Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 10, 2007
WAR: Hillary Bugs Out...Or Does She?

Weathervane.jpgToday's NY Daily News carried an op-ed by Hillary Clinton (co-signed by whoever it is that signs stuff for Robert Byrd these days) that seems to say...well, in typical Clinton fashion, its meaning would appear to depend on the reader. Let's walk through and see if we can make sense of the words she pours past our eyes:

On Oct. 11, 2002, the Senate gave President Bush authority to use force against Iraq. Nearly five years later, it is time for Congress to say enough is enough.

The American people have waited long enough for progress in Iraq. They have waited long enough for the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future.

OK, so she is calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq? That's the position of many in her party; it's foolish in the extreme, but at least has the virtue of clarity. But if it's clarity you are expecting, you have forgotten what the Clintons are all about.

Today, more than 150,000 members of our armed forces are caught in a civil war. According to the Pentagon, overall levels of violence in Iraq have not decreased since the surge began. The last three months have been the deadliest period for American troops since the start of the war.

Note: if by "the surge" she means the expansion of the number of troops in Iraq to the cited 150,000 figure, that has only barely come on line in the past few weeks. Unfortunately, leading Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) have difficulty grasping a military strategy that requires more than one syllable to describe. The new rules of engagement have been in place since February, but the actual escalation in boots on the ground only became complete in the past month.

It is time for the waiting to end and for our troops to start to come home.

OK, withdrawal then.

That is why we propose to end the authorization for the war in Iraq. The civil war we have on our hands in Iraq is not our fight and it is not the fight Congress authorized. Iraq is at war with itself and American troops are caught in the middle.

Now, the idea that what is going on in Iraq is "civil war" is debatable as a matter of military doctrine as well as popular understanding among Iraqis, given the large areas of the country not engulfed in conflict and the absence of organized factions that are openly seeking to secede from or overturn the government. But leave that aside - there certainly is violence perpetrated by factions looking in general to undermine the government. Leave aside for now the fact that there is also substantial foreign (esp. Iranian) involvement in Iraq, and that we are fighting as well Al Qaeda in Iraq, which one would think of as an important foe to be rid of.

The fact is, while the mission endorsed by the 2002 resolution - the use of force to remove the threat presented by Saddam's regime - has long since been accomplished, a resolution authorizing an invasion always assumes that the U.S. may well stay to do post-war reconstruction, a task which has frequently throughout history involved putting down armed insurrections (ask the Congress that authorized the Spanish-American War).

At a recent Senate hearing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked if the 2002 authorization still applies to Iraq. His response was surprisingly candid: "I don't know." . . .

Well, that proves yet again why Gates is such a pathetic excuse for a spokesman for an Administration policy he shows no signs of agreeing with, but it also means he's uninformed. Argue if you like that the war is a bad idea, but it's ridiculous to contend that the Administration is proceeding without proper legal authority. In fact, that's precisely why Senator Clinton has to propose changing the law.

The 2008 defense authorization bill is now before the U.S. Senate. This legislation presents a vital opportunity for Congress to step up and force the President to change course in Iraq. Amending the bill to deauthorize the war would do exactly that. We intend to lead that effort.

"Change course"? I thought the point of this op-ed was to, well, "deauthorize the war," which would involve not doing what is no longer authorized.

If the Bush administration believes that the current war, as it is being executed, is critical to America's future, then it should make the case and let the people decide. Explain to the public why our young men and women should be sent into the middle of a fight between religious factions. Explain why we should continue to devote $10 billion each month to this fight.

"[A]s it is being executed" is another dodge here...and if the goal is to stop the war, then say you are for doing that, not merely that you want him to "explain" himself, which Heaven knows the President has done often enough, albeit rarely as well as he might have.

Prior to the vote on the original authorization of force in 2002, we worked to limit that authority to one year. Unfortunately, the amendment failed — a fact rendered all the more distressing in hindsight.

Oh, a 1-year time limit would have been a brilliant way to enter a war. Recall that many critics of the war predicted a protracted Stalingrad-style battle for Baghdad alone, with as many as 3,000 casualties, and others predicted ten times that. Recall also that many of the Democrats who supported the authorization wanted more time to first be spent trying to bluff Saddam. Can any serious person think it would have been a good thing to get into a seige situation with a ticking clock?

Anyway, the defeat of that time limit clearly shows that what Congress did authorize was more open-ended, as wars generally are.

