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Since I can't talk with him and the rest of the Defund the War Lions over on his GBCW diary, I'll post it here.

Not sure how much I can stick around, but please give me some ideas if you them.

I want to believe.

I really do.

Here is where I am in agreement with the Lions:

  • The issue is far too important to be constantly bogged down by discussions on individual candidates. Enough with the 2008 Presidential Election already – especially on this issue.
  • The only practical way to force the president to exit Iraq without help from Republicans is to go down the defunding path. We only need a simple majority to try defund our involvement in the War in Iraq. The budget battle will be fierce, but it is possible to win it.
  • By announcing our date for defunding and sticking with it, we gain a political advantage over Bush and company.
  • All this talk about forcing other plans is just talk as we don’t have the votes.

But here is my sticking point, in some detail:

Removing American troops from the field in Iraq is only half the equation. We need a plan in place to at least try minimize the violence after we leave. I have been asking for responses to this issue over the past few days, and they have varied around three basic themes...

  1. We don’t have the right to interfere with how the Iraqis solve their internal problems. I would agree except for the obvious counterpoint. We were wrong to start the war, but since we did, we now have the responsibility to try minimize the violence.
  1. We simply don’t know what will happen when we leave. Things may actually get better. While it’s true we don’t know with certainty what will happen, we have the ability to reason what could or likely would happen. Many of us recognized the long standing feud between the Sunnis and the Shiites before Bush and Co started the war and warned of a possible civil war. It’s seems strange to now say things just might get better between them. If anything, their anger has intensified in the past four years. Both sides have plenty of money and easy access to weapons and ammunition. Assuming things will get better is at best a stretch. At worst it is like wishing for ponies.
  1. All out civil war is inevitable. By staying, we only delay the bloodshed and will ultimate make things worse. Ok, if this is really true, then I will back the plan to defund the war now. But is it? For the past four years, we have only relied on plan A. The surge is simply plan A on steroids, it is no different at it’s core. We have yet to try other containment ideas which include separation of the warring sides for a cooling off period and defunding of both the Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militias. There are other options out there. They may not work, but is there no chance?

Here’s the real question. Don’t we owe it to the Iraqi people to try another plan before we simply pull out and say ‘have at it guys’?

And how do we get this plan in place? Well there’s the rub. Since we can’t force Bush to enact any detailed plans in Iraq on our own, we can’t force him to put in place any good measures to reduce the long term trend towards chaos in Iraq before we leave. All we have is the defunding option. This only gets half the job done.

In short, Part 1 of any good Iraq strategy (Timetable for a US Pullout) is doable under defunding but Part 2 (Doing What We Can to Avoid All-Out Civil War) is not. Since we cannot force Bush’s hand on Part 2, I find I cannot ultimately support the defunding idea.

So why should the Defund the War Lions (see my last diary) care if they can win me over? After all, I’m just some dude with a keyboard, a place to vent to people I like, and a single ‘little’ issue I’ve tried to but can’t get around.

Well, I believe that unless we can come up with some answer to Part 2, we will have a hell of a job convincing the American people to support defunding when the inevitable budget battle heats up to full temperature. A hell of a job.

Any ideas? Like I said, I really want to believe.

Originally posted to Stranger in a strange land on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:17 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    I guess. I dunno about this place some days. But overall, I just can't seem to quit all y'all.

  •  The shooting should be a dead giveaway (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amitxjoshi, peraspera, MajorFlaw

    They don't want us there anymore.

    klaatu barada nikto

    by JohnGor0 on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:19:00 PM PST

    •  Well of course (0+ / 0-)

      They don't want us there. They want to be free to kill each other without much interference. But nevertheless, don't we owe them a chance at better than this?

      •  Who's we? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jimreyn, MajorFlaw, Pete Rock

        We didn't want to go in the first place.

        We said it would pretty much degenerate into exactly this back in the fall of 2002.

        We were being called pussies and traitors for believing all of the debunking of the reasons for war that have all come to be embraced by the popular media. Every single one. Every. Single. One.

        As soon as we leave, Iraq will become the Middle East's Spanish Civil War. Where did America stand on that one?

        Everyone who wants to put on a helmet, dig into a foxhole outside of Fallujah, and stay there when the U.S. leaves, raise your hands.

        If you're at home right now, you've obviously made your choice.

        klaatu barada nikto

        by JohnGor0 on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:33:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Correct (0+ / 0-)

          On points made.

