Dem Plans For Iraq and The Middle East: Do They Matter Now?

While I agree with Matt Yglesias that demands regarding a "no residual force in Iraq" pledge are not meaningful or even smart, I actually question the entire premise of the discussion.

What matters now, what everyone needs to ask of their representatives, of the Presidential candidates, of the blogs, of the activists, is 'what is your plan for ending the Iraq Debacle?' I get rather impatient with these discussions about residual forces and whatnot. These are fine questions, for the debates and the primaries and for down the road.

The REAL question now is 'what is your plan for getting us out of Iraq?' President Bush is not talking about residual forces - he is sending in MORE troops. We need to stop this Debacle. Right now, Reid-Feingold is the only viable proposal, and no it does not have to become law to end the Debacle.

So my main questions now for all pols, activists, etc. is, and will remain for the time being, "do you support Reid-Feingold? If not, why not?"

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    Thanks for being a voice of sanity (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 06:53:08 PM EST
    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 07:08:54 PM EST
    That's the big issue of the day there? Remarkable.

    Oh no (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 08:45:35 PM EST
    What on earth will we do without St. John's Wort?

    andgarden, till now i have agreed with you (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by conchita on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 11:10:02 PM EST
    99.9% of the time, but not on the issues in that diary.  i have been reading about codex for some time and i do think it is something to be concerned about.

    that said, while researching something i came across an ad for some patch that supposedly guarantees the wearer a flat stomach in a matter of days.  so yes, there is need for regulation of some things, but i fear it would be taken too far and used in ways that end up benefiting big pharma and restricting access to over the counter supplements and alternative remedies that are easily found today.

    don't want to rehash that whole argument because you and i seem to see it very differently, but since you brought it up....


    You're right, we do disagree here (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 12:49:05 AM EST
    I disagree entirely with the anti-intellectualism implicit in the suggestion that traditional "medicine" (witch doctors, homeopathy, acupuncture, etc.) can hold a candle to modern science and treatment.

    It's not by coincidence that people have longer life spans in countries where modern treatment is widely available--It actually happens to work.  


    Having no familiarity with the context in which (none / 0) (#21)
    by conchita on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 01:58:17 PM EST
    you reached that conclusion, I don't want to make assumptions, but I wonder to what extent you have been exposed to what you term 'traditional "medicine"'.  I grew up enmeshed in western medicince - father's family owned drugstores before the advent of cvs, etc., put them out of business, and my mother's second husband is an m.d. - and drugs were dispensed liberally.  living in hawai'i in my early twenties exposed me to eastern cultures and a more holistic approach to living.  while i see western physicians, i always consider an alternative remedy before taking any drug stronger than aspirin.  it is encouraging to observe that in the twenty odd years since i lived in hawai'i western medicine has become more open to and even incorporated some of these practices.  from my perspective this is the antithesis of anti-intellectualism.  

    regarding your contention that longer life spans occur where modern treatment is available i have two responses.  first, the wikipedia list of countries by life expectancy shows the longest life expectancy in andorra - 83.51 and the shortest in swaziland - 33.22.  it does not come as any surprise that the continent of africa has the lowest life expectancy, but i think there is more at play here than exposure to modern medicine - poverty, war, aids, to cite a few contributing factors.  the life expectancy for the u.s. is 79.73, china 72.27, japan 81.25, and india 64.35.  i find india interesting because the population size and the extreme poverty lead me to expect a lower life expectancy, and i can't help but wonder if aryuvedic medicine and yoga practices have been a mitigating factor.  i can't prove this without doing a more detailed study looking at the introduction of western medicine and how it has effected life expectancy there, but i do wonder.  

