Thursday, January 25, 2007

Musing on Iraq...

Many on the right blast Congressional opposition to bush's surge, arguing that Congress has no power to micromanage the war effort. Yet, if that were so, how would one explain Bush needing to have the Senate approve his nominating Petraeus to command American forces in Iraq? Wouldn't picking the generals who command the troops in the field fall under Bush's constitutionally-dictated role of Commander-in-Chief? Conversely, if it is recognized that Bush needs Senate approval for his commanders in the field, it isn't too far a stretch to where he would need Congressional approval for the number of troops those generals are to command.

If Congress is so dead set against Bush's supposed 'surge', then why are they going ahead and approving Petraeus's nomination, given that Petraeus approves of the surge? Why not simply turn down every nomination Bush sends until he sends someone who doesn't want more troops in Iraq?

Back to the right, there are those who claim the Congressional action to oppose Bush's surge gives encouragement to the enemy. Man, do these people overestimate the overseas Q ratings of Congress. I know it's fashionable to think that we lost the Vietnam war because the North Vietnamese were so inspired by the anti-war protests, but - and I say this as someone who hasn't been in battle - since battles are won or lost by the guys in the field, and not by the guys reading newspapers and watching TV back in their comfy offices, I wonder how much the anti-war protests of the 60s registered with the NVA and Viet Cong who were getting their butt kicked on a daily basis by US forces. Thus, I wonder how much all of what is going on in Washington is inspiring the terrorists in the field to go out on their suicide runs and their attacks on US forces - it's one thing to have commanders tell you victory is just around the corner, but when the enemy shows no sign of slackening their attack, I have to assume that the guys in the field are going to start discounting as propaganda what they're being fed by their commanders. So I would discount the impact that Congressional opposition and assorted anti-war protests are going to have on the insurgents being hunted down and killed by US forces.

And as far as the almost total lack of public support for Bush's proposed surge, to paraphrase the old adage, 'if stupidity is defined as doing the same thing and expecting a different result, if people think you're doing the same thing, they're going to think of you as stupid'. All people have heard over the past few weeks is 'I'm sending more troops to Iraq'... and that is nothing different from what we have heard many, many, many times before during this conflict. The American people heard nothing about changing tactics, we heard nothing about Bush doing anything different than what he has been doing... other than, of course, his sending more troops... which, of course, is nothing that we haven't heard before. And sure Bush has nominated another general to take charge, but that too is nothing he hasn't done before. While the anti-war liberals would object to anything Bush proposed short of a complete and immediate withdrawal, and principled conservatives such as myself object to Bush's plans because we think he is tilting at windmills in thinking that he has any chance of turning Iraq into a peaceful beacon of hope for all of the world, there are an awful lot of people in this country who would support Bush... but only if they thought he had his act together. Had Bush sold the troop surge as merely a component of a revamped strategy, then the American people would have been much more supportive. Had he laid out a new battle plan, the American people might have given him the opportunity to make it work. But he didn't do that, and, as a result, the American people are left with no other thought than 'more Americans in Iraq, more American lives down the drain'...