          So let the chaos reign, I suppose. That sucks all the way to eleven, is what I'm really saying.

          •  it does suck (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            amitxjoshi, MajorFlaw, Pete Rock

            But if we leave today, a civil war breaks out. If we leave 6 weeks and 200 U.S. deaths later, a civil war breaks out. And you know what? If we leave 2 years and 2000 deaths later, guess what happens? A civil war breaks out.

            We would have to stay and prop up a weak government for 10-20 years before it begins to have any semblance of permanence, and you know what? Once we leave...

            Guess what happens?

            klaatu barada nikto

            by JohnGor0 on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:50:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JohnGor0

              As I said above, if civil war is inevitable I will support the Defund the War Lions. All the way to the bank.

              But I'm not 100% convinced it is, since we've only tried the same friggen 'plan' in the place four years running now. This is what's so hard for me, do we owe them a different approach on the ground before we just leave?

              I'm burdened by the thought of a huge escalation in the overall violence levels. I've seen some numbers as to their funding and arming levels, and we ain't seen nothing yet.

              •  I would agree that we owe them more (4+ / 0-)

                in the way of diplomacy. If president fuck-wad would actually sit down with Syria and Iran, perhaps we could negotiate our way out.

                But if we leave right now, the Saudis will ramp up the funding of Sunni extremists. The Iranians and Hezbollah will then ramp up, and voila! Regional Civil War.

                This is not about us destablizing a region. It's about 1500 years of animosity within the Muslim world. We're a mere pothole on that road.

                klaatu barada nikto

                by JohnGor0 on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 10:06:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JohnGor0

                  We need other actions, including working with Syria and Iran, before we just leave.

                  Since we can't force him to take these actions, and we can only try to force him to pull our troops out, I struggle with supporting the idea of defunding. We need additional leverage to help out with Plan B.

                  And yes, we are merely a pothole.

                  •  This administration... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    amitxjoshi, TexDem

                    Does not even have the ability to negotiate. So we stay there for two years, with our puds in our hands, waiting and hoping for someone to get sworn in, nominate a cabinet, and begin negotiating. September 2009 before we even get anywhere.

                    klaatu barada nikto

                    by JohnGor0 on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 10:12:30 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  It's unrealistic to expect this crew to do (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    TexDem, JohnGor0

                    anything resembling diplomacy.  On our way in to Iraq they managed to piss off Turkey, a much closer ally than Syria or Iran will ever be;  that's quite an accomplishment.  What exactly is he gonna offer Syria and Iran?  I suppose he could offer to take Iran off the "axis  of evil" leaderboard  but what will he do for Syria--promise not to nuke them?  It looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and this lame duck doesn't do diplomacy.  I'm afraid that hoping for a negotiated settlement from the decider is equivalent to wishing for flying ponies.

              •  The Bush Cabal only have one Plan (0+ / 0-)

                Any other option has to be forced upon them. Or we do the best we can, encourage international cooperation through ex parte  negotiations or open appeals from the floors of the House and Senate with promise of confirmation when this cabal is gone or can be reasoned with.

                (I'm waiting to be pummeled) I know this is a bad precedent but these are unprecedented times.

                -4.00 -5.44 "A man who chooses not to read, is just as ignorant as the man who cannot read" Mark Twain

                by TexDem on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 08:01:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Breaks out? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TexDem

              Try "already broke out", John. The first step to defeating your problem is to admit you have a problem in the first place.

              The problem is that the Civil War is in full steam ahead mode.

      •  We "owe" them? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        amitxjoshi, TexDem, jimreyn

        We "owe" them the recognition that any human being owes another.  That involves the right to do what the aggrieved party requests that we do.

        If you honestly think we "owe" Iraqis something they don't want . . . I suggest you read Riverbend.

        Nothing is worse than Americans sitting in America debating what is "best" for Iraqis.

        Why don't we ask them?  Why are we debating this at all????

        "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

        by LithiumCola on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 10:02:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You have ONE HELL of a nerve (3+ / 0-)

    credibility is not enhanced by persistence in counterproductive policies... The reinforcement of failure is a poor substitute for its correction

    by Pete Rock on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:36:59 PM PST

  •  Well 3 Years Ago It Would've Needed (3+ / 0-)

    another quarter million occupation force to maintain the peace, more or less.

