Now What?

With George Bush delivering only the second veto of his presidency, the question of funding the mission in Iraq became even more acute. Eighty-six days after the start of the 110th Congress, the military still has not received funding for operations in Iraq this year, and the process has to start from Square One while the Pentagon has to start juggling the books:

President Bush vetoed a $124 billion measure yesterday that would have funded overseas military operations but required him to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq as early as July, escalating the most serious confrontation between the White House and Congress over war policy in a generation.
Bush carried through on his veto threat just after the legislation arrived at the White House, calling the timetable a “prescription for chaos and confusion” that would undercut generals. “Setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments,” he said last night. “Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure.”
Democratic congressional leaders cast the veto as willful defiance of the American people. “The president wants a blank check,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said just minutes after Bush’s statement. “The Congress is not going to give it to him.” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said that “if the president thinks that by vetoing this bill he will stop us from trying to change the direction of this war, he is mistaken.”

At some point, a compromise has to be reached — but it cannot take the form of mandated timetables for withdrawal. The British did that in Basra, and the result has been the formation of militias and internecine fighting in a region homogenous to Shi’ites. Imagine what would happen in the melting pot of Baghdad, let alone the al-Qaeda theater of operations in Baghdad. Announcing withdrawal dates only emboldens those who oppose the democratically-elected government of Iraq and encourages the rest to choose the least-egregious warlord to obey.
One point raised in the Washington Post article that might provide an opening is the question of aid to the Iraqi government. That aid which works for issues other than security could get suspended if the National Assembly doesn’t get busy passing the necessary reforms in oil revenue and de/re-Baathification. That would allow us to continue pressing forward on our security strategies while holding Baghdad accountable for lack of progress on political reform. In the past three years, we have spent more that $5 billion in non-military aid in Iraq. That kind of money should give us some leverage with the politicians.
Pressuring the Iraqi government makes sense. It forces them to focus on the tasks at hand and pushes them towards reconciliation amongst the ethicities, rather than triumphalism and vengeance. An approach which does that without hampering our ability to stabilize Baghdad and kill al-Qaeda terrorists in Anbar and Diyala should be strongly considered.
But we cannot allow Congress to dictate the terms of surrender to the American armed forces engaged with the enemy. We cannot withdraw from Iraq — again — only to be forced to return later to finish what we started in 1991. We cannot allow al-Qaeda and its affiliates to create a base of operations in Iraq the way they did in Afghanistan, unless we want a repeat of 9/11. Bush has to remain strong on those principles while finding ways to pressure the Iraqi government for reform in the manner Democrats want. That should be the basis of any compromise on the issue.

24 thoughts on “Now What?”

  1. I propose that the President immediately begin to withdraw monies from military projects in Democratic controlled areas, canceling contracts with firms run by Democrat spouses of Congresscritters, suspending indefinitely pet projects scheduled to start in Democrat Senator home towns, etc… I have several suggestions. (and they never will be missed. They never, will, be, missed. –Gilbert and Sullivan)

  2. First Cup 05.02.07

    Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis – a good hot cup of coffee. ~ Alexander King

  3. I don’t remember ever seeing so many “we cannot” in a Captain post. Actually, I’m afraid that on all of the points raised – “we can”.
    Sometime before the next election there will be major draw down of the U.S. presence in Iraq. The Bush administration made a number of mistakes in Iraq. The worst mistake was not recognizing the political fact that Americans would not tolerate a seemingly endless, costly occupation. A solid win was necessary, even if that involved cross-border skirmishes with Syria and Iran.
    We can only hope that since 9/11, both short and long-term strategies and tactics have been developed and implemented to fight the Jihadi threat without a stable Iraq. I doubt that they have, but IF they have, it would behoove the Bush administration to have them fully operational before the end of 2008. It’s doubtful that a Democrat Congress and President will pull the trigger on any aggressive activities. The Dems are now a party committed to a major standdown to see if the Jihadi threat is actually real.

  4. I remember exactly where I was when I heard Kennedy had been shot, when I
    heard Elvis was gone, when I heard Challenger had exploded, and when I first saw
    that “Last Helicopter” picture on the front of The Daily Texan. The other
    incidents left me sad; the Helicopter picture left me mad as Hell. Our Iraq vets
    deserve better (but then, so did we.) No soldier deserves to come back from a
    war to be told "Oh, never mind, it wasn’t important. Thanks for your time
    anyway. Sorry your friends died for nothing." No Gold Star parent needs to be
    told "Never mind. It wasn’t important to begin with. Sorry about that." At least
    Charlie didn’t follow us home; the jihadis will, and I hope when the heads start
    rolling some key Dhimmicrats are first in line.

