Friday, October 13, 2006

Republicans: We Deserve to Lose

This is the quote from a David Broder column that appeared in today's Lexington Herald-Leader:

"If I have heard it once, I have heard it a dozen times: Major Republican figures, including top officials of several past GOP administrations and Congresses, say, "We deserve to lose this election."

I wonder if Newt Gingrich was in that group.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Was It Just Optimism?

The chief of the British Army, Gen. Richard Dannatt came out in favor of a British withdrawal today. According to Gen. Dannatt, the presence of British troops are "exascerbating" the security problems in Iraq rather than making them better. Gen. Dannatt added that the original Bush/Blair plan for Iraq might have relied more on "optimism" than anything else.

"Optimism" might be a mild term for the Bush administration's initial ideas for occupying Iraq.

Plan 1:
The first Bush "plan" was to:
1. install Ahmed Chalabi as the new Iraqi leader;
2. retain most of the Saddam Hussein administrative apparatus;
3. pay for Iraq's reconstruction through oil revenues.
4. Get out after six easy months.

Plan 2
The second Bush plan was to train an Iraqi military to take over the fight against the insurgency from the American military with an assumption that the U. S. would have drastically weakened the insurgency.

Under Plan 1, the new bosses would be pretty much the same as the old bosses except that the Chalabi at the top would be answerable to the Bush administration instead of the ghost of dictators past like Saddam.

However, Chalabi was a convicted felon in Jordan, had no popular base in Iraq, and could not be taken seriously because of his lack of connection with the Shiite religious establishment.

There also was no chance that the long-suffering Shiite majority was going to tolerate the continued operation of Saddam's bureaucratic apparatus.

The first Bush plan was ludicrous from the beginning.

Plan 2 was not as obviously hopeless as the original plan, but still has failed.

The primary problem has been the Iraqi military and police forces. At best, the Iraqi military is more loyal to their ethnic groups and militias than they are to the Iraqi government. At worst, they have been riddled with insurgent infiltrators.

The middle ground is also discouraging. The Iraqi military and police often been unwilling to fight the insurgents the American way, preferring to form death squads on the side. In a weirdly ironic development, the death squads have replaced the American military as the primary opposition to the insurgency in Baghdad. As a result, American generals are in the awkward position of trying to make the world's best army relevant to the Iraqi sectarian bloodbath. There's some implicitly "good"news there in the sense that the Shiite population can defend itself, but it now looks like the American legacy in Iraq is going to be years, perhaps decades, of slaughter.

Right now, it takes optimism to see any kind of stable situation emerging in Iraq. Anything else is just delusion.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Five Things I Think About North Korean Nukes

1. Axis of Evil 2, Bush 1. With North Korea testing it's nuclear weapon despite five years of Bush administration blustering and the Iranians bankrolled Hezbollah's successful defense against the Israelis, the Bush administration's only win against the Axis of Evil has been the invasion of Iraq, a victory that divided American government, undermined American global credibility, and weakened the American military. Like the Greek king Pyrrhus, the Bush administration can't afford many more such victories.

2. Did the Bush Administration win or lose? It would appear that the Bush administration's strategy of cutting off contact with the North Koreans didn't work. The Bush administration certainly failed to successfully pursue the American interest of keeping the North Koreans from having nukes. But does the Bush administration care about American interests. It seems not. Once the North Koreans didn't cave in to the Bush administration's blandishments, the Bushies seemed to lose interest. Maybe they didn't care whether North Korea had nuclear weapons.

3. Birds of a Feather. Evidently, the North Korean test did blow off nuclear material even though it was generally unsuccessful. That creates a symmatrical status quo. The U. S. has a failed missile defense system to protect us against North Korea's failed bomb.

4. The Democrats. Do the Democrats have a North Korea policy or did they get lost on the way to the game? Again

5. The Real Threat. Sure, Kim Jong-il is eccentric and unpredictable, but North Korea's bomb is only half the size of Hiroshima, North Korea doesn't have al-Qaeda supporters in its military and intelligence services, and Kim doesn't have to deal with a weekly assasination attempt. That's why I'm much more worried about Pakistan than I am about North Korea.