. I wouldn't want my son to die. I wouldn't want to die either. But there are causes for which I would die, and if I raise my son right, there are causes for which he'll be willing to die. But in this case the dying isn't to stop a civil war; it's to make Iraq into a democratic state.

If we retreat our soldiers will (during the retreat) be dying to get us out of a civil war (which will be ongoing around them,and will become worse as they leave). To use your words, "would you want your son to die for that?"

Bush may "own" this war, and these ridiculously high defense budgets; but your party will "own" the retreat. And if military history is any guide, it'll be bloody -- and if common sense is any guide, we'll be responsible for the broken pieces we leave on the floor.

Posted by r | July 18, 2007 6:09 PM

"But in this case the dying isn't to stop a civil war; it's to make Iraq into a democratic state."

William, I see your point. But I disagree - I think both your statements are true. We are most certainly trying to keep a lid on a bloody civil war, and we are also trying to make Iraq democratic.

But it's so much more than this - a democratic Iraq can still go deep into sharia law, into a theocracy. Iraq was once the most secular state in the Middle East, no longer. Do you really want blood shed over such an outcome?

There is a very good chance that it will go this way, too - to fight for a democratic Iraq is to fight for a likely Shiite Iraq and all that that entails. Is that worth dying for too?

Democracy isn't enough to die for. We support the Iraqi govt and Iraqi police are setting our troops up for ambush. They are deeply corrupt and very sectarian.

All these are happening under the rubric of 'democracy,' and once we start being realistic and genuinely characterizing the fledgling democracy in our discussion here, it seems to be quite the tarnished, ugly little thing.

Democracy as such sounds far nobler and more palatable. But corruption, death squads and payback, antiquated sharia laws - I don't want our troops dying for THAT.

That's IF we can achieve a stable govt. Can we? Petraeus says it will take years. Are you willing to gamble such incredible amounts of blood and treasure on such an iffy proposition?

This sounds like a gambler chasing a winner-take-all pot, not the prudence I thought that conservatives were proud to foster. Conservatives criticizes Liberal social engineering, but what else is Iraq except this to the extreme?

If you disagree, can you at least see how non-war supporters (not liberals, dems, moderates, etc - just those who think this whole thing is irretrievably a mess) would be agog at Republican naivete?

After all, we don't have the troops to last it to the end. Democracy promotion is far harder than elections, as we have seen. Let me repeat this, we don't have the troops, unless Bush once again prolongs their tours. Can you see the mess that those against the war see? Can you at least grant that this doubt is legitimate?

Those of us who were skeptical have been proven right, and yet we are still called cowards, defeatists, etc. It's just incredible. There is no end to Republican self-righteousness on an issue where it so poorly merited.

The ONLY thing Bush has is, is the eternal question:" But what if we pull out?" And I agree, it is a damn mess. That's a different story. But our military can't last, can not last as long as the Iraqi govt needs us to.

This is what Repubs don't seem to grasp. They pine for 'Victory' like it's Hitler we're fighting. It's not at all the same thing. This will take decades, and I don't see how we, meaning you or I, can support such unlimited war.

"Bush may "own" this war, and these ridiculously high defense budgets; but your party will "own" the retreat. And if military history is any guide, it'll be bloody -- and if common sense is any guide, we'll be responsible for the broken pieces we leave on the floor."

I agree. It will be ghastly. But this is where the lenses differ: I see Iraq as a choice between terrible and catastrophic choices, whereas others see it as a choice between victory and defeat.

This is the divide, the chasm across which the two sides simply talk past each other. I myself have had enough empty 'stay the course' rhetoric, hang in there, it's tough but we've got moxy, etc, etc - this isn't a Western and Americans need to face the dreadful realities, as I see it. To someone who sees 'victory' as possible, I can see how that just seems weak.

But Bush has been a catastrophe, a real disaster for America - he botched everything we needed him to accomplish. And he's still chugging full steam ahead. It's a nightmare. He can't self-correct, he's a little man with a big problem, and he's in over his head.

I don't support 'precipitous withdrawl.' I see it as we are truly, genuinely stuck in Iraq - if we leave, will we watch innocents get slaughtered in the civil war's crossfire? Doesn't sound good to me. Do we stay indefinitely, keeping the Iraqis to NO accountably whatsoever? Doesn't sound good.

But the timeline is moving - and our military will break before we can fix their govt. That's my take on the realities of the situation, unpleasant though it may be. We cannot stop them from imploding, at this point. We might pull back to the borders, etc - I don't know- but this democracy you see as worth fighting and even dying for, for me - not a chance. It's grotesque and a failure. We die to postpone the Civil War, and MAYBE my son would die to help them go democratic but not theocratic, not in bed with Iran, etc. Not for me, my son won't die for that kind of reckless adventurism, or get injured and get crappy treatment in Walter Reed, be called a traitor if he exercises those constitutionally granted rights to dissent, or be treated like a political pawn by some Republican senator who wants to talk tough about the War but who himself takes a half dozen deferrments. It's too revolting for me.

We can disagree about all of this. But the right wing rhetoric is preposterously dreamy and exalted, and the GOP candidates are absolutely forced to mirror all of this. Iraq is the Republican war, the base simply cannot tolerate anything less than obedience. It's a shame.

Posted by Fight4TheRight | July 18, 2007 6:12 PM

Okay, first off I'm not a fan of polls and I certainly don't look at many of them in any detail, so I have a question or two for those of you who do peruse them.

The polls of the American public that always "appear" to reflect this huge majority that want the U.S. out of Iraq....can anyone tell me exactly how those polls have been worded?

