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New York Times: It's Time to Come Home

The New York Times in an editorial today says we have to begin redeployment of troops from Iraq and end the war.

It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.

It's a sobering piece. The Times opines it's not as simple as just coming home. Logistics won't be easy and we may need to use other country's bases to effectuate it. It's a process that will take months. Which is why the Times says we have to set a date now.

The Times is justifiably harsh in its criticism of Bush:


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On Iraq: The Time Is Now

In a very good post, MissLaura discusses Harry Reid's determination to end the war in Iraq, as reported by the NYTimes:

Democratic voters are not the only ones bitter over their party’s failure to use new Congressional power to force a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Senator Harry Reid, the occasionally obstreperous Democratic leader, is upset as well. “We haven’t done enough,” said Mr. Reid, a onetime moderate who has evolved into one of the party’s most fervent critics of the war.

That view captures not only Mr. Reid’s sentiment but also the shifting political dynamic on the war, as public frustration remains high, the conflict dominates the presidential campaign landscape and senior Republicans have chosen to break with President Bush even as the administration has urged patience.

Sensing momentum from the new Republican defections, Mr. Reid and other leading Democrats intend to force a series of votes over the next two weeks on proposals to withdraw troops and limit spending. Democrats are increasingly confident they can assemble majority opposition to administration policies.

There is political gamesmanship in Reid's words here. I do not imagine he expects Republicans to rally to the cause of ending the Debacle, as his comments regarding Pete Domenici made clear, but he must invite them to join Democrats in the drive to end the Debacle.

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Violence In Iraq

The news today from Iraq:

Suicide bombings across Iraq killed nearly 150 and injured scores, including a massive truck assault in a northern Shiite village that ripped through a crowded market, officials said Saturday.

The violence came as the U.S. military on Saturday reported the deaths of eight American soldiers over the past two days, all killed in combat or by roadside bombs in Baghdad and the western province of Anbar. A British soldier was reported killed in fighting in southern Iraq.

The worst carnage unfolded in the Shiite Turkoman village of Amarly, 50 miles south of Kirkuk, when a suicide bomber rammed a truck laden with explosives into the central market, which is near a police station, officials said. The attack killed at least 115 people and wounded at least 210, according to district and hospital officials, adding that they expected the death toll to rise.

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Will Domenici, Warner, Hagel And Smith Vote To End The War?

[More importantly, will they vote to remove President Bush from office . . .]

Reacting to Sen. Pete Domenici's new words on Iraq, Harry Reid said:

Senator Domenici is correct to assess that the Administration's war strategy is misguided. But we will not see a much-needed change of course in Iraq until Republicans like Senators Domenici, Lugar and Voinovich are willing to stand up to President Bush. . . . Beginning with the Defense Authorization bill next week, Republicans will have the opportunity to not just say the right things on Iraq, but vote the right way too so that we can bring the responsible end to this war that the American people demand and deserve...."

Iraq votes next week? Who cares, we have an impeachment to dream about . . .

Update [2007-7-6 18:54:31 by Big Tent Democrat]: John Aravosis cares. My new favorite blogger. Sorry digby.

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Gen. Odom: Use The Spending Power To End the Iraq Debacle

Via mcjoan, retired General William Odom says:

. . . Congress clearly and indisputably has two powers over the executive: the power of the purse and the power to impeach. Instead of using either, members of congress are wasting their time discussing feckless measures like a bill that "de-authorizes the war in Iraq." That is toothless unless it is matched by a cut-off of funds....

To force him to begin a withdrawal before then, the first step should be to rally the public by providing an honest and candid definition of what "supporting the troops" really means and pointing out who is and who is not supporting our troops at war. The next step should be a flat refusal to appropriate money for to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion.

The final step should be to put that president on notice that if [he]ignores this legislative action and tries to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril, impeachment proceedings will proceed in the House of Representatives. Such presidential behavior surely would constitute the "high crime" of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his own personal interest.

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Friedman: Surge Is Failing

Tom Friedman writes:

It’s too early to pronounce the U.S. military’s surge in Iraq a failure. It’s not too early to say, though, that there’s no sign that it’s succeeding — that it’s making Iraqi politics or security better in any appreciable, self-sustaining way. At best, the surge is keeping Iraq from descending into full-scale civil war. At best we are dog paddling in the Tigris. Which means at least we should start to think about what happens if we have to get out of the water.

