"Seriousness" on Iraq

Spencer Ackerman upbraids his former employers at The New Republic for their lack of seriousness on Iraq while feigning "seriousness." This is exactly the problem with the Establishment Beltway and, frankly, anyone who wants to "Stay the course" without asking for real sacrifices from Americans. I tell you, just one time I would like to hear a stay the course person propose a draft, tax increases to pay for the Debacle and, in essence a reconquering of Iraq with 300,000 soldiers - because then I would know I am dealing with a person who is arguing honestly about the problem. Instead we get this:

The coming debate over timetables and troop levels will likely generate much anger, shattering postelection illusions of bipartisanship and provoking intra-party squabbles. But, in the end, this struggle will be over the difference between a largely intolerable outcome and a completely intolerable one....

What in blazes does that mean?

Ackerman gets right to the heart of the "seriousness" (which means the opposite of course):

Among the most annoying of TNR tropes is the flight to meta-analysis as soon as the recognition dawns that the magazine can't win an argument. And here, it pains and saddens me to say, TNR embraces it like a security blanket. First, TNR concedes that nothing it can possibly desire is likely to occur: "The U.S. presence in Iraq will not last long. Perhaps this new political reality will serve as shock therapy, scaring Iraq's warring factions into negotiations that can prevent the worst sectarian warfare. But perhaps not." The "perhaps not" is an intellectual prophylactic: it changes the subject before one can ask what in the world the U.S. could tell the Sunnis and the Shiites that could make them believe that that their interests are better served by peace than by war. If TNR has any idea what it means by this, it has an obligation to say so. But -- and, my friends, I can tell you, because I went to those Thursday editorial meetings for years -- these people have no idea what they mean. No matter. Then the magazine calls for super-duper diplomacy with Iraq's neighbors -- but the kind of diplomacy that rushes blood to TNR's crotch: "It, too, must be brutal: It must include threats and promises, alliances and coalitions -- with the threat of being left out. A new campaign should lay the groundwork for agreements prior to the calling of a peace conference that would include Iraq's parties and its neighbors, as well as the United States, the European Union, and Russia." Hysterically, the magazine concedes in the next sentence that it has no idea what the endgame of that diplomacy ought to be -- or, in TNR-speak, "That's not clear." As long as we bloviate around the negotiating table, apparently, the magazine will be satisfied. (In this sense, TNR's posture is modeled after Bush's approach to North Korea.)

The lack of seriousness from the "serious" people on Iraq is a big problem for actually trying to address the problem. TNR is emblematic of this.

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    Back on topic, I have to wonder... (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Bill Arnett on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 12:52:08 PM EST
    ...where he says:

    "But, in the end, this struggle will be over the difference between a largely intolerable outcome and a completely intolerable one...."

    ...if he might mean that Daddy's people will come up with the "largely intolerable outcome" which bush, in his arrogance will ignore and stick us with a "completely intolerable one."

    I think this because of the "new review from top to bottom" being conducted by Dubya DESPITE knowing that Daddy's people are more likely to come up with a better plan. I just don't believe Dubya is genetically capable of either taking advice or being honest with America.

    yes (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by aw on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 01:29:07 PM EST
    he might have a whopper of a temper tantrum; He'll show everybody who the decider is.

    Why Dont They Go To Iraq (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by john horse on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 08:28:36 PM EST
    I know one way that folks favoring the war in Iraq can show their seriousness.  How about joining the military and volunteering for duty in Iraq.  Forget the draft.  Lets have a George W. Bush Stay The Course All Volunteer Brigade composed of true believers.  I mean if this war is worth fighting then isn't it worth the ultimate human sacrifice?  Why should other people who don't believe in this war have to put their lives on the line when there are so many of you out there who actually believe in the war who can take their place?  Don't tell me that volunteering for service would be inconvenient or create a hardship for your family because people volunteer for wars that are worth fighting despite the personal inconvenience and hardship.  Just think of Ted Williams and Jimmy Stewart in WWII and Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.

    What type of cowards let others fight their battles?    

    Never Happen (none / 0) (#27)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 12:44:33 AM EST
    They want other folks to die for their mistaken beliefs. It's the only way they get to live long enough to put the blame on us.

    BTW (3.75 / 4) (#6)
    by soccerdad on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:56:54 AM EST
    BTD - your constant attempts at trying to prove that you are smarter than all others whether commenters or other writers is becoming more than tiresome and has demonstrated quite clearly your unwillingness or inability to think critically. Frankly you haven't proven that we should care what your opinion is. Ackerman has a long history. maybe you should spend more time trying to understand others rather than looking for small little comments that allow you denigrate them. You are becoming the left's version of ppj.

    I've written on Ackerman (1.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:03:19 AM EST
    in the past. I know where he is coming from.

    Strangely, you seem not to. You see I endorse Ackerman's views.