    I added an excerpt and link to my

    2007.05.02 Dem Perfidy // Islamism Delenda Est Roundup

  5. Cap’n Ed wrote:
    We cannot allow al-Qaeda and its affiliates to create a base of operations in Iraq the way they did in Afghanistan, unless we want a repeat of 9/11.
    It’s ironic that the dems, who from time to time have wailed that WE were responsible for the Taliban because we didn’t (somehow) move to “stablize” A-stan after the Soviet withdrawal, now want to deliberately do the same thing in Iraq. Morons.
    Part of the problem is that too many Americans regard Iraq as a sort of “voluntary” war, almost like a scrimage that we didn’t really have to play and can quit without penalty if we get tired of it. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a common theme in our history. The yankee occupation of the South after the Civil War can be looked upon as a “failure” in that it didn’t really destroy the ante bellum Southern power structure, didn’t end the oppression the the Negroes, and didn’t stamp out the white “terrorist” groups like the KKK. It was basically a very half-hearted effort, and one could make the argument that the yankees gave up too soon. The only reason that the American people acquiesced to the ongoing occupation of Germany, Japan and Italy after World War II as well as the ongoing occupation of South Korea after the Korean War was the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Too many Americans simply don’t see the terrorists as a threat of the same magnitude and therefore aren’t willing to make much sacrifice to deal with it.
    Too bad. Less than six years after 9-11, it is really too bad.

  6. You know what I think of when I read posts like this attempting to generate support for Bush’s war? A kid trying to pound a square peg into a round hole, just thinking to himself that he hits it a little bit harder the damn thing will fit.

  7. The original KKK was only a “terrorist” group? Well, they certainly were not the Southern Benevolent Society. By any reasonable definition of the word, they were definitely a terrorist group, no scare quotes needed.

  8. It seems abundantly clear that half of the country is demanding more evidence that jihadis are a major threat to the United States. If they are able to change current policy and we get hit again I’d say that this makes them complicit in the hypothetical attack. It is not the kind of “I told you so” that I ever want to say. Wake up!

  9. According to Pelosi, we can’t expect this until the first hundred days have passed — it wasn’t on her list of important legislation she said the new Congress needed to pass.
    Maybe it’s been added — after all, she did read the first go-around verrry carrrefullly — after she voted in favor of it.
    Interesting — not since the Revolutionary War have we had a Congress unable (or, in this case, unwilling) to fund troops in battle.
    Georgfelis,
    Why should Bush stoop to the level of his adversaries? Some of those contracts may be important, and canceling them would be like shooting one’s self in the foot. Let’s leave that stuff to the Democrats — we should be above it.

  10. Iraqis are not going to follow us home. Al qaeda will always try to follow us home, and that fight will continue even when the majority of troops have been pulled from Iraq.
    “honoring the fallen” should never be a primary reason for more honorable to fall. Having recently watch the McNamera film “Fog of War,” it was dismaying to see how early the Pentagon realized what the endgame would be, but few had the balls to do anything about it. As painful as it is to say, a majority of Americans (if you want to believe polls) do see Iraq as a mistake, do not see it as the primary front in the GWAT, and do not see victory as it was promised as achievable. And the reason for this majority is not the people that have been steadily against the war, but the people who once supported it that have now changed their minds. Those people are going to be hard to get back.
    Since you brought up the Washington Post, Captain, in today’s Post I was amazed to see the mention that Condi Rice is going to meet with Syria’s foreign minister, quite surprising given the venom aimed at Pelosi just a couple of weeks ago.

  11. So, Ed’s question is “Now What?”
    The answer is “The Blue Dog Democrats put an end to this farce before the party claims 100% ownership of the failures in Iraq. They will send the President *exactly* what he wants because at this point they have no choice.”
    The more pragmatic Dems know that they are very close to being politically finished as a party for a generation. They are standing on the edge, about to fall into the pit. Granted, I would like for them to put up a fight just long enough for the Pentagon briefings to start rolling in stating they have no funds for troops, training, armor, vehicles, and weapons and seeing their 08′ hopes drop to single digits a the reports blanket the nightly news.
    But unlike the Dems, I understand that politics can’t play a part in this. We have troops in harm’s way and funding for that effort should be off limits. They need the money without strings and without a declaration of surrender.
    The Democrats have at least some idea how much this has already hurt them in ’08. This is why you’re seeing them head to the White House to “discuss the matter with the President” when the reality is he *will* get everything he wants and frankly must have: funding for the troops in a time of war with no restrictions.
    Any other outcome is the end of the Democrats. They know this. Wouldn’t it be nice to see this funding bill signed into law on Memorial Day weekend?

