Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting Used To "It"

On June 13th, I posted:
Whoever sits in the Oval Office on Inauguration Day 2009 is going to own Iraq just as Nixon owned Vietnam after 1968. To be sure, the extent of that ownership -- in both the public's mind and the history books -- will depend on what happens in Iraq after 2008. But those hoping for a dramatic change in policy may be disappointed. Occupations tend to be self-perpetuating. And remember, Nixon had huge anti-Communist credibility but still felt compelled to prove his toughness once in office. If Hillary wins, will she have any less to prove as a Democrat and a woman?
The scaling back of expectations is underway. NYT:
Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home, the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years...many Democrats are increasingly taking the position, in televised debates and in sessions with voters across the country, that ending a war can be as complicated as starting one.
I think there will be two distinct periods when Americans realize with a mix of outrage, despair, and resignation that our force level in Iraq will likely remain at its pre-surge level or greater for years. The first will be next month when Petraeus reports and the Brief Candle Caucus signs on for another "six months" (Ryan Crocker is laughing in Ramadi -- we can't leave!). The second will happen if Hillary wins, the exigencies of being a Democrat and a woman prevail, and an updated version of "peace with honor" becomes the catchphrase.

Considering historical examples of other occupations, is it really that hard to imagine a time when 100,000 troops sitting in Iraq seems perfectly natural?

30 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what’s worse is the maniac who got us in the mess (that would be Bush) is likely to go down in history as a good or great president.

It seems all war mongering presidents end up being considered above average at least. Truman got us into Korea. He’s now considered great. Wilson not only invaded Mexico but he later threw us into WW1 (for no real reason) and he’s considered outstanding. LBJ and JFK got us slowly then more deeply into Vietnam and they are both considered better than average presidents.

Presidents who preserve peace - Who remembers them? Calvin Coolidge rarely shows up on lists of great presidents.

Bush will one day be considered great, probably before he’s dead.

8/14/2007 8:43 AM  
Blogger Vercules said...

Two choices America:

Ron Paul or status quo.

8/14/2007 10:49 AM  
Anonymous mary said...

Whoa. Slow down there, CR (and commenters). I think reality has a stronger foothold in Hillary Clinton's mind than you seem to believe it does. Over the past however-many months, the candidates' "plans" have actually shifted in the right direction, in a vague sort of way. (Their vagueness is sort of understandable, albeit frustrating.) Call me overly hopeful, but I think there's some chance that this shift will continue -- if only because we can't keep 100,000 troops in Iraq without ruining the military. I wish that such a shift wasn't even necessary, but . . . alas. I also wish someone would start talking about a larger vision -- about what should/could happen in Iraq and environs postwar. But I guess it's hard to have this sort of conversation when Bush is so delusional and Republicans are still attacking anyone who opposes the surge for not supporting the troops, and Dems (or a significant number of Dems, including my state's senior senator, DiFi) are still willing to fold under pressure.

8/14/2007 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Gus said...

If you're right, and Hillary is the Iraq war's Nixon, who will be the Gene McCarthy?

8/14/2007 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hagel?

8/14/2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is so great about Woodrow Wilson?

8/14/2007 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Jeff in Texas said...

This is basically what I said once the Dems rolled on the Iraq supplemental. They could have passed nothing at all from the get go, and forced a showdown over funding back in February. Or they could have said, after Bush vetoed the first bill (which had sorta, kinda, timetables and benchmarks), "no, we passed a funding bill and you killed it-- you abandoned the troops, not us." Instead they bought in, promising to "revisit" the issue down the line. Which meant never, given the political realities. Because they will not try anything radical in an election year, for starters, so that rules out 2008. And then, assuming a Dem president in 2009, what exactly is he or she going to do? Have the first act of his or her presidency be what will inevitably get characterized as the "surrender" of Iraq? So that Dems can lose one or both houses of Congress in 2010, and maybe the White House in 2012? Bush's goal now, from Iraq to warrantless wiretapping, is to (1) hand it off to the next guy without admitting failure or wrongdoing, while (2) insulating himself and his cronies from accountability (criminal, political, or otherwise). The Dems had one chance to initiate an end to this thing, and they blew it.

