You’ve caught the firetruck. Now what?

I’d like to commend Ralph Peters’s most recent column to your attention (hat tip: Austin Bay). In the column Peters gives a little unsolicited advice to the Democratic leaders who’ve taken control of the Congress after 12 years in the wilderness.

A few things in the column caught my eye. For example

Most Dem leaders realize that, with just a few missteps, Iraq could become their debacle. Their problem is that they never formulated a serious plan for Iraq. All rhetoric and no specifics, they just ran against the administration’s bungling.

The Democrats do have a plan. It’s called “phased re-deployment”. It calls for removing most of our forces from Iraq by the middle of 2007, re-deploying them variously stateside, to Afghanistan (where they’ll be handy targets for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda raiders who flee across the Pakistan border), to an unnamed neighboring country (if any will have them after we’ve abandoned what friends of the United States still remain in Iraq).

And this:

Now that they’ve won on the issue, the Dems would like Iraq to just go away.

I don’t think the Democrats are alone in this. I think that the Republicans and most Americans would just like Iraq to go away. I will be very surprised if the Republican response to their losses on Tuesday will be to call for victory in Iraq. I think they’ll want to get U. S. forces in Iraq off the front page by 2008.

Unfortunately, even if our forces currently in Iraq go away, our interests in the region won’t. These interests include the sometimes cozy sometimes tense relationships that the governments in the region have with their own violent Islamists, Israel, and, of course, oil. Simply decamping will weaken our hand in ensuring all of these.

I think that Peters’s concluding adivce is sound:

Advice to the Dems: You’ve won. Congratulations. Now get your extremists under control and assess Iraq honestly. And don’t just mew about supporting our troops – do it.

Advice to the Bush administration: Don’t take desperate measures in Iraq without thinking them all the way through. Mr. President, sit down one-on-one with the two- stars who command or commanded in Iraq – the fighting generals – without any Defense Department apparatchiks manipulating what you hear. Listen to the unfiltered truth.

Advice to Sen. McCain: Ask the tough questions before either the administration or the Democrats on the Hill make a bad situation worse in Iraq. Our government needs adult supervision. You’re it.

6 comments… add one
  • Bill Link

    I don’t know if it’s because he is running, but McCain has struck me as less than ideal with his approach to Iraq. He sounds like Leiberman, and, well, that says it all in my book. Rhetoric calling for 100,000 more troops is simlpy that, rhetoric. It is not possible and, at this stage of the game, unlikely to actually help bring about a stable regime in Iraq. We may have reached a tipping point in Iraq–meaning the likelihood of stabilizing the country has dropped to single or low double digits. If that is the case, I don’t see how keeping our boots on the ground actually is better than phased redeployment (foreign policy can’t be based on best-case scenarios, as we should have learned by now).

    Bottom line is the administration has botched not one but two regime change missions and the members of Congress (Rep and Dem alike), plus the 2008 candidates, are the ones left to deal with both. McCain’s stale approach to Iraq, which sounds basically like Bush with more, magical troops (from whence they will come I don’t know), doesn’t strike me as the ideal choice to ‘supervise’ anyone. And the fact that he is running has seemed to make matters worse.

  • I think your judgment is sound, Bill. We differ on some matters of proportion. I think that tragic as they are the level of casualties we’re taking in Iraq are tolerable, that maintaining a substantial military presence there is the only leverage we have and the only way to exert any control whatever over the situation there, and that all of our other interests in the region will suffer if we leave Iraq.

  • Hi Dave,

    Why should the Dems have a plan again? None of them are the Commander in Chief and head of the Unitary Executive. Seems to me they don’t need a plan until 2008 – by which time Bush will have had 2 more years of opportunity to solve or make a mess of things. Until then, all they need to have is realistic criticism of and advice for any new Bush plan, to make sure it isn’t as damn stupid as the last one. Isn’t that their correct job as majority party in both houses when they don’t actually control the administration?

    Bush and the Republicans got everyone into the mess in Iraq and are now demanding that the Dems solve their intractable Gordian Knot for them. So are you and Ralph Peters. How does that work again? It’s intellectually and politically dishonest to a breathtaking level. Let’s hear what the new Bush plan is, then work from there.

    Come to that, what would your plan be? Or mine. Or Ralph Peters. Seems to me those are as relevant a set of questions as asking what the Dems’ current plan is.

    Regards, Cernig

  • Chris Link

    The Democrats do have a plan. It’s called “phased re-deployment”. It calls for removing most of our forces from Iraq by the middle of 2007, re-deploying them variously stateside, to Afghanistan (where they’ll be handy targets for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda raiders who flee across the Pakistan border…

    Er, I’d suggest that not only are US forces more than a match for Taliban and Al-Qaeda raiders, but that their additional presence in Afghanistan could actually help start to bring the country back from rising levels of unrest.

  • anna Link


    The rightwing position is always that US troops are targets for bad guys. That’s what they were saying when there were calls for more troops in Iraq over 3 years ago when they could have done some good.

    The right’s heroes are John Wayne and Sylvestor Stallone, both sat out their appropiate wars. In 2000 they called McCain a North Vietnmese agent, although I don’t like Kerry much and he is pompous about his war driving around in a lightly armored boat on those canals and rivers was dangerous, still was running towards enemy fire when many companies called in air or artillery. The rights true glory is Max Cleland. He won the Silver Star for volunteering for Khe Sanh and rescusing wounded under fire. THe right ignored this and focused on an incident where he or someone in his platoon dropped a grenade and he became crippled. THe right’s position was that George Bush was more of a hero than he was because George didn’t waste the taxpayers money in that way.

    The right hates the troops, notive how they tried to keep from giving the VA money for Iraqi veterans. Naturally people like Rish believe the troops are ineffectual like hem and will be beat up by the Taliban.

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