    second, i am not so sure that a longer life span is a positive thing.  i don't know that the earth can sustain a population with a longer life expectancy, certainly not in the way we have been living with respect to natural resources.  i also question the relationship between quality of life and length of life.  from a very personal place, i lost my boyfriend this past december when he died at 48 from a traveler's intestinal virus misdiagnosed by an american hospital in cambodia.  this may sound callous, but had he survived the surgery he would have ended up with a colostomy bag, something he could not have lived with.  his family and i know his very strong feelings about quality of life and know that it was better that he died than to have faced the remainder of his life in that circumstance.  i know this is not easy for everyone to understand or accept, but, similarly, i wonder if the advances of modern science that save u.s. soldiers in iraq only to send them home barely functional and a shadow of what they were before.  i know i am touching on sensitive topics here and i hope i do not offend, but i will continue with one more example: terry schiavo.  anyone who has seen a family member decline to the point where s/he is simply alive but lacks quality of life knows the essence of this deeply personal and difficult question about prolonging human life.  i haven't seen bill maher in years, but when i watched his show around the time of 9-11, i remember him remarking more than once "there are worse things in life than dying" and it resonated with me.


    I'm very sorry to hear about your boyfriend (none / 0) (#22)
    by andgarden on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 02:44:03 PM EST
    as to the merits of what you say, I see one of many big problems here:
    i find india interesting because the population size and the extreme poverty lead me to expect a lower life expectancy, and i can't help but wonder if aryuvedic medicine and yoga practices have been a mitigating factor.
    See, there are ways to test for this, but speculation doesn't cut it.


    living in hawai'i in my early twenties exposed me to eastern cultures and a more holistic approach to living.  while i see western physicians, i always consider an alternative remedy before taking any drug stronger than aspirin.
    Again, any "eastern" treatmeant you use can be subjected to double blind testing. See, I do beleive that lving longer is a good thing, generally speaking, and your insinuation of Malthusian catastrophe is one that I can't take seriously.

    Also, for the record, one really good definition of anti-intellectualism is the rejection of scientifically and professionally derived knowledge for the alternative of one's own personal experience. It seems to me that what you're describing is religion applied to medicine. To me, that's especially dangerous.


    we are clearly approaching this from two (none / 0) (#23)
    by conchita on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 05:11:49 PM EST
    distinctly different perspectives.  

    1.    a person opposed to or hostile toward intellectuals and the modern academic, artistic, social, religious, and other theories associated with them.
    2.    a person who believes that intellect and reason are less important than actions and emotions in solving practical problems and understanding reality.

    it is #1 that defines my position.  in looking at intellectualism i am inclusive.  social and cultural changes are derived from intellectual openness to and examination of the other rather than retreat into what is comfortable and familiar, already proven.  more specifically, i see limitations in modern science and medicine because it often fails to incorporate a humanism.  i think this can develop into a serious problem in a market economy as evidenced by the healthcare "system" in the us.  i see the fda and its often questionable oversight in the same light.

    it seems that #2 better defines your position and you are approaching intellectualism more from a classical point of view and rejecting schools of thought outside of modern science.

    i am not referencing religion at all.  perhaps my reference to yoga is what prompted you to suggest that i am describing religion applied to medicine.  a good illustration of what i am getting at is the investigating the mind 2005" conference":

    This latest Mind and Life public meeting "Investigating the Mind 2005: The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation" built on the growing interest in meditation within modern medicine and biomedical science that has arisen over the past thirty years and further explores the emerging clinical opportunities.

    Meditation is becoming Mainstream in Western Medicine and Society
    Applications of meditation are now common in the treatment of stress, pain, and a range of chronic diseases in both medicine and psychiatry, and some approaches are currently the subject of NIH-supported clinical trials and research studies. At the same time, the power of our non-invasive technologies have made it possible to investigate the nature of cognition and emotion in the brain as never before, and to begin to explore the interfaces between mind, brain, and body, and the implications of particular forms of meditative practices for modulating and regulating biological pathways to restore or enhance homeostatic processes and perhaps extend the reach of both mind and body in ways that might potentially promote rehabilitation and healing as well as greater overall health and well-being.
    Recent studies are showing that meditation can result in stable brain patterns and changes over both short and long-term intervals that have not been seen before in human beings and that suggest the potential for the systematic driving of positive neuroplastic changes via such intentional practices cultivated over time. These investigations may offer opportunities for understanding the basic unifying mechanisms of the brain, mind and body that underlie awareness and our capacity for effective adaptation to stressful and uncertain conditions.

