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Since precisely one Senator flapping his lips on a Sunday talk show has instantly morphed into conventional wisdom that "Democrats" will call for "phased withdrawal" in January ["The president's brief remarks seemed aimed at Democrats, who are demanding a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq, beginning in a matter of months..."] I have a few respectful questions.

What tactical elements are being applied to this yet chronologically un-specified set of "phases?"  Meaning do all the troops in Anbar province go first, then Baghdad, then the southern regions?

How much time will all these "phases" take?  6 months?  1 year?  2 years?

What is the opinion of the Army and Marine Corps General Staff of "phased withdrawal?"  How often and deeply were you in consultation with them before the "phased withdrawal" plan was drafted?

Do you have the codified endorsement of the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House and House Majority Leader for "phased withdrawal?  There is no House Majority Leader yet?  I see.

Assuming all of the leadership positions are fully behind "phased withdrawal," what political and communication strategy is in place?  Is there a plan to engage and solicit help from the netroots?  Has Professor Lakoff been consulted?  What precise media strategy is in place?

What if something goes horribly wrong--say, 2,000 GI's killed in a week from road ambushes as they head south?  What if the country explodes into regional fighting during the middle of a "phase?"

Does the US then abandon a "withdrawal" and return to past force structures or crash full speed ahead with "total withdrawal" and abandon Iraq to the fates?

Where do forces in "withdrawal" go?  Kuwait?  Turkey?  Home?  Will some stay if most are to come home?  How many?  Where will they stay?

What are we to tell our allies and few friends left in the world?  Will we guard the region with significant naval and land forces for x number of years to provide regional security?  If yes, what components, and how will that be paid for?

What mental and physical health plans are in place for our returning veterans?  We lied to them, maimed and killed them, and then left them with horrible mental burdens to go along with loss and failure.  Are we just going to dump them back on US bases and abuse them with neglect as we did in the past?

Given all the acute complexities and dangers involved in "phased withdrawal," why was this option chosen over the much safer and simpler option of total immediate withdrawal?

Senator Levine, I have been lied to a daily basis for four years as this tragedy of epic proportions unfolded.  The United States has disgraced itself to unthinkable lows of degradation while blowing off a trillions dollars in a fiasco that will make us manifestly less safe for decades to come.

This is not some highway project or policy experiment.  It is not Southeast Asia.  Tens of thousands of lives are at stake in the most strategically critical area of the planet with zero room for error.  I am not prepared in any sense for some half-assed thinking with no planning to flip the United States and the Democratic Party into a flaming conflagration where somehow Democrats get tagged for the debacle.

Originally posted to paradox on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:10 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Get out (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paradox, esquimaux, kraant, john07801
    of Iraq now.

    It's simple, it's easy and it's effective.

    •  Its simple easy and effective (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nightsweat, quaoar, esquimaux

      as a campaign slogan.  But it's not a plan.  The pure logistics of 150,000 troops in a warzone means that they can't be removed now.

      "Why don't newscasters cry when they read about people who die? At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eye" - Jack Johnson

      by bawbie on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:24:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  H.L. Mencken (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vibinc

        "For every problem there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

        Your vote doesn't count if your vote isn't counted.

        by nightsweat on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:27:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, (0+ / 0-)

          you can have your empire, if you plan to die for it.

          As for Menken, he was an anti-semitic elitist.  

          •  And Wagner hated Jews, too (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bawbie, vibinc, slksfca

            Doesn't mean he didn't make amazing music.

            Simply pulling all the troops out of Iraq by, say, next Wdnesday would not only be impossible, but unbelievably destructive both to Iraq and the countries around her, but to the United States.

            We suck for going into Iraq. I'm not debating that. It was a stupid, venal, power-mad move.  But now we're there, and we have to find a way out that doesn't lead to a general Middle-East war on Iraqi soil between Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait, Afghanistan and whomever else you can think of in the region.

            Your vote doesn't count if your vote isn't counted.

            by nightsweat on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:34:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Don't like Wagner's (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              slksfca

              music.  Don't like rationales for empire.

              We disagree.  Interesting conversation, though.

              •  Empire? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                vibinc

                Who's arguing for empire?  I'm arguing we need to find a stable solution for Iraq, whether that's partition or coalition or some other solution.  I'm mainly arguing against getting out as irresponsibly as we got in.