By deauthorizing the original use-of-force resolution this year, we would put a stop to the President's failed strategy and require him to articulate a new policy that takes into account the desires of the American people, the reality in Iraq and the recommendations of military experts. . . .

Leaving entirely unsaid what that should be.

Our men and women in uniform toppled the dictator. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has established a parliament and elected a president and a prime minister. Yet our troops remain in Iraq and our President remains unmoved by any arguments to change course.

How?

Note that we have about reached the end, yet there is no discussion here at all of the regional and global consequences of withdrawal, or indeed of anything at all. It's Iraq in a Vaccuum.

As Bush admitted in his State of the Union address in January, "This is not the fight we entered in Iraq." We could not agree more. This is not the fight Congress authorized, Mr. President. If you want to continue to wage this fight, come to Congress and make your case. Otherwise, bring our troops home.

That's President Bush to you, Senator. So, are we back to bringing the troops home, or not? That depends what you want to believe - whatever it is, Senator Clinton is for it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:10 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

First, Congress, on paper, authorized us to go to war based on what we know to be bullshit. The reality is different. Congress authorized it because they didn't want to sound weak. And the administration knew it was bullshit also-at least in reality.

Second, Crank, I agree that inherent in the argument to go to war is the reconstruction. Let's face it, as Powell said, you break it you buy it. However, implicit in that is a PLAN to reconstruct. We broke it allright. Al Qaida is there now because we created the opening for them to come; we had no plan to rebuild, so what happened? A civil war. Is that something that goes on in the Arab world? Don't know. The Palestinians seem to be doing that as well, and we didn't do that; the Lebanese are clearly acting intelligently in getting rid of the troublemakers created by Iran and Hezzbollah.

Is Hillary acting in her political best interests? Yes she is, as do all the shoeflies on both sides of the aisle. So stop blaming the Clintons for everything. I think she is a very good senator for my state, and I would be happy to keep her there; I don't want her as president any more than you, but for different reasons. Iraq is in a vacuum, and we threw the switch to create it. Staying won't stop the mess; leaving means they are either going to have to solve their problems or they will all kill themselves. But if the insurgents keep killing civilians without a US military presence to blame, I bet they solve the problems pretty quickly. Bloodily too I bet.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at July 10, 2007 3:25 PM

First Daryl, I hope you get to keep her.

Second, if we pull out and Iran takes over Iraq (they will), what then? They will control the largest oil reserves in the world and will be able to control the world economy.

The actual facts are that we know for sure Iraq had WMD, they used them. That coupled with the other half dozen or so reasons stated for regime change, we have done a good thing for the region and the world. Our troop have done a WONDERFUL job and should be patted on the back every chance we get.

I personally don't agree with much of the way this conflict has been conducted, but the bottom line is a) it needed to be done
b) we have accomplished the mission
c) if we leave before the region is stable we will be back in about a decade to do the job again

I don't want my children or grandchildren to ahve to go back to this region to redo a job that can be completed now. We didn't finish the job in Gulf War I and here we are back trying to finish it now. Let's get it done right this time.

Posted by: maddirishman at July 10, 2007 4:10 PM

No to belabor the point but the WMDs they used were the ones Ronnie and Donnie sold them back in the day. Back when they were our ally. Or something like that.

Posted by: jim at July 10, 2007 5:33 PM

Daryl: "Is Hillary acting in her political best interests? Yes she is, as do all the shoeflies on both sides of the aisle."

Not true. John McCain, is taking a principled stand that we must remain in Iraq, even though that position is killing him in the polls. Others -- I think Russ Feingold -- came out against the war before it was launched even though, at the time, the majority of the country supported invasion.

Crank isn't "blaming the Clintons for everything;" if someone is running for President of the United States and she refuses to be pinned down on the most important issue facing the nation, that fact reflects on her ability to lead.

I would rather have you as President. I don't agree with your premise that our case for going to war was "bullshit," but at least I know that you believe it, that your belief seems genuine and that, in four months, you won't be denying you believe it because the opinion polls moved.

Posted by: WD at July 10, 2007 5:58 PM

What, a politician acting in her own political self-interest? Outrageous! Joe Biden is the only straight shooter in the Democratic race, the only one that keeps raising the question, "then what?". He's going nowhere. The Clintons are just damn good politicians, they know how to play the game as it is, get over it already.