If, Mr. Friedman Unit? But he at least accepts it is time to leave:

The first choice for many Shiites is a pro-Iranian, Shiite-dominated religious Iraq, where Sunnis have little say and little power. . . . In short, our first-choice soldiers are dying for Iraqis’ second choice. That is wrong, terribly wrong. It has to stop.

That is progress of a sort from Friedman. He blathers on about Kurdistan and other silliness but the important point is this: Tom Friedman says it is time to get out.

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Two U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murdering Iraqis

The death toll keeps rising in Iraq. Among the details in today's article about Saturday's raid on Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City slum, is this news:

....two American soldiers are accused of killing three Iraqis in separate incidents, then planting weapons on the victims' remains, the military said in a statement. Fellow soldiers reported the alleged crimes, which took place between April and this month near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, it said.

The U.S. military on Saturday identified the soldiers as Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley from Candler, N.C., and Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval from Laredo, Texas.


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Webb On Iraq: The Missing Question

Lowell Feld writes up Senator Jim Webb's blogger conference call today:

Sen. Webb started off by talking about how he shared the "disappointment" of many regarding "the way the appropriations supplemental was handled by our party." He had hoped that his amendment, which would require that soldiers can't be redeployed unless they've been home at least that long, would have been attached to the supplemental. That would have cut right to the "inviolable bottom line" regarding how our troops are being used. The logic on that was "unassailable and clear," so if the President had vetoed it, everyone would have understood what he was doing. . . .

I think the questions to be asked about this statement are obvious. Feld reports the following questions:

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Respect For The Military

Yesterday, Matt Yglesias noted he was taken to task by Red State and other Right blogs for being a pointy-headed Harvard grad pontificating about things military. So it was great irony today to see, as reported by The Angry Rakkasan, General John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, being lectured to by pointy-head AEI scholar Frederick Kagan on things military. Rakkasan links to the Chicago Trib blog which reported:

Major Gen. John Batiste (ret.) who commanded the Army's First Infantry Division in Iraq, and is a respected critic of the war, said the insurgents have the initiative since they can pick where and when to explode a truck bomb for instance. But Frederick Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, rejected that view, saying that under the new strategy being executed by Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, the initiative was on the U.S. military's side. . . . It was one of those strange Washington moments where the military expert with real experience as a combatant commander in the battlespace at issue was being told he was wrong by an Inside-the-Beltway expert who likely never fired a weapon at anyone in anger.

I expect outraged posts throughout the Right blogs to protest this lack of respect for military experience. No I don't.

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Oppose Bush's Iraq Policy? Then Vote Against It

Matt Yglesias revisits the points he and I made yesterday about the emptiness of the Lugar/Voinovich "opposition" to Bush's Iraq policy:

When Republicans want to . . . vote to override Bush's veto, then they'll be breaking with Bush on Iraq. Until then, both the ones talking a good game and the ones talking bad one are, in fact, backing the president. What's more, it seems to me that we're well passed the point where any political purpose is advanced in a useful way by deliberately exaggerating the extent of intra-GOP disagreement. Before the 2004 election was a good time to hear about Republican dissent. Before the 2006 election, even. But folks who wait until after an electoral drubbing to start distancing themselves from their party's leaders don't deserve to be hailed as great independent thinkers.

Two points. First, the legislation Bush vetoed did not even have BINDING timelines. Second, when Matt writes "both the ones talking a good game and the ones talking a bad one are, in fact, backing the president," that applies to Democrats too.

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Lugar Changes Words, But Not Position on Iraq

When I first heard about Lugar's "groundbreaking" speech on Iraq, I wrote:

I suspect that come September, Lugar will join the August group of Warner, Hagel and Smith and speak about change but go along with Bush.

I was wrong. It didn't take until September. Via Yglesias, Lugar has ALREADY said he is not changing his vote on Iraq:

However, [Lugar spokesman Andy] Fisher said the speech does not mean Lugar would switch his vote on the war or embrace Democratic measures setting a deadline for troop withdrawals.

What a joke.