    this conference was written about widely in the mainstream media and caused quite a stir.  however, i firmly believe it is a sign of progress not regress that western medicine and science is taking practices like meditation seriously.  


    I don't have any particular problem (none / 0) (#24)
    by andgarden on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 05:31:44 PM EST
    with meditation, but if it's going to be used to treat medical conditions, its efficacy should be testable. The alternative, as I've said, is a situation comprable to the role of religion, which I do happen to have a problem with.

    As to your definitions of anti-intellectualism, I'll simply say that I agree with both, but that, as far as the practice of medicine is concerned, the second definition is more important.


    ah, now i see what you mean about religion, (none / 0) (#26)
    by conchita on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 08:03:04 PM EST
    but i don't equate blind acceptance of the bible with being open to alternative/traditional medicine.    similarly, i don't see yoga practice or meditation or acupuncture or chinese herbs as on the same level as voodoo.  that said, for all i know there may be practices within voodoo that do make sense, but while i doubt it, i have to admit that i do not have enough familiarity with voodoo to make an informed assessment.  one thing that i have learned is that there is often innate sense in some "folk practices," in particular those of native americans and other indigenous populations.  i think the reason for this is that they lived closer to the earth and consequently had greater respect for and appreciation of it.  as a culture we have been so drawn to western science and medicine that we have lost touch with some of the basic understandings many less "developed" cultures still have.  my concern is that in giving more power to those who worship at the altar of science we cut ourselves off further.  hence, i argue for more openness and less control, particularly by those who stand to make a profit via control (the fda and big pharma have a revolving door relationship like so many other industries and regulators).  

    i don't want to bore you with an endless argument but i will finish by mentioning biomimicry and how many scientists are studying nature very carefully to design more environmentally benign, resource efficient materials.  it is this kind of holistic approach to research and development that i compare to openness to alternative remedies and practices such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, etc. and how they inform western medicine.  the biomicry link was to a wikipedia page, but i also recommend listening to janine benyus at bigpicture.tv if you are curious.  as a disclaimer, i'm not sure if bigpicture.tv requires subscription or simple registration for access to the site as i was happy to support their excellent work by paying for a subscription.


    Finally, (none / 0) (#27)
    by andgarden on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 08:39:32 PM EST
    but i don't equate blind acceptance of the bible with being open to alternative/traditional medicine.    similarly, i don't see yoga practice or meditation or acupuncture or chinese herbs as on the same level as voodoo.
    I do. To me, there is little material distinction. That would be a key difference between us.


    one thing that i have learned is that there is often innate sense in some "folk practices," in particular those of native americans and other indigenous populations.
    That may well be true, but if so, then it should be testable by science. I mean, consider that we still use leeches in western medicine, but that's because we can say empirically that they perform some functions with some degree of predictability. But there are many more western folk ideas and remedies that have been retired for lack of efficacy. No one speaks seriously of Humorism in the body anymore, for example.

    so at least we agree on a key difference. (none / 0) (#28)
    by conchita on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 09:29:32 PM EST
    however, many of the constructs of modern science have already and will become outmoded just as humorism.  for example consider how our views about nutrition and diet have evolved.  vegetarians were once looked at as crackpots and many mothers clucked about how their vegetarian children weren't getting enough protein.  in time we've learned to question the conventional red meat-based diet.  even western physicians encourage their patients to eat diets less highly saturated in protein and fat.  and now i read arguments that opting for a vegetarian diet is better for the environment - cutting back on the energy used to provide grains and grazing ground for beef and even reducing co2 emissions.  whereas twenty or so years ago eschewing red meat was considered  tantamount to heresy, these days it is  viewed as a wise nutritional practice.  there are many other comparable examples.  my argument is that we cannot dismiss with a grand generalization all that has not been scientifically proven any more than i am suggesting we disregard science as a whole.  i believe that a spectrum of schools of thought can and should inform our decisions and practices.