  12. georgfelis wrote (May 2, 2007 08:43 AM):
    I propose that the President immediately begin to withdraw monies from military projects in Democratic controlled areas, canceling contracts with firms run by Democrat spouses of Congresscritters, suspending indefinitely pet projects scheduled to start in Democrat Senator home towns, etc…
    I like the way you think, but rest assured that it would be spun against the president. Remember back during Slick Willie’s term when the GOP in Congress “shut down” the government? It would be the same now: Bush would be the petulant one. Right now, however, I’m feeling pretty damned petulant, myself.
    Bill Faith wrote (May 2, 2007 09:10 AM):
    No soldier deserves to come back from a war to be told “Oh, never mind, it wasn’t important. Thanks for your time anyway. Sorry your friends died for nothing.” No Gold Star parent needs to be told “Never mind. It wasn’t important to begin with. Sorry about that.”
    Like the filthy dems care! Remember, they are the ones who’ve variously compared our troops to the Gestapo, or outright called them murderers, or accused them of terrorizing Iraqi women and children in the dead of night, or dupes who only joined the military because of economic desperation, or just plain dumb. Do you think the dems really give a damn about dead or wounded GI’s? They’ve openly crowed about building greater majorities in Congress on their graves.
    They are the worst scum this country has seen since the Civil War. Absolute trash, the lot of them.
    nolakola wrote (May 2, 2007 01:20 PM):
    Since you brought up the Washington Post, Captain, in today’s Post I was amazed to see the mention that Condi Rice is going to meet with Syria’s foreign minister, quite surprising given the venom aimed at Pelosi just a couple of weeks ago.
    I guess you didn’t get the memo: Rice is the Secretary of State. It’s her job to talk to other countries, even ones we don’t like. As a personal matter, I think it’s a mistake to talk to the Syrians unless it’s to issue an ultimatum: stop supporting terrorists or learn the true meaning of “terror” when the USAF comes a-callin’.
    Lightwave wrote (May 2, 2007 01:55 PM):
    The more pragmatic Dems know that they are very close to being politically finished as a party for a generation. They are standing on the edge, about to fall into the pit. Granted, I would like for them to put up a fight just long enough for the Pentagon briefings to start rolling in stating they have no funds for troops, training, armor, vehicles, and weapons and seeing their 08′ hopes drop to single digits a the reports blanket the nightly news.
    I wish I could agree, but I can’t. First of all, I don’t think there are any “pragmatic dems”, or if there are, they’ve been bought off by Commissar Pelosi, Field Marshall al-Murtha, and Grand Admiral Reid. The dems have decided that, in the interests of getting big contributions from uber-lefties like Soros and winning future elections, they’ve got to torpedo the war effort. In short, their “pragmatic” calculation is that a US defeat in Iraq is a victory for them.
    Even if the troops suffer, the media will gladly spin it as Bush’s fault: if ONLY he’d signed the bill to fund the troops! And if the troops DO suffer… Well, I don’t think any dems will lose sleep over it. What’s a few thousand dead GI’s, more or less?
    As for their poll numbers dropping in the single digits… Read the comments by our resident lib quislings. They LIKE when the dems in Congress are doing, and want more of it. As I’ve written before, the libs in this country would gladly turn it over to bin Laden tomorrow if he promised to behead George Bush first.
    Bender wrote (May 2, 2007 10:17 AM):
    The original KKK was only a “terrorist” group? Well, they certainly were not the Southern Benevolent Society. By any reasonable definition of the word, they were definitely a terrorist group, no scare quotes needed.
    I put the word “terrorists” in quotes because I don’t think that it was a commonly used word when the KKK was at the height of its odious powers. But I absolutely agree with you: it and similar organizations are terrorist groups, no doubt about it.

  13. By the fall of 2008, Iraq will have deteriorated futher into chaos, as there’s no doubt now that Bush’s “surge” has no hope of success there. Like it or not, Iraq is in a state of civil war and if Republicans think its good for them to back Bush for the rest of his term in office, there will be a Democratic landslide in 2008 to repudiate the GOP. A more prudent President would recognize reality and start cutting America’s losses, but that’s something Bush will never do since in his eyes leaders never admit to making mistakes. I couldn’t care less about how Bush sees himself, but you’d think the GOP would see the writing on the wall in Iraq and eventually decide that they aren’t the party of Bush any longer.