    What size occupation would it take to establish peace now that we've got a well armed civil war underway?

    A great comment a few days ago:

    When you've got a bull in a china shop, you don't keep him in there till comes up with a plan to fix the china.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:37:05 PM PST

    •  There are (0+ / 0-)

      Ideas out there, but none of them are great, and all have a risk factor.

      But your analogy isn't perfect. The china isn't just sitting there waiting to be broken.

      The truth is the War (from our end) has been over for years.

      The Iraq War today is between the Sunnis and the Shia. We are in the way. But since we unleashed this mess, is it right to just leave without trying another plan? We really haven't tried anything else, as the R's admited again just this past weekend. As long as they are in charge, we won't try anything different either.

      •  I say we take (0+ / 0-)

        Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowicz, Pearle, Hadley, Feith, Bremer et al and put them in the middle of Baghdad with the same equipment they have provided our military, no other support and tell them to go work it out.

        Et al includes all those young politicos that took civil jobs the had no business doing and all those other hacks starting with James O'Beirne. And all those talking heads, Friedman, Novak, Kate O'Beirne (yes, they're re related, husband and wife), etc.

        To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

        O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade
        .

        -4.00 -5.44 "A man who chooses not to read, is just as ignorant as the man who cannot read" Mark Twain

        by TexDem on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 08:28:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  oops meant to be the lead in to this (5+ / 0-)

    statement: there are nearly 2 million Iraqi refugees-people with some connections, a working automobile or money that could flee.  They are many sorts :
    teachers, doctors,small and large businesspeople who are flatly out of hope and scared to death for themselves and their families.

    Many of them are attempting to help OTHER members of their families leave.... and half a  millionat least have died already.  that is a huge disaster for Iraq.
    Occupying it and playing games like support some Shia militias, then some Sunni militias without a clue about what to do,and terrorize everybody by turns...

    No . Absolutely no. There is no competence to marching around jabbering English and threats and shooting people on purpose or by accident.

    Get them OUT of there.

    There are a million embittered Palestinians..now there are two or three million embittered and homeless Iraqis added. What is that going to become in the years ahead? The Kurds in Iraq have to make an accomodation with Turkey to avoid a huge upsurge there over a "Kurdistan".

    Saudi Arabia needs a revolution. USA is either going to carry on like an imperialist power hungry despot or it will reassert a moral and just policy.  That is what we can work for, and getting out of Iraq occupation is necessary or it will be a terrible burden undermining everything decent in our own country.

     Iraq has no chance to survive occupied. It will be like the Israelis with Gaza, West Bank, etc, only it  becomes even worse. The rest of the Arab world will coalesce around a showdown with their  tormentors.

      And by that I mean the people pointing guns and threatening them with nuclear fire and brimstone.

     If the Democrats lack the guts to push for serious change now, they will be caught up in a much  wider war that will suck our economy and our standing into hell.

     We don't have the luxury of contemplating a ten year, twenty year occupation.  Three years after the Defense Departement  sold Iran F14's, there was a revolution and all the military advisors and technicians and US embassy people were thrown out or hostages.

      A legacy of an earlier coup 26 years before the Iranians never forgot about.

     We need to leave on these terms: with the neighboring countries making a deal to safeguard and protect the people left behind. There is concern and interest there to do that.

    credibility is not enhanced by persistence in counterproductive policies... The reinforcement of failure is a poor substitute for its correction

    by Pete Rock on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:57:39 PM PST

  •  Wrong. (8+ / 0-)

    We don’t have the right to interfere with how the Iraqis solve their internal problems. I would agree except for the obvious counterpoint. We were wrong to start the war, but since we did, we now have the responsibility to try minimize the violence.

    Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong.

    (Not personal to you, sorry.)

    That is the worst kind of obfuscation.  We have a responsibility, since we wronged the Iraqis, to do what they wish us to do.  What they wish us to do is leave.

    Pretending we have a paternalistic responsibility to do "what is best for Iraqis" is just a way of not doing what they unambiguously want us to do: end the occupation.

    Our "responsibility" begins and ends with shedding the goddamn ego to think we have any right whatsoever to decide "how to reduce the violence" through our occupation, which they don't want.  

    "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

    by LithiumCola on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 09:59:53 PM PST

    •  OK (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LithiumCola

      That's an excellent response. Not taken personally at all.