    Science isn't static (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 09:45:08 PM EST
    traditional medicine is. Oh, and many vegetarians did have, and somtimes continue to have, protein problems.

    and many meat eaters have cholesterol issues. (none / 0) (#30)
    by conchita on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 10:48:17 PM EST
    and my mother, a big believer in western medicine took both vioxx and estrogen supplements when going through menopause.  when i reach that point in my life i will look to soy milk (made from only organic soybeans) and herbal remedies that are recommended by reputable sources.  today i believe the most common herbal treatments recommended for menopause are black cohosh, st. john's wort, and valerian.  because traditional medicine, in my experience, is not static, it is possible that additional herbs will be recommended at the time i need them, or chances are the effectiveness of one of the three listed will be in question.  bottom line, i will be hard-pressed to go with the scientifically proven, fda approved estrogen treatments my mum took, the ones that put her at increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer.

    I dunno (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 07:40:04 PM EST
    demands regarding a "no residual force in Iraq" pledge are not meaningful or even smart

    When I envision 30,000 troops hunkered down in the Green Zone, spending their time between the Dunkin' Donuts and the theater and the indoor go-kart track,  as Iraq literally goes up in flames around them, it has a surreal Dawn of the Dead kinda feel. What can they possibly accomplish? And how on earth will we keep them supplied? Nonstop airlifts? I swear, sometimes I feel like the only reason anyone considers staying there is that we put up Main Street, USA right in the middle of town. Nobody would give a sh*t about abandoning a tent city.

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 07:44:19 PM EST
    that's not a residual force in my mind.

    Is that what they mean?

    Then they are lying about wanting to end the Debacle.


    Well (none / 0) (#7)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 08:43:02 PM EST
    I imagine they mean just enough to hold the Green Zone and abandon the rest of the country. Problem is, this doesn't leave us many options for keeping the oil, so it appeals to absolutely no one.

    If you're thinking even less than that, maybe 10,000, though... what on earth are they going to do? I saw a crowd of 20,000 at today's Obama rally, and I'm picturing half of them in uniform, and it doesn't seem like they'd be able to stop a civil war. I sure as hell wouldn't want to be in their shoes, either. Ridiculously outnumbered, underequipped and undertrained? Their situation will become so dire that everyone will call to either reinforce them (i.e., reinvade Baghdad, the Farce to End All Farce) or pull them out like we should have done in the first place.

    No, as far as I'm concerned, we either get out - completely - or we let this war bleed our nation to death. There is no happy medium.


    I don't think (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 10:42:43 AM EST
    the green zone is an option if we pull the majority of our forces out.  I don't think we can secure and hold that area.

    Somehow (none / 0) (#25)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 05:46:52 PM EST
    I find it difficult to imagine all our forces holed up in Mosul while jubilant throngs run through the Green Zone McDonald's hitting Ronald in the face with their shoes.

    Didn't Hillary Clinto say she would maintain (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 08:02:15 PM EST
    some U.S. military in Iraq, but not in Baghdad, and the U.S. military would not get involved in Iraq's civil war?  Not sure how that would work exactly.  

    Didn't Clinton say limited number of troops... (none / 0) (#10)
    by cal11 voter on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 10:23:38 PM EST
    would be deployed north of Bagdad and south of Kirkuk?

    didn't HRC say poll tested mush? (none / 0) (#16)
    by seabos84 on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 01:21:51 AM EST
    if she was making deals to get things like social security or medicare passed, I'd put up with getting sold out on other things.