  14. Nice little crystal ball act there, SFD.
    Since Iraq is not currently in chaos (it has to be quite well ordered for you to get any infromation out of it, you know), and early signs from the surge show it getting better from where it is, I see fall of 2008 with much less pessimism (or is that optimism for you?).
    Also, I think you have a wrong word choice in there. If there is a recient president that could never admit to making mistakes, that would be Clinton. Bush seems if anything overenthusiastic about admiting mistakes (probably has something to do with that born again thing).

  15. Count to 10, here’s a report about life in Iraq’s “Red Zone” from a journalist who, unlike Senator John McCain, had no protection on his tour around Baghdad:

    Baghdad up close and personal

    An excerpt:

    There may not be as many sports utility vehicles with tinted windows whose occupants distribute Kalashnikov rounds at random – or as many car bombs in markets. But the overwhelming majority of Baghdadis, Sunni or Shi’ite, have absolutely no trust in the capacity of the Maliki government to minimally assure their security.

    Abdul Samad Sultan, minister of migrations, insists that over 1,000 self-exiled families have returned to their neighborhoods, mostly in Madaen, Mahmoudiya and Shaab. But that’s nothing compared to figures in a recent report by the non-governmental organization International Medical Corps, according to which 540,000 Iraqis had fled their homes from the February 2006 bombing of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra to early 2007. Eighty percent of these – as can be easily confirmed in Damascus – are from Baghdad.

    Every Sunni one talks to accuses the Mehdi Army of chasing them out of formerly mixed neighborhoods, while in Yarmouk hardcore Sunnis of the Islamic Party are advancing their ethnic cleansing of Shi’ites. Until recently, a gruesome ritual was being performed in Yarmouk – the showing off of the cadavers of the day at noon, or guerrillas telling families to look for their relatives as if they were in Bala, a well-known second-hand market (“you look inside the bags, and you can match an arm with another, or a leg with a foot”).

    In explosive al-Amriya, in west Baghdad, flags of the Islamic Emirate of Iraq are on full display, and the writing is – literally – on the walls: “Long live al-Qaeda.” Women are being forced to wear the niqqab – which covers the whole face – and gloves at all times, and some women have already been executed, accused of spying. All across town war widows – women who traditionally were supposed to stay at home raising the family – now have become mechanics, parking valets or electronic appliance repairers.

    Sunni Heitein and mixed Sunni-Shi’ite al-Ameel are adjacent neighborhoods. The ethnic cleansing of Ameel has been persistent for the past four months. It all started – as almost everything in Iraq – as a tribal conflict, between the Sunni al-Janabi tribe and the Shi’ite al-Megasis tribe. Fighting with Kalahsnikovs, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades would go on all day, even during the Friday jumma prayers. In the end, Sunnis were forced to leave Ameel for good. The neighborhood became a ghost town, now virtually sealed off by the Iraqi Army. Iraq’s per capita annual income plunged from $3,600 in 1980 – when Iraq was still a model developing country – to $860 in 2001 after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, to $530 at the end of 2003. Now it may be even lower than $400. Unemployment is at 60%. Thieves are desperate: there are not many more flush Iraqis left to plunder. The only lucrative business is to kidnap and resell foreigners.

  16. Count to 10, pretending that things are going to somehow get better in Iraq thanks to Bush’s “surge” is so much wishful thinking.

  17. Starfleet,
    I refer you to the cnn website, in the very first article at the top of the page.
    The title “No Safe Way for US to leave “No Safe Way for US to leave
    Experts warn that pulling out of Iraq could trigger catastrophe, affecting not just Iraq but its neighbors in the ME, with far reaching global implications. Note the wording “could trigger”. This would mean that such a catastrophe has not yet occured, meaning that as it stands now the situation is better than that.
    From the article:
    Sectarian violence could erupt on a scale never seen before in Iraq if coalition troops leave before Iraq’s security forces are ready. Supporters of al Qaeda could develop an international hub of terror from which to threaten the West. And the likely civil war could draw countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran into a broader conflict.
    Right now we’re having a debate about whether there is even a civil war in Iraq. If we were to pullout the sectarian violence could be on a scale never before seen in Iraq. According to the experts, including Michael Ware who said it woudl be insanity to pull out and that results of the pull out would be catastrophic. And he is currently in the mx saying how bad it is. When he says the results woudl be catastrophic that means catastrophic in comparison to what its like now which he has termed as pretty bad as it is.
    Why then would you counsel an action that even Michael Ware would call you crazy for suggesting?