8/14/2007 2:27 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

...I also wish someone would start talking about a larger vision -- about what should/could happen in Iraq and environs postwar...
OK, wannabe tyrant. How about we get out and leave them the hell alone? We could probably afford to apologize for all the death and destruction also but I don't hold out much hope for that

As far as Hilary goes...meet the new boss, same as the old boss!

Anybody listen to Brown and compare his talking points to Blair's. At some point you have to wake up people. These so called "leaders" of ours are playing from a script. The only real answer to our problem to finding our who is pulling the strings of these puppets so we can hunt them down and put a bullet in their heads. That is the only thing that is going to make this situation better.

8/14/2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger Undeniable Liberal said...

THE only one in favor of getting out NOW is Kucinich, but he looks funny, so he's unelectable....sigh.

8/14/2007 5:57 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

To address the commenter who said "Bush will one day be considered great"...it depends on what comes next, I suppose. Afterall, people in Russia were looking back kindly on ol Stalin when the shit hit the fan after Gorby. This is probably less the case these days.

In any event, I think it's unlikely, and to steal a quote from James Carville (re: the legacy of Rove), I prefer to think that Bush's political grave will receive no lack of irrigation.

8/14/2007 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff in Texas:

Precisely. It is astonishing (not to mention discouraging as hell) that even after all this time Dems haven't learned the consequences of timidity and short-term thinking. It was ALWAYS vital to end Bush's war while Bush is in office. I'll be surprised if your scenario doesn't pan out.

Of course, given that, aside from a few ephemeral exceptions, the very same Dems have REFUSED to do anything to head off a genuine strategic catastrophe in Iran, maybe we won't even have to worry about elections after 2010 or so.....

On an unrelated note, I find it next to impossible to believe that we will ever see Bush nostalgia. But if the worthless little shit wanted to revive his reputation, he'd pull a Nixon-goes-to-China manuever with Tehran. Neither he nor his lickspittles have the imagination for it, though.
-- sglover

8/14/2007 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad to say but I think CR's and Jeff from Texas analysis is spot on. It was vital to end this war while Bush was in office. Never underestimate the capacity of the Dems to act lily livered and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. WHat the Dems really should be talking about is end the war and the plan to limit the collateral damage (like help those poor Iraqi translators who actually helped us and are now being left behind to be massacred). Instead the next Dem president will "act tough" and take on Bush's war as his/Hillary's own.

8/14/2007 9:59 PM  
Blogger Grace Nearing said...

In economic terms, how much longer can the US afford to stay in Iraq? The US economy that was pumping money into the Vietnam war is vastly different than the US economy that is pumping money into the Iraq war.

8/15/2007 12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well if we do not make a plan to withdraw and be out in a year, we are going to have too many problems.

1. It will brake the army
2. It will brake our economy
3. Whether we stay or go, Iraq will be continueing on its bloody path till they finally realize that they will in the end have to live together.
4. It will in the end brake us if we do not leave

THERE IS NO CHOICE, WE HAVE TO LEAVE IN ORDER TO SAVE OURSELF

8/15/2007 2:09 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Whatever Iraq is (and it's a tragic and costly mistake), it isn't the existential struggle both sides are making it out to be. The U.S. isn't facing an inexorable decline as a result of Iraq any more than we're in danger of being overrun by the terra-ists if we leave. It's not hard at all to imagine the public indefinitely stomaching 100,000 troops sitting in Iraq. The parallel I'm surprised we don't hear more about is the occupation of the Philippines - similar troop levels, similar casualty figures, prestigious antiwar movement. (Not quite the same sort of civil war-inclined local population, admittedly.) Since the public was never really invested in the conflict, it managed to push through the McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft administrations.

8/15/2007 2:49 PM  
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