    Your comments are extremely bizarre on this point.

    Is there a particular argument I make here, or anywhere for that matter, that you actually want to address? To date, you have not.


    Haw! (none / 0) (#9)
    by desertswine on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:06:12 AM EST
    You are becoming the left's version of ppj.

    Mmmmppff....  you owe me a keyboard, S-dad.


    Heh (1.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:08:07 AM EST
    SD and BTD (none / 0) (#17)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 12:10:02 PM EST
    SD - You are comparing me to Big Tent?

    Sir, I am insulted beyond belief. I mean really.
    Spit balls at 30 paces. My Second will call.


    Shorter. SD and BTD deserve each other.


    Not too difficult, really (3.66 / 3) (#1)
    by theologicus on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:06:32 AM EST
    What in blazes does that mean?

    It means that even when it comes to catastrophe, there are matters of degree.

    The choice is not between merely staying and "cutting and running."

    Everything depends on whether an international conference can be convened that will allow other countries, perhaps through the Arab League, to help arrange a settlement that will prevent an even further slide into chaos.

    But the US has to go.  And take their bases with them.

    Not too difficult realy (1.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:11:05 AM EST
    Your words are platitudes and emptiness.

    What are the choices then? What is the less intokrable result? How do we achive it?

    Do we just stay the course then? And if so, until when?

    What in blazes are YOU talking about and how will you achieve whatever it is you are talking about?


    General Wesley Clark (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 01:51:01 PM EST

    General Clark's WaPo editorial was rational and quite specific, and reflected his vast knowledge and experience of warfare and diplomacy. In a political nutshell, General Clark believes that while "the Bush Administration's elective invasion of Iraq was clearly a mistake, pulling our troops out now would also be a mistake. If we put the right strategy in place, we can still succeed -- but time is running out.

    So far, instead of a strategy the Bush Administration has simply demanded that the American people show resolve. But resolve isn't enough to mend a flawed approach or save the lives of our troops. It's time for the Bush Administration to actually do the hard work, to put a three-pronged diplomatic, political, and military strategy in place that will ultimately enable us to withdraw.

    If the Administration won't adopt such a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that our brave men and women in uniform come home. It's up to President Bush to put the strategy in place, without delay."


    General Clark (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 03:19:55 PM EST
    wrote that column 18 months ago.

    George Bush will be PResident for the next 25 months.

    What will change?


    couldn't have been (1.00 / 2) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 12:02:59 PM EST
    theo - This couldn't have been pre invasion, much less now. Why can't you understand that the issue is Iran, Iran's desire to control the ME, destroy Israel and put the world under Shari law.

    And the more you, and other members of the Left call for such, the less chance you have of it happening.


    God you are dense (3.00 / 3) (#5)
    by soccerdad on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:46:21 AM EST
     What Ackerman has known for a long time is that neither the Dems or Repubs are about to leave Iraq and that in fact there is little difference between the Dems and repub leaders when it comes to Iraq. The TNR and most Dem leadership have adopted the new neocon meme that its just an execution problem.

    What Ackerman knows also is that the war is an imperialistic war of aggression and that as long as we are in Iraq nothing will change.

    So if you are a Dem and believe that all that is wrong is the way the war has been executed then you are no better that the neocon scum that started this mess. The TNR can jive all it wants, its just trying to put lipstick on the pig, a pig that the political leadership in this country supports.

    Since i do not believe (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:00:42 AM EST
    what you ascribe to me I will ignore your insult.

    I opposed the Iraq War since it was first mooted.

    Right now there is supposed to be a debate ongoing as to what we do now.

    IF Ackerman knows what you say he knows about Dems, I can't say, but he did not write those words.

    Moreover, my argument is not a Dem/GOP one, but an argument about unseriousness, wherever it comes from.

    At this point, I have to include you in that group. You seem to believe that not engaging the unseriousness of the debate is helpful. Spencer Ackerman writes a piece that I endorse and second and you are telling me that I am dense and he is brilliant.

    Rather bizarre of you.


    For those keeping score (3.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:06:50 AM EST
    soccerdad's nasty attitude bother me not in the least.

    I have no concern about it.

    I respond in kind of course, but addressing substance.

    This is my style. This is how I blog.

    Civil begets civil. Nasty begets nasty.

    Substance begets substance.

    I am no civility cop.

    Not true (3.66 / 3) (#12)
    by Peaches on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:37:59 AM EST
    You respond to any criticism of your views with attacks and unwarrented insults. You have no high ground to stand on BTD. None at all. You have managed to inferiorate, SD, PPJ, Sarc, JLV, Decon, and I. ALl of us have criticized the subswtance you offer. You have consistently responded with nastiness to substantive criticism. That is quite a spectrum of political opinions, you've managed to alinate yourself from. Amazing really.

    Skip (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by aw on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:58:07 AM EST
    the sanctimonious pearl clutching and say something about this wretched war.

