Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Democratic strategy for Iraq

Gene Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Don’t hold your breath, but Democrats may be showing signs of life in the national debate over Iraq. For most of three years, including Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign, party leaders have appeared fearful of challenging George W. Bush’s belligerent bungling. They haven’t wanted voters to mistake them for George McGovern, the World War II bomber pilot and 1972 Democratic presidential candidate who made the mistake of being right about Vietnam too soon. Now that may be changing.

As recently as July, the party establishment worried that Americans couldn’t be trusted to make elementary distinctions. Writing in the Democratic Leadership Council’s Blueprint Magazine, Will Marshall opined that while "[i] ntellectually, of course, it’s possible to separate Iraq and the war on terror," Democrats needed to be wary lest voters mistake them for anti-American, hippie pacifists. "[A] s the opposition party," Marshall wrote, "Democrats have a responsibility to hold the White House accountable for the painfully high price we’ve paid in Iraq, the thousands killed and wounded, and the billions of dollars spent. But they must do so in a way that makes it clear they are rooting for America to succeed in Iraq."

Marshall urged the party to heed the example of Sens. Joe Biden, John Kerry, Evan Bayh and Hillary Rodham Clinton, "who have set an example for responsible, progressive patriotism."

Rooting for America to succeed in Iraq? As in rooting for the Chicago Cubs to win the National League Central? The bitter truth is that we’re far beyond that. Moreover, the cultural climate is very different. Try as they may, right-wing talk radio savants can’t turn a grieving mother turned anti-war protester, Cindy Sheehan, into another "Hanoi Jane" Fonda—partly because there’s no military draft, there are no mobs of "flower children" chanting slogans in support of Saddam Hussein or barbaric Iraqi insurgents.

Polls show that most Americans have made the basic distinction that DLC thinkers feared would escape them. Recent surveys show that the majority understand that invading Iraq on a false pretext has made the nation not less but more vulnerable to terrorism, weakening the U.S. military, draining the treasury, alienating America’s natural allies among the world’s democracies and sowing Arab fanaticism like dragon’s teeth.

Many see Bush’s famous "resoluteness" for what it is: a stubborn inability to admit error or to compromise with reality. And they’re beginning to wonder if it’s really possible that the U.S. will remain in Iraq indefinitely to guarantee the security of an Islamic state allied with Iran.

Meanwhile, most Democrats agree with the question put by former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart in a recent Washington Post column: "[W] hat will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on?" Many have begun to despair of leadership from the aforementioned U.S. senators, all of whom voted in favor of giving Bush a blank check to do as he pleased on Iraq back in October 2002 and can’t seem to admit they were bamboozled.

But there’s at least one name-brand Democrat who wasn’t obliged to vote in 2002, and whose patriotism is hard to question: retired Gen. Wesley Clark. Maybe that’s why the former NATO supreme commander and neophyte 2004 presidential candidate has taken the lead.

Beginning with a trenchant column in The Washington Post and a subsequent appearance on NBC News’ "Meet the Press," Clark has begun a calculated assault on the Bush administration’s Iraq policy from the right and left simultaneously. "More than half the American people now believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake," Clark writes. "They’re right. But it would also be a mistake to pull out now, or to start pulling out or to set a date certain for pulling out. Instead, we need a strategy to create a stable, democratizing and peaceful state in Iraq—a strategy the administration has failed to develop and articulate."

Clark lays down what he calls "a three-pronged strategy: diplomatic, political and military" to deal with the realities the Bush administration ignored in its half-baked belief that American invaders would be greeted by flower-throwing throngs. Almost none, frankly, has any likelihood of being enacted. Hire 10,000 Arab-American translators? Convene a regional security council to hash things out with Iraq’s neighbors, i. e., Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc.? Not gonna happen. And then? "If the administration won’t adopt a winning strategy," Clark writes, "then the American people will be justified in demanding that it bring our troops home." He doesn’t pretend that would be a good thing. Asked about the consequences of retreat in an online forum, Clark concedes that "[a] n exit that leaves behind violence, chaos and civil war will be viewed as a clear American defeat. And it will supercharge terrorist recruiting, increase problems for American diplomacy... and increase the danger closer to home."
Clark only implies that retreat could end up being the least bad option.
Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."


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