                Your vote doesn't count if your vote isn't counted.

                by nightsweat on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:40:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Well done (0+ / 0-)
                you jackass.

                Yes, everyone who doesn't want to leave Iraq in a security-less state is an empirist.  By the same leap of logic, I could call you a terrorist for wanting the US to pull out now and leave Iraq to Al-Qaeda.

                I'm saying that, but it's the same logic you are using.

                "Why don't newscasters cry when they read about people who die? At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eye" - Jack Johnson

                by bawbie on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:44:17 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                  •  Well it would be an interesting conversation (0+ / 0-)

                    if it weren't so damn one-sided.

                    If you have a point of view you could at least attempt to back it up.

                    "Why don't newscasters cry when they read about people who die? At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eye" - Jack Johnson

                    by bawbie on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 08:09:19 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  More sticks and stones (0+ / 0-)

                      Why is it some "moderates" feel so superior and try to talk down to others?  

                      I made my point, you made yours, we disagree.

                      No place to converge.  We'll just differ.  That's okay with me.  

                      •  Fuck you (0+ / 0-)

                        I'm not a "moderate" and I'm not trying to talk down to anyone, simply trying to have a conversation about the most important topic of our times.

                        "Why don't newscasters cry when they read about people who die? At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eye" - Jack Johnson

                        by bawbie on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 08:45:01 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  He was racist, too (0+ / 0-)

            So freaking what? I almost troll-rated that non-sequitur. Mencken's Chrestomathy is filled with observations that still ring valid today. People are products of their times and ought to always be read as such.

            As for withdrawal from Iraq, if we sit around playing "what if?" games all day, we'll never get out. At some point, you just start doing it and you see what happens and you deal with happens as it happens.

            If the alternative is "we stay in Iraq until it's a happy peaceful country" then we're there forever and even if wanted that, we can't afford it.

            Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

            by The Raven on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:45:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Diagree that (0+ / 0-)

              people are "products of their times" and that somehow excuses their beliefs.  There were those that opposed racism in the early 1900s.  Lets him off too easy.  

              Regardless of Mencken's racism and anti-semitism, I just never was that impressed by his one liners.  I do not consider him a first rate thinker.  He was a newspaer columnist.

              That said, I agree with most of your comment on the substantive issue of Iraq.   Some people like Menken and some don't.  We can disagree on that.  

              Don't like non-sequiters, prefer sequiters. Or a nice modus ponens (probably misspelled, it's been a long time since formal logic) on a bright afternoon.  

      •  Now is a goal. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paradox

        It may take a few days or weeks or even months.  But now is much better than a phased withdrawal that may take years.  

        Plans and planing always seems to lead to staying forever.  Let's see, a year ago we were talking about reducing tropps by the end of 2006.  Hmmm.  

        Getting out has to be our policy, or we stay for empire and all its costs.

        •  No (0+ / 0-)

          a year ago the Bush Administration were talking about reducing troops by the end of 2006.  And today the Bush Administration still has complete control over troop levels in Iraq, and they still will with the new congress.

          But even your plan of pulling out "now", with "now" being some indeterminant amount of time, if we don't transition security of Iraq to somebody then it become chaos and anarchy (moreso than it already is) and does actually become a threat to our security.  I want our troop home today as well, but we can not leave the country in a vacuum.

          "Why don't newscasters cry when they read about people who die? At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eye" - Jack Johnson

          by bawbie on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:36:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i am not buying it (0+ / 0-)

            Iraq is getting worse with us there and will get worse when we leave.  so that part of the argument goes nowhere.

            our security is under threat even more because of this and if we leave, the terrorists will most likely leave as well. so that argument is b.s.

            our government is considering taking out the elected government Iraq has today..  so I fail to see how staying in Iraq helps us or the Iraqis.

            TomP is right.  This is about having bases in Iraq.  It is about having a presence in the middle east more than our security.  To me that means they want to protect the oil to protect our superpower status.

            Chaos, we created for lies, that cannot be changed by us.. that is where we are at today in Iraq.

            Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. --Brazil (1985)

            by hypersphere01 on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 11:26:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  ... (0+ / 0-)

              Withdrawing our troop from Iraq is most certainly a difficult task, one which must be competently and carefully, and one that must be done.  My issue with TomP is that he is saying that we need to get out now.  As if that is a plan any more realistic than "stay the course" or "just win, baby".  

              To me the most important parts of a withdrawl are that we can't leave a security vacuum and we can't leave a diplomatic vacuum.  Meaning that we can't just leave without at least handing security to someone. Even logistically that won't work, if we don't do something about security then the last troops in the country are sitting ducks with no protection.  We also can't leave without doing serious diplomatic work in the region.  We need a withdrawl plan that all of Iraq's neighbors agree with.

              That being said, we need to get out.  We need to make it perfectly clear we are not there for the oil, that we are not there long-term and that we are leaving as soon as we can.  We need to immediately take tangible steps (starting withdrawl) to prove to these things too.

              My main concern is that Democrats have control over very very little of what I just talked about.  It's all upon the Bush administration's defense department and state department and relying upon the Bush Administration to act competently is a recipe for disaster, to say the least.  

              So no matter how much people like TomP say that it's "get out now", that just isn't a realistic solution.

              "Why don't newscasters cry when they read about people who die? At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eye" - Jack Johnson

              by bawbie on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 12:04:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  get out now = get out safely (0+ / 0-)

                duh.

                you are making a strawman argument.

                Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. --Brazil (1985)

                by hypersphere01 on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 02:48:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Which part is a strawman? (0+ / 0-)

                  How, logistically, are you safely going to remove every security force that exists in a war zone?  

                  And how, logistically, are you going to move 150,000 people out of a country "now"?  Even if it weren't a war zone that would be a month long logistical challenge.  

                  "Now" just isn't practical. We are supposed to be reality-based here, but there is just no way to immediately remove all the troops from a war zone.

                  "Get out now" is the logical equivalent of "stay the course" and "just win, baby".  They are not reality based solutions.

                  "Why don't newscasters cry when they read about people who die? At least they could be decent enough to put just a tear in their eye" - Jack Johnson

                  by bawbie on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 03:22:42 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  i am not military (0+ / 0-)

                    but i read on this website that the military has evac plans.. so it's about getting our troops home safely as soon as possible.. now means begin the pullout.  begin the process.  not some strawman argument of now meaning today.

                    Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. --Brazil (1985)

                    by hypersphere01 on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 05:55:21 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Bush used "Stay the Course" as long (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    as the voters weren't paying attention.  His new plan (provided by Baker and Hamilton) will be a version "Cut and Run" although they will deny it.

    I think they'll call it "Snip and Run."

    (-7.75, -7.69) No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up - Lily Tomlin

    by john07801 on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:28:00 AM PST

  •  I don't think the US will leave that OIL (3+ / 0-)

    Nobody talks about it, but it drives the war in Iraq, and by implication, the GreatWarOnTerrah.

    "Get out now", unfortunately, is a fantasy.

    (gotta go, back later)(sorry for the hit and run)

    I think this conversation should be recommended.

    •  Maybe, (0+ / 0-)

      but the cost of oil in Iaq can be the loss of power for elites in the US.  

      Raise the tax on stock dividends from 15% to the tax rate on work (income tax).  They'll give up on Iraq to prevent it.  

  •  Good Questions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paradox, hypersphere01, TomP

    Good questions. If only the Bush administration had asked those sorts of questions before we invaded. The pitfalls you perceive indicate that you believe that we do not have the support of Iraq’s general population. You suppose that our troops are in grave danger whenever they turn their back. If that’s the case in Iraq, after four years of occupation that would mean the invasion, occupation, and reconstruction of Iraq has been a dismal failure, wouldn’t it? By maintaining that it is too difficult to withdraw you are conceding that our mission is a failure.

    Here’s a question for you. How long do we stay? Under what conditions would you declare this mission a failure and abandon it?

    We shall overcome, someday.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:53:44 AM PST

    •  I would have left years ago (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hypersphere01, suspiciousmind, TomP

      We lost any moral reason for staying the instant Abu Ghraib happened.  It has all been horrifically downhill since.

      We need to get out now.  All of our people.  We may have to leave behind a lot of equipment.