    I've just been getting sold out, and

    part of the sell out sell is

    "look how bad bush and raygun are!"


    leadership is NOT just 'we aren't evil'

    leadership is making progress.



    Change the mission (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by timber on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 08:06:47 PM EST
    I like how Pelosi frames it:  Change the mission in Iraq from combat mission to that of training and support.

    So if a residual force is needed to accomplish the mission of training in support--so be it.

    If not, why not? (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Alien Abductee on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 09:16:10 PM EST
    The candidates all seem to need their own plans for positioning purposes.

    Everyone needs to be the alpha dog and carve out their own turf to appear to be a leader.

    The system is set up to lead all the major candidates to emphasize the differences in their plans instead of the similarities. There is common ground between all their different plans, there's just no percentage for any of them in focusing on it.

    Competition is great for producing better toasters but it sucks for developing party solidarity.

    The only solution I can see is to increase the costs for them individually if they refuse to work together on this.

    This nation has been capable of coming (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 10:56:58 AM EST
    together and doing needed ethical things in the past.  We can do this together.

    What about all of the permanent bases (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by conchita on Sat Apr 14, 2007 at 11:04:50 PM EST
    we have built?  Who shall man them?  And how do we secure the oil?  For withdrawl to really mean withdrawl we have to leave completely.  And as much as I understand impatience "with these discussions about residual forces and whatnot" and the inclination to consider them "questions, for the debates and the primaries and for down the road," I disagree and think they are issues that should be looked at now.  Obama's remark a couple of weeks ago about the need for Iraqi's to make compromises about their oil was very telling.  And I seriously question what constitutes Hillary's war hawk definition of withdrawl.

    The reason why I disagree Conchita (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 10:54:49 AM EST
    is that once we begin to pull troops that is a huge change in our goals and what we can and cannot do in the region as a military force.  Because we can't secure permanent bases there, the U.S. would decide to pull any residual forces down the road because it would be a fruitless goal.  We have never stayed where we are constantly attacked, it isn't the American way to be occupiers.  With all of our troops amassed there though the goal is war or can flip from support to war and back again all day long and we have war without end.  IMO we never have a hope of getting oil out of the country in any meaningful amount because our efforts are sabotaged in Iraq every day even now.  The many different factions in Iraq have no intention of ever allowing America to control its oil, I can't see how America ever could without decades of bloody fighting.

    mt, if i have understood correctly (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by conchita on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 12:48:52 PM EST
    you and i see things similarly.  but obama and hillary would not agree with us and i expect that   edwards and dodd would either.  i'm not sure about richardson (need to read more).

    I would rather avoid a head-on collision . . . (none / 0) (#13)
    by walt on Sun Apr 15, 2007 at 12:03:57 AM EST
    . . . but, I worked at a forward operating base in Afghanistan that was constantly re-supplied by C-130 aircraft, CH-47 helicopters & Uzbek or Kyrgiz transport aircraft.  The contemporary version of what could be termed "Berlin airlift, redux" is a total copulation of the mind.  Our base had a dirt runway, no overland connections & severely limited re-supply capabilities.  We of the civilian persuasion had to wait 4, 5, 6, 7, or more, days to get a flight out for our R&Rs.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, that you can imagine exceeds the capacity of the Bu$h, Cheney, Gates mindset & the contemporary military capability.

    Until some diligent folks can discover 17 of our favorite rethuglican senators who choose to jump ship & vote for conviction on a bill of impeachment, this entire discussion is moot.

    Moot.  The wars will proceed apace.  Exactly as planned by Darth Cheney, PNAC & Rumsfeld/Gates.

    And, as a former US Marine, myself, that obvious pun on the name of the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs is totally intentional.

    Peace.  Or some semblance thereof until the senate convicts on a bill of impeachment or the newly elected president takes office in January of 2009.