What I'm getting at is this. The Democrats have put all of their eggs in one basket and that is "The People Want Us Out." And you even hear McCain hear talk about how he is going against the will of the people.

So my question revolves around these polls themselves. In other words...if you ask an American if he/she is "sick and tired" of the War in Iraq, I can see 80% saying yes - because it has been long and with little mention of progress in the MSM. But if they ask, "Do you want the U.S. to withdraw all of our troops out of Iraq immediately?" - what are those numbers? How about to the question, " Are you more supportive of the War in Iraq now after the new strategy has started?".....

I really would love to see some specifics, because if 75% of the American people are being quoted as saying they want us to retreat now, I don't believe that. I think the American people have been fed up with lack of progress but there is a HUGE difference between someone sending a mandate for better results and surrender.

Any thoughts/quotes/poll verbage would be appreciated.

p.s. great speech, John McCain and thank you.

Posted by FredRum | July 18, 2007 7:39 PM

starfleet_dude mellowly spewed: "JEM, here's what the Pentagon itself has to say about future troop levels in Iraq"

You're a laugh riot, duuuude. The word "Pentagon" doesn't even appear in that piece. Nor do any actual names. But aside from that, you're right on the money! lol...

Try not to tell too many people what I'm about to share because this is some uber eyes-only scoop and I could probably lose my TS clearance just for telling you, but there are some much more interesting things that unknown sources are saying here and here.

Posted by Observer | July 18, 2007 7:52 PM

r has it exactly right as I see it. The most frustrating part of all for those who believed going to Iraq was a huge mistake before it ever happened is where we now find ourselves. There is no good outcome to this situation. All we are left with is the looking for the least bad outcome. Even the most ardent supporters of the whole escapade continue to lower their expectations of what would be considered a "victory". Certainly what would pass for a "victory" now would have been less than sufficient to justify the terrible costs, both current and future, had the whole equation been known at the outset.

Posted by Thomas Jackson | July 18, 2007 8:57 PM

Why is it that the League of Idiotarian Trolls keeps saying we can't keep troops in Iraq for years because it is a civil war when they had no problem about keeping troops in Bosnia indefinitely ith no end in sight while a civil war rages?

Now I realize that a favorite meme of the knee walking surrender monkeys is "civil war." They used it in Vietnam. Now the North Vietnamese are about as similiar to the Southerners as the Yankees were to the Conferates or the English to the Scots yet this never stopped the Left from using whatever canard they felt would advance their cause.

So we see them recycle the same myth. What we are facing are a bunch of foreigners and Baathists trying to incite ethnic warfare yet they have failed. If a real civil war did break out nothing could save the Sunnis. If one wants to be really reptillian lets just support the Shiites and allow the Sunnis to get what they deserve. It would send a message to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that fund and tolerate Al Queda.

Posted by exdem13 | July 18, 2007 10:18 PM

Well, docjim505 speaks for me on this subject. Good job, sir!

Posted by section9 | July 18, 2007 10:31 PM

Poor rat, he doesn't understand.

He is not at war with Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, Al Qaeda is at war with him.

This is something that the Copperheads don't understand.

Bush finally finds his Grant, and the Democrats will do anything to see Petraeus fail. Disgusting.

Posted by Trochilus | July 18, 2007 11:18 PM

He finished speaking at 4:10 am, and was followed by Hillary Clinton.

This was John's finest moment in the Senate -- so far -- one that an entire lifetime filled with some mighty fine moments indeed, had prepared him to deliver. Oddly, the calamitous consequences to John's candidacy for the Presidency over the past few weeks, may have freed him in a way to deliver this.

People will remember references to this speech for years to come.

You want to know how many will remember anything she had to say? None. Not ever.

Just imagine what it must have been like for her, getting ready to speak, and following John McCain? A little like waiting to see your last card in a game of seven stud -- with four aces up on your opponent's hand.

Posted by Rose | July 18, 2007 11:53 PM

Had McCain kept his mouth shut on all else except our military, he would be a shoe in for pres. I am baffled at how he managed to approach Kennedy spazmosity on all other subjects that he deigned to approach. Pity.

Posted by: Da Coyote at July 18, 2007 1:58 PM

Thank God that McCain did open his fat mouth on all other subjects, especially GITMO and ABU GHRAIB -

- therefore there is no doubt whatsoever that he is the man our GUTS were screaming at us he was, all along.

However, for our guys in the field, it is nice to see he can suck it up for a few moments here and there - and ALL they have to remember him by won't be the garbage he spewed about the military prisoners being so mal-treated by our guys.

Posted by Rose | July 19, 2007 12:06 AM

How would the catastrophe that follows defunding the war be different from the catastrophe we have now? Other than American service men not being killed for no good reason of course.

Posted by: ckerst at July 18, 2007 12:58 PM

Well, the good news is that the DIMS and RINOS have created such a terrible situation regarding American strength and security, that all indications are, you will get to find out personally what the big difference is.

And there will be NOBODY there to cover you for your willfull ignorance.

Your Dim Socialist friends will be incapable...

And the Conservatives will all have their doors blocked against you as well as the terrorists.

Posted by FredRum | July 19, 2007 6:22 AM

r said: Iraq was once the most secular state in the Middle East, no longer.

Don't you think you're leaving out some other very important qualifiers like "brutal", "repressive" and maybe "dictatorship"? If an archaeologist dug up your comment a million years from now they would think Iraq had been some kind of middle-eastern Luxembourg full of kite-flying children.