Posted by: Rene at July 10, 2007 6:17 PM

Well, I do agree that McCain and Biden are straight shooters. Think about it, they are both candidates that are considered unviable, and all they do is say what they think and do what they say. Sad commentary on we the people I guess.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at July 10, 2007 6:26 PM

I don't want my children or grandchildren to ahve to go back to this region to redo a job that can be completed now.

So I suppose you'll be enlisting this afternoon then, Maddirish. Good luck; you stay safe over there.

We didn't finish the job in Gulf War I and here we are back trying to finish it now. Let's get it done right this time.

"We," "we" and "let's."

I agree. "We" better really pitch in. I know you're probably a bit older than the average soldier, but I'm sure you can win the war for "us" if you really try hard. Again, good luck. "We" are all pulling for you.

* * *

Before anyone comes back with the same old tired arguments, remember this: the majority of Americans want the war to end. Those who insist that they know better than the rest of us should get their own damn boots on the ground.

You people will all look just as stubborn and misguided as those who supported the Vietnam War post-1968 look today. Think about that.

Posted by: Mike at July 11, 2007 6:58 AM

Mike:

The majority of Americans want the war to end. They also want low taxes and all their entitlements. Good government without having to know the name of the Vice-President, let alone that of the chairman of the FCC or the Federal Reserve.
The only reason most people are against the war is because it's lost and Americans can't stand a loser. If the great Decider had decided to listen to his generals and was winning the war, everyone would be for the war. All the lies, manipulation, abuse of power, violations of civil liberties, corruption, criminal acts and dirty tricks would be footnotes, known to only a few and getting zero traction with the citizens.
I'm willing to bet that we are at war with Iran before the next President's term is over, regardless of who gets elected, I give you 3-1 odds. Just because Bush and the neo-cons are a bunch of incompetent, corrupt, jerks, doesn't mean the wolf is not at the door. In fact, because they are all those things and more, they have handed Iran most of Iraq and made them into the big dog in the middle east. They won't stop there and sooner or later, we will be at war with them.

Posted by: Rene at July 11, 2007 8:58 AM

You people will all look just as stubborn and misguided as those who supported the Vietnam War post-1968 look today. Think about that.

And "you" people look as naive and misguided as those who cut off military support to the South Vietnamese government in the 1970s.

What is most telling about the Vietnam parallel is the determination of the left to follow the same script: Get the U.S. out and let the killing fields follow.

Posted by: Henry at July 11, 2007 9:44 AM

"Before anyone comes back with the same old tired arguments, remember this: the majority of Americans want the war to end."

What nonsense. In 1942, 1943, 1944 etc, most Americans wanted a war to end. Here is a news flash for ya. War is never popular. There are times (before any blood is shed) that you can have a large majority who understand that military action is necessary. However, once blood is shed and the war drags on the percentage supporting the decisions starts going down. Also, I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the various polls. As we all know it is all in how the question is asked. If you ask "Do you want the war to end?" I would hope nearly 100% respond YES. If the question is "Do you want to abandon Iraq and just hope things turn out okay when their crazy neighbor comes to visit?" I assume we'd see a different percentage in favor. There are a hundred more honest ways to ask the question than just do you want the war to end.

Posted by: largebill at July 11, 2007 10:40 AM

Now, the idea that what is going on in Iraq is "civil war" is debatable as a matter of military doctrine...

No it's not. The threshold for what constitutes a "civil war" is low. That you can argue that it's not based on the fact that the term "civil war" has a fairly loose definition does not make the matter "debatable."

Posted by: Xanthippas at July 13, 2007 6:53 AM

Also, I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the various polls. As we all know it is all in how the question is asked. If you ask "Do you want the war to end?" I would hope nearly 100% respond YES. If the question is "Do you want to abandon Iraq and just hope things turn out okay when their crazy neighbor comes to visit?" I assume we'd see a different percentage in favor. There are a hundred more honest ways to ask the question than just do you want the war to end.

Well, yes there are. For example, you could frame it this way: "Do you favor a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq that will leave the country vulnerable to becoming an Islamic Caliphate under the rule of Osama bin Laden, a man determined to spread Islamic rule throughout the world?"

Now, do you see why it's hard for anybody to say "yes" to that, or to your framed question above? If you don't, then there's no point in me explaining it.

The question being asked in polls is usually a version of "Do you favor withdrawal from Iraq?", not "Do you hate war?" The answer is pretty clear.

Posted by: Xanthippas at July 13, 2007 6:57 AM
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