      We need to leave 2 divisions in Kuwait and cruise 3 Nimitz class carriers in the Gulf constantly.  For at least 5 years.

      It's bad enough we ruined that country in a flaming hell.  We can't let it happen to the region.

      If we get some stability I dream about reparation projects that help real people in Iraq and war crimes trials for Bush, Rummy and Cheney.  It's just dreaming.

      We have no idea what we've done to Iraq.  We will never live down the shame of it.

      I see no end at all.  Bush cannot competently manage a baseball team, how is he supposed to handle this?  Democrats have no tangible power here.  It's a horrible, horrible situation.

  •  Withdrawal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paradox, bawbie, vibinc

    will accelerate the inevitable collapse of the "unitary" Iraqi government and the Iraqi Army.

    Unless we provide security, the Green Zone will be breached and Baghdad will become Mogadishu with militias controlling neighborhoods. The Shiite government will relocate to the relative safety of Najaf and the all-out civil war will be on.

    There are two ways to look at this:

    1. We could try to withdraw in such a way as to minimize the carnage, perhaps by continuing to supply the Iraqi Army and prevent it from fracturing and being absorbed by various militias.
    1. All hell is going to break loose eventually anyway, so we might as well just get out of the way.

    There just aren't any good options left any more.

    •  our gov't is already planning on (0+ / 0-)

      taking the elected government out...

      they don't play ball, they get killed.  we only have to read our history books to see how this worked in the past.  the problem is a civil war is raging in Iraq.  the civil war went hot a year ago when the top Sunni's realized the government was a sham.

      they cannot manage their own people.  none of the groups can.  we created chaos and we cannot undue the damage.

      Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. --Brazil (1985)

      by hypersphere01 on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 11:30:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Phased Withdrawl, Say the Course, Benchmarks... (0+ / 0-)

    ALL RHETORIC.

    Some thoughts...

    1.  Senators don't make decisions on how many, or few troops are engaged, they provide oversight, which includes making recommendations to the executive.  Senator Levin can talk about "phased withdrawal" and the R's in the Senate can talk about "Stay the Course" or "Benchmarks" or whatever they decide.  Ultimately, the Executive makes the call, unless the Congress pulls the money away from the war, which would be devastating for the troops.
    1.  Senator Levin is right about one thing; the situation will continue to get worse until Iraqi's make the decision to take control of the situation.  This CAN happen in the presence of US troops, but there seems little will to accomplish it, which has been the justification for pulling out.

     If you have a teen ager that doesn't follow your rules, do you just walk away and hope it works out?  No, but excessive punishment may not be the answer either.  We have a responsibility to do everything we can to normalize the situation (make them the masters of their own destiny or act like adults or whatever).

     I think that our primary responsibility in this regard is to get basic services restored as quickly as possible.  Many in Baghdad still don't have more than 4 hours of electricity a day.  That's hardly an environment that can foster any kind of peace.  This serves two objectives;  it gives the people there less to be pissed about, and it puts more people to work, giving them less idle time to kill and maim each other.  Failing to accomplish this sooner was also our primary fuck up (excluding the invasion).

    1.  There is no such thing as an "immediate withdrawal" unless immediate means "the next several months".  It will take a long time and a lot of lost lives to get our troops out of Iraq in the current environment.  A retreat such as this would signal the the militias that they can kill and maim at will without any potential repercussions. Additionally, the vacuum that our absence would create would bring on more random killing ala Afghanistan in the post Soviet occupation.  Go back and take a look at how well that worked out.

     Finally, while I don't completely subscribe to the "Pottery Barn" rule that Colin Powell talked about, I do think that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to stabilize the region, INCLUDING bringing Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries on board to put more of a "local" face on the effort.  This seems somewhat unlikely without MAJOR concessions considering the rhetoric and weak foreign policy that this administration has engaged in, and Syria and Iran seem more than happy to watch us fail, still, it seems like our best hope.

     We had no business getting involved in this mess, and our inability to stabilize it after nearly 4 years just reinforces that reality.  Still, we do have a responsibility to FINALLY have some plan in place, whether it works or not, to get things under control before we start pulling out the troops en masse.

    /2cents

    "Those who would divide us will never be able to lead us."

    by vibinc on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 08:52:16 AM PST

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