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What Sen. Lugar Misunderstands

In a much vaunted speech, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, has broken ranks with the Bush Iraq policy. However, I see a fundamental flaw in what Lugar says that leaves us pretty much where we were. Lugar said:

The current debate on Iraq in Washington has not been conducive to a thoughtful revision of our Iraq policy. Our debate is being driven by partisan political calculations and understandable fatigue with bad news — including deaths and injuries to Americans. We have been debating and voting on whether to fund American troops in Iraq and whether to place conditions on such funding. We have contemplated in great detail whether Iraqi success in achieving certain benchmarks should determine whether funding is approved or whether a withdrawal should commence. I would observe that none of this debate addresses our vital interests any more than they are addressed by an unquestioned devotion to an ill-defined strategy of “staying the course” in Iraq.

President Bush will not countenance any straying from staying his course. There is a reason why NOT funding the Iraq Debacle is our only hope. Because President Bush will not budge. I have heard many pretty speeches from Republicans, including the much lauded John Warner, on how we must change course. But each and every one of these Republicans has failed to confront Bush and demand binding timelines for troop withdrawal. I suspect that come September, Lugar will join the August group of Warner, Hagel and Smith and speak about change but go along with Bush. I for one, will not be fooled again. Democrats must insist on a truly binding withdrawal date from Iraq - by not funding the Debacle after a date certain.

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Chemical Ali to Hang in Iraq

I hate to say this about an execution, but it seems in the case of Chemical Ali, we've been here before, done that.

Ali Hassan al-Majeed -- a former general known as "Chemical Ali" -- received five death sentences for ordering the use of deadly mustard gas and nerve agents against the Kurds during the so-called Anfal campaign. Majeed and [Saddam] Hussein were cousins.

There was no great uproar, just some human rights groups protesting Saddam's executions, and I think you will see the same for Chemical Ali, albeit on a lesser scale.

He has 30 days to appeal his sentence.

Neither should have been tried by the Iraqi tribunal, but by an International Court. I doubt it will get the same media attention in the U.S. that Saddam's execution did.

The death penalty is barbaric, and what else do you expect of a country like Iraq. We've been there four years trying to instill democracy, and they sure haven't come very far. But then again, neither have we in the death penalty department.

I'd give him life without parole in a country where he knows no one. A very cold country, like Siberia. Maybe then he will have time to reflect on the egregrious acts of genocide he ordered or acquiesced in.

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On Iraq: John Warner To the Rescue?

Two weeks ago, Frank Rich berated persons like me because:

On the Democratic side, the left is furious at the new Congress’s failure to instantly fulfill its November mandate to end the war in Iraq. . . . It’s not exactly clear how a legislative Groundhog Day could accomplish this feat when the president’s obstinacy knows no bounds and the Democrats’ lack of a veto-proof Congressional majority poses no threat to his truculence.

Rich professed faith in John Warner to come to the rescue. This week Rich writes:

Americans and Iraqis know the truth anyway. The question now is: What will be the new new way forward? . . . Come September 2007, Mr. Bush will offer his usual false choices. We must either stay his disastrous course in eternal pursuit of "victory" or retreat to the apocalypse of "precipitous withdrawal." . . . For the Bush White House, the real definition of victory has become "anything they can get away with without taking blame for defeat," said the retired Army Gen. William Odom, a national security official in the Reagan and Carter administrations, when I spoke with him recently. The plan is to run out the Washington clock between now and Jan. 20, 2009, no matter the cost.

Who can stop them? Rich says it is up to John Warner:

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BREAKING! Too Few Troops For "Mission" In Iraq

Sit down. The news I am going to provide you, via the Washington Post, will shock you. The United States does not have enough troops in Iraq to carry out the mission it has been given:

. . . Retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who in 2003 was among the first to call public attention to the relatively small size of the U.S. invasion force, said that the new operation shows how outnumbered U.S. troops remain. "Why would we think that a temporary presence of 30,000 additional combat troops in a giant city would change the dynamics of a bitter civil war?" he said in an interview yesterday. "It's a fool's errand."

An officer working in Arrowhead Ripper, the subsidiary offensive in Diyala province, said wearily, "We just do not have the forces in country right now to have the appropriate level of presence across the country."

Many counterinsurgency experts agree. Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., the director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a national security think tank, said flatly that Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, does not have enough troops. "I suspect General Petraeus is taking a risk here, but that's what commanders do," he said.

Who'da thunk it? Well, actually everyone with a brain, starting with General Eric Shinseki:

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