    The Iraquis want us out.  The voters have said get us out.


    Nice list (1.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:47:24 AM EST
    Jim, Decon, Sarc and you.

    I am uplifted by my detractors.


    Actually he may be worse that ppj (2.33 / 3) (#15)
    by soccerdad on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:59:28 AM EST
    BTD - you are a legand in your own mind and seriously detract from the quality of TL.

    Fair enough (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 03:21:36 PM EST
    And the substance?

    Wrangel (none / 0) (#3)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:29:24 AM EST
    He pounded the draft meme for months.  Now that he is in power, I expect to see a bill for the draft roaring through congress.  Riight....

    No (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:34:30 AM EST
    Rangel wants to get out. Rangel's point is thatig you are serious about staying the course, then you need a draft.

    He's right.


    Exactly (none / 0) (#19)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 01:22:32 PM EST
    Rangel knows that the quickest way to end this mess is to start a draft. Pull the upper crust scion outta the Ivy League schools and ship 'em to Iraq. This thing would be over in MINUTES.

    hmmmmm (none / 0) (#24)
    by cpinva on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 05:28:54 PM EST
    ackerman's criticisms of TNR may be well founded. however, in their defense, their not having a clue puts them in good company: pretty much every politician and pundit in america.

    with all due respect to gen. clark, if i recall correctly, he had no suggestions for a specific end-game strategy either, other than that we needed one. we already kind of knew that. in fact, again, if i recall correctly, gen. shineshevski(sp)was the first to point that out, before the invasion. he suggested, rather strongly, that the proposed troop levels were vastly insufficient for the total mission. for his expert analysis, he was handed his retirement papers.

    i'm certainly no expert, and i was opposed to this "pre-emptive" invasion from the start, but i see really only two viable courses of action:

    1. buff up troop levels to vietnam era levels: 500k.; engage the surrounding arab countries into providing substantive border control, to reduce/eliminate the movement of insurgents.; sweep through iraq, and take out all the various private militias, peacefully or by overwhelming force.; collect all weapons from civilians, everything. again, peacefully or by force.; take firm control of all major population centers., etc.

    an advantage in iraq is the lack of a covering jungle, though it does have barely passable mountains. take the grant/sherman "total war" approach.

    2. claim victory, and get the heck out of there.

    the first will require a draft and long, hard work. the second won't.

    since no politician is seriously considering a draft, i expect to see some form of #2 implemented. i extend my sympathies to the iraqi people. sorry about that.

    btw peaches, i believe i hold the distinction of being the first poster to feel the "wrath" of BTD, some time ago. i found it somewhat amusing, sort of like arguing with my 16 year-old, who's reached the stage where he knows everything. he even disputes issues that i have first-hand knowledge of, because i was witness to the event(s) in question.

    both BTD and my son are intelligent. with luck, they'll both mature. :)

    Do You Really Not Understand? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Cugel on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 06:37:03 PM EST
    "What in blazes does that mean?"

    It's not that hard to understand what all the washington Punditburo nodding heads are saying!

    It's exactly the same thing they were saying before the election. "It might have been a mistake to invade Iraq (although we won't talk about the fact that we were cheerleaders for the war for the last 3 years and swallowed every patent lie by Bush with complete obsequiousness) but that's all in the past. We're there now and we have to win, otherwise the terrorists will win! So, we can't 'cut and run.'" The only responsible option is to try various nostrums all under the rubric of "change of course in Iraq."

    But the only thing that might actually "change the course" would be withdrawal. And that's off the table and not even for discussion! So, all that's left are the brilliant new clothes our emperor has just put on.

    Meanwhile outside the beltway wisdom, 60% of the American people just voted to get out of Iraq (roughly evenly divided between those who want to withdraw NOW and those who want to withdraw some troops starting next year). But, of course, the election wasn't really a mandate for Democrats to change anything, it wasn't about Iraq anyway! Besides, it doesn't matter what the people want! What could they know?! WE, the chosen elect know the truth and the truth is "we can't just cut and run from Iraq."

    So, much cheerleading about how Baker & Co. will chart a brilliant new course in Iraq in which 20,000 more troops will bring victory, or at least "stability" while we craft a new "political solution" in which all the warring parties will somehow get together and sing Kumbayah! We're even going to get Syria and Iran to impose some sort of peace on Iraq, although how and why they would do this is better left unsaid.

    In fact we don't even know enough to realize that there's any problem with this wonderful scenario (like the fact that a large part of what the Sunnis are fighting against is the influence of Iran or the fact that Iran has no incentive at all to cooperate with us unless we were willing to sign an agreement publicly not to attack them and to stop trying to stop their nuclear program).

    Then when this glorious new plan works we can withdraw with flags flying and say that we won! Hurrah! Bush was right all along, all it took was a little faith!

    Now that wasn't so hard, was it?