      I'm not trying to obfuscate. Goodness, I want this thing to be over.

      They want us to leave, yes. Our current plan hasn't helped them, we've just made things much worse. But is it possible to make things any better before we leave if we take a different approach?

      And they will just as likely really want someone to step in if the worst happens when we do leave.

      Look, as I keep thinking to myself, if all out civil war is inevitable then screw it, of course let's get out now.

      Do you believe it is?

      •  I believe it doesn't matter. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grndrush, TexDem, jimreyn

        I believe the moral imperative here is to avoid, at all costs, implementing a plan.

        We have no right to say anything, do anything, plan anything, intend anything, hope anything, want anything, ask anything, force anything, cajole anything.  NOTHING.

        Those are human beings over there, for goodness' sake.  WE.  ARE.  OCCUPYING.  THEM.

        I don't know how to be clearer than this.

        You ask what plan would be morally right for us to implement.  My response: the absolute only decent thing we can do is not implement a plan.

        "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

        by LithiumCola on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 10:10:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Almost there (0+ / 0-)

          I really am.

          Need to sleep on it. Thanks for the dialog.

        •  Late to thread, devil's advocate... (0+ / 0-)

          Worrying about whether we're being paternalistic and arrogant - ironically enough - seems strangely narcissistic.  It isn't all about us, after all.

          Yes, there are human beings over there - and many of them are civilians whose lives could be destroyed by a civil war that we helped to create.

          If I had a choice between being labelled paternalistic, and knowingly allowing a country to slip into civil war for a generation... I'd swallow my pride and take the criticism.

          Having said that, I'm not sure that this is the choice that we face in Iraq.  It might be if there was a clear alternative to withdrawal that would have a good chance of success.

          Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale... A.E. Housman

          by ignatz uk on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 02:08:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Compare: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jimreyn

        Russians in 1985, having this exact same discussion about Afghanistan.  Or England, 80 years ago, having this exact same discussion about India.

        "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

        by LithiumCola on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 10:14:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Brits didn't do to well in Iraq 80yrs ago (0+ / 0-)

          Somewhere I was reading about an Iraqi talking to one of these young Americans trying to impose something. The Iraqi asked the young American if he had read about the British in Iraq during the twenties and the American boastfully replied; "Yes". To which the Iraqi replied; " I thought so, your trying to repeat every mistake the British made."

          -4.00 -5.44 "A man who chooses not to read, is just as ignorant as the man who cannot read" Mark Twain

          by TexDem on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 08:44:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I know what you're saying. (2+ / 0-)

    I finding a lot of arguments for withdrawal to be, well, a little flippant.

    I believe that Peter Bergen, who opposed the war, also opposes a withdawal now.  You might want to look it up in his new book.  I would if I had the time.

    In the meantime, here's what Clark had to say last week.

    The real danger is, and one of the reasons this is so complicated is because -- let's say we did follow the desires of some people who say, “Just pull out, and pull out now.” Well, yeah. We could mechanically do that. It would be ugly, and it might take three or four months, but you could line up the battalions on the road one by one, and you could put the gunners in the Humvees and load and cock their weapons and shoot their way out of Iraq. You'd have a few roadside bombs. But if you line everybody up there won't be any roadside bombs. Maybe some sniping. You can fly helicopters over, do your air cover. You’d probably get safely out of there. But when you leave, the Saudis have got to find someone to fight the Shias. Who are they going to find? Al-Qaeda, because the groups of Sunnis who would be extremists and willing to fight would probably be the groups connected to al-Qaeda. So one of the weird inconsistencies in this is that were we to get out early, we’d be intensifying the threat against us of a super powerful Sunni extremist group, which was now legitimated by overt Saudi funding in an effort to hang onto a toehold inside Iraq and block Iranian expansionism.

    •  Okay, as long as you're (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      think blue

      admitting that we aren't occupying Iraq for the benefit of Iraqis, fine.  That's at least a comprehensible position.

      "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

      by LithiumCola on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 10:18:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Assuming things will get better is at best a (0+ / 0-)

    stretch. At worst it is like wishing for ponies"
    I could easily use those words to describe the surge.