  18. When will the Maliki government stand up and be counted? Iraq is a huge welfare state, where Americans do all the security,rebuilding, etc. Why should the Iraqis lift a finger to do anything? Let the Americans do it. Bush is a fool who’d keep us in Iraq for eternity. Only the Iraqis can fix Iraq. Even Petraeus says we can’t stabalize Iraq with just military efforts. Set some freaking benchmarks for Maliki, give our troops the funds, and tell Maliki if the benchmarks aren’t met, were gone. But no, all the braindead neo-cons on this site would rather rip Pelosi, than expect Maliki to get off his dead ass and get a poitical settlement started. Why aren’t you people MAD AT MALIKI? You people would rather find something to hate democrats about. No wonder the gop is sinking. What you gonna do, go down with the ship with captain bush? He’s in a bubble, his party doesn’t control congress anymore, the majority of Americans are sick of this ill-conceived war and their sick of that boob in the white house. And just so you know I love Nancy Pelosi, and respect her.

  19. I repeat:
    Sectarian violence could erupt on a scale never seen before in Iraq if coalition troops leave before Iraq’s security forces are ready. Supporters of al Qaeda could develop an international hub of terror from which to threaten the West. And the likely civil war could draw countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran into a broader conflict.
    That is what you and the trolls like you are counseling. Every time Michael WaYAH comes on CNN and says how bad it is trolls like you come on and say “See, its a civil war”. Michael WaYAH is telling everyone that as bad as it is now, if we pulled out it would be violence on a scale “never before seen” in Iraq. And that’ s what you and your ilk are trying to achieve. Not only an american loss, but an Al Qaeda victory as well as a genocide of Iraqis on a scale “never before seen”. All because you think Bush is a boy king.

  20. Experts warn that pulling out of Iraq could trigger catastrophe, affecting not just Iraq but its neighbors in the ME, with far reaching global implications. Note the wording “could trigger”. This would mean that such a catastrophe has not yet occured, meaning that as it stands now the situation is better than that.
    jr565, I have no doubt that the U.S. is keeping a lid on a boiling cauldron in Iraq, but at some point the lid is going to blow off anyway, unless the U.S. commits to a perpetual occupation of Iraq.

  21. First off, your argument leaves out the fact that we have term limits in this country. Despite your characterization of bush as a boy king, he in fact will leave the office once his term runs out and then someone will replace him. Therefore the concpey of a “perpetual” occupation is completely flawed unless perpetual means up to 8 years. If cliont or obama or Edwards or Kucinich are lucky enough to win the white house, coudn’t they simply end the war or occupation immediately?
    If by our occupation we are keeping a lid on a boiling cauldron,and the alternative is to take the lid off and let the cauldron run over then you have to weigh the cost of keeping the lid on and not keeping the lid on. If keeping the lid on means we fight Al Qaeda, and build a govt despite some small loss of life on our part and the situation never rises beyond a civil war, where people debate whetehr in fact there is a civil war, and taking the lid off means catastrophe with far reachign global implications why would it be smart to suggest pulling the lid off? Clearly the cost of keeping the lid on is less than the cost of taking the lid off.
    And by the way, were we to take the lid off would that be the end of the story, or would we then have to deal as a country with the consequences of allowing Iraq and the ME to turn into a catastrophe with far reaching global implications. Low level civil war vs. catastrophe with far reaching globall implications. One sounds a bit worse than the other.
    I also can’t really get past the utter short sightedness of the dems here. Ok, so according to you, the lids going to blow off anyway so might as well get it over with. Meanwhile the dems are trying to take back the white house in two years. If there is the catastrophe with global implications which occurs, wont it be something that they will have to deal with on their watch? And wont they take the reponsibility for taking a bad situation and turning it into a catastrophe?

  22. Capn: either we offer unconditional commitment to victory, or we’re betraying our allies and our troops. If we’re drawing a line in the sand and saying “no farther” we’re no better than Murtha.
    “pretending that things are going to somehow get better in Iraq thanks to Bush’s “surge” is so much wishful thinking.”
    I can quote one source who sees things somehow getting better in Iraq thanks to the US surge:
    “There may not be as many sports utility vehicles with tinted windows whose occupants distribute Kalashnikov rounds at random – or as many car bombs in markets.”
    but of course that doesn’t count, because the zeitgeist is still awful. None of the critical yardsticks of our defeat count once they’re overcome.
    ” Even Petraeus says we can’t stabalize Iraq with just military efforts. Set some freaking benchmarks for Maliki, give our troops the funds, and tell Maliki if the benchmarks aren’t met, were gone.”
    Maybe you hadn’t noticed, your party says we’ll go whether or not they’re met.

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