    I see defunding as a political rather than practical question.  Junior has made it clear that he has neither the intention nor a plan to get us out.  As long as he is nominal commander in chief and refuses to entertain the idea of bringing this freak show to a conclusion the troops are staying whether or not congress votes to cut off funding.  OK, so what if congress defunds the war--will it change anything?  I'm afraid the answer is no.  Just another inconvenient fact that shrubbie will simply ignore.  I doubt it is in our interests to provoke a constitutional confrontation, particularly with the numbnut majority on the SCOTUS.  
     

    We were wrong to start the war, but since we did, we now have the responsibility to try minimize the violence.

    I disagree.  Haven't we done enough for the poor Iraqis already (that's snark if it isn't clear).  It's patronizing to assume that our presence there is preventing rather than contributing to the violence and instability.  Nobody knows whether when we finally leave Iraqis will be able to get their act together or civil/religious war will follow.  Iraqis deserve the opportunity to make their own future and will never get that satisfaction from a government that we choose, arm and provide "muscle" for.  If civil war breaks out--so be it.  We don't really understand what they want yet we presume to know what they should want and believe that only we can provide it.  It's called hubris. The honest wingnuts (if that's not an oxymoron) would describe an Iraqi civil war as letting them fight each other over there rather than us having to fight them over here.  

    The bottom line is that, barring some off the chart event we are not gonna get out until junior leaves office.  Once you accept that fact we are left with an historic opportunity to take the WH, keep the house and establish a fillibuster proof majority in the senate.  That doesn't happen very often and I don't want to blow it with pyrrhic and ineffectual victories.  Although I am firmly in the "get the fuck out now" camp I think of the time between now and 1/20/09 as the opportunity to "try another plan before we simply pull out and say ‘have at it guys’?"    Perhaps it will work.  Nah, it won't work but we might as well use the time productively.  

  •  Seperation and cooling off... (0+ / 0-)

    We and the Iraqi factions are not the only actors in a post-occupation Iraq.

    The Saudis brokered the Fatah/Hamas seacefire with Iranian co-operation, despite theier own longstanding differences.

    Both will have an interest in defacto partition.

    The Turkish/Kurdish axis is the source of greatest risk in this scenario. We, or the Europeans could end up in a function more police than military along this border to reassure the Turks against attacks mounted from iraqi kurdish soil.

    Democratic Candidate for US Senator, Wisconsin, in 2012

    by ben masel on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 12:13:04 AM PST

  •  What's this "we" business? (0+ / 0-)

    You said:

    "...but since we did, we now have the responsibility to try minimize the violence."

    I've got an issue with this "we" thing. It's fallacious. I've been in the American Midwest all of this time. Maybe you went to Iraq, but I never left the North American continent and certainly never advocated an armed invasion of Iraq.

    You might think I'm being facetious. I'm not. The responsibility of the warmongers is first and foremost to quit waging war. Decent people feel compelled to persuade them so.

    Get a spine.

    "... if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band..." -- Murray Rothbard

    by bradspangler on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 01:16:54 AM PST

  •  I past being a 'Lion' a long time ago. (0+ / 0-)

    As far as I'm concerned, any suggestion that we have any control of the situation in Iraq is a megalomanical delusion.

    We're not riding a tiger, we're riding a whale.

    Step One: Get off the fucking whale.

    Civil war? No shit. Genocide? Probably? Millions of deaths? Inevitably. A permanent black mark on the moral reputation of the American People. Well, it'll be one for the history books anyway.

    Here's a little lesson from law enforcment: when there's a domestic dispute, standing between the combatants will get you killed. It puts your back to one or the other of them and puts you in between the blows of both of them. If you want to control the situation, you stand to the side and face them both.

    If you're not in favor of defunding, you want to stand between a drunk husband with a baseball bat and a cracked-out wife with a butcher knife, so you can try to keep them apart.

    IMHO, that's insane. I'm not going to do it.

    No matter how long you want to try it in how many different ways, I'm not game. I don't care if you make moral arguments or rational arguments or how many important people you line up to endorse the latest plan: I'm not going to stand in between  them. If I'm not willing to go, I'm not interested in sending someone else.

    If you want to defund the White House first, fine. If you want to defund the Secret Service and the White House guard, go right ahead. If we defund 'the War' and the President says 'fine! I'm leaving the troops there!'... I'll bring the gasoline and you bring the bottles.

    I don't understand why we should expect Congress to defund the war if it won't impeach the President, so this is all a silly intellectual exercise. But, hey, what's the 'net for if not bending your brain over an impossible future?

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