Friday, November 03, 2006

Congress says Pentagon returning to "non-wartime footing" in Iraq

You've probably heard by now that the Pentagon's Inspector General overseeing Iraq is being canned. But relax, it's only because the war's over:

Mr. Holly, who is the House Armed Services spokesman as well as a member of Mr. Hunter’s staff, said that politics played no role and that there had been no direction from the administration or lobbying from the companies whose work in Iraq Mr. Bowen’s office has severely critiqued. Three of the companies that have been a particular focus of Mr. Bowen’s investigations, Halliburton, Parsons and Bechtel, said that they had made no effort to lobby against his office.

The idea, Mr. Holly said, was simply to return to a non-wartime footing in which inspectors general in the State Department, the Pentagon and elsewhere would investigate American programs overseas. The definite termination date was also seen as helpful for planning future oversight efforts from Bush administration agencies, he said.

So, despite whatever you've been hearing about permanent military bases in Iraq, and American military forces staying in Iraq for another three years or until 2017, whichever comes first, any reports about Iraq being the central front on the war on terror have as much credibility as a wad of plegm.

But seriously, even though AmericaBlog blames the GOP--they do run the Capital, after all--what I wanna know is, where were the Democrats on this when the provision was being added in conference and when it came back to the floors of both houses for votes? Hello?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"The Pursuit of Happiness is Harming America"

Andrew Sullivan has clip of Rick Santorum saying this.

Over and over the Republican U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, and Republican Marjority Whip in the Senate by the way, claims in this interview that it's wrong to do what you want to do as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else (the basic view of liberty made famous by John Stuart Mill) .

Instead, Rick Santorum and the Republican Party believe you and I have a responsibility to them and to their religious beliefs and personal preferences. That's conservatism today, that's the ruling party's mantra today. Needless to say, that philosophy is the very anti-thesis of American liberty. Santorum claims he's basing his views on America's "founding documents" but he runs roughshod over the first one--The Declaration of Independence, which famously states that people have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Rick Santorum and the Republican Party don't agree.

If you value human liberty, vote Democrat. Vote to restore the values of American liberty and to restore the good name of American Liberalism, which has been dragged through the dirt far too long.

I'm Senator Jay Bulworth, and I approved this message because I am scared to death of what an authoritarian Republican majority comprised of people like Rick Santorum will continue to do with two more years of power.

Personal Responsibility: Republican Edition

V.A. Senator Blames Scuffle on Campaign Foe

Miss America Conservatives

Mark Schmitt speak, you listen.

h/t to Scott Lemieux at TAPPED for the link

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What Would James Webb Do?

Glenn Greenwald points us to a 2002 Washington Post op-ed by James Webb, in which the former Reagan official and 2006 Democratic Senate candidate from Virginia argues against an invasion of Iraq. I've included the full essay below. Check out the headline. Sounds eerily prophetic, huh? We can't say we weren't warned. Because we were.

Do we really want to occupy Iraq for the next 30 years?

By James Webb
Wednesday, September 4, 2002; Page A21

Country music's most popular song this summer is a defiantly nationalistic tune by Toby Keith, in which he warns potential adversaries that if they mess with us, "we'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way." Last week the Chinese government showed us its way. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had brought a conciliatory gesture from the Bush administration, agreeing to recognize a separatist group in China's Xinjiang province as a terrorist entity. This diplomatic contortion was so appeasing that the Economist magazine labeled its logic "astonishing." And yet the day after Armitage left, the Chinese government sent its own political signal by "test-firing" a DF-4 missile, which has a range of more than 4,000 miles and was designed to attack U.S. military bases on Guam.

The implied disrespect of this incident did not occur in a vacuum, either militarily or diplomatically. As our country remains obsessed with Saddam Hussein, other nations have begun positioning themselves for an American war with Iraq and, most important, for its aftermath. China, which has pursued a strategic axis with key Islamic nations for nearly 20 years, received the Iraqi foreign minister just after Armitage's departure, condemning in advance an American attack on that country. Russia has been assiduously courting -- both diplomatically and economically -- all three nations identified by President Bush as the "axis of evil." Iran -- the number one state sponsor of international terrorism, according to our own State Department -- has conducted at least four flight tests of the nuclear-capable Shahab-3 missile, whose range of 800 miles is enough to hit U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Central Asia.

Meanwhile, American military leaders have been trying to bring a wider focus to the band of neoconservatives that began beating the war drums on Iraq before the dust had even settled on the World Trade Center. Despite the efforts of the neocons to shut them up or to dismiss them as unqualified to deal in policy issues, these leaders, both active-duty and retired, have been nearly unanimous in their concerns. Is there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and a long-term occupation of Iraq? And would such a war and its aftermath actually increase our ability to win the war against international terrorism? On this second point, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the Joint Chiefs vice chairman, mentioned in a news conference last week that the scope for potential anti-terrorist action included -- at a minimum -- Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Georgia, Colombia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and North Korea.

America's best military leaders know that they are accountable to history not only for how they fight wars, but also for how they prevent them. The greatest military victory of our time -- bringing an expansionist Soviet Union in from the cold while averting a nuclear holocaust -- was accomplished not by an invasion but through decades of intense maneuvering and continuous operations. With respect to the situation in Iraq, they are conscious of two realities that seem to have been lost in the narrow debate about Saddam Hussein himself. The first reality is that wars often have unintended consequences -- ask the Germans, who in World War I were convinced that they would defeat the French in exactly 42 days. The second is that a long-term occupation of Iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of force levels elsewhere, and could eventually diminish American influence in other parts of the world.

Other than the flippant criticisms of our "failure" to take Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, one sees little discussion of an occupation of Iraq, but it is the key element of the current debate. The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years. Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade and stay. This reality was the genesis of a rift that goes back to the Gulf War itself, when neoconservatives were vocal in their calls for "a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad." Their expectation is that the United States would not only change Iraq's regime but also remain as a long-term occupation force in an attempt to reconstruct Iraqi society itself.

The connotations of "a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad" show how inapt the comparison is. Our occupation forces never set foot inside Japan until the emperor had formally surrendered and prepared Japanese citizens for our arrival. Nor did MacArthur destroy the Japanese government when he took over as proconsul after World War II. Instead, he was careful to work his changes through it, and took pains to preserve the integrity of Japan's imperial family. Nor is Japanese culture in any way similar to Iraq's. The Japanese are a homogeneous people who place a high premium on respect, and they fully cooperated with MacArthur's forces after having been ordered to do so by the emperor. The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam. Indeed, this very bitterness provided Osama bin Laden the grist for his recruitment efforts in Saudi Arabia when the United States kept bases on Saudi soil after the Gulf War.

In Japan, American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. In Iraq, they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets.

Nations such as China can only view the prospect of an American military consumed for the next generation by the turmoil of the Middle East as a glorious windfall. Indeed, if one gives the Chinese credit for having a long-term strategy -- and those who love to quote Sun Tzu might consider his nationality -- it lends credence to their insistent cultivation of the Muslim world. One should not take lightly the fact that China previously supported Libya, that Pakistan developed its nuclear capability with China's unrelenting assistance and that the Chinese sponsored a coup attempt in Indonesia in 1965. An "American war" with the Muslims, occupying the very seat of their civilization, would allow the Chinese to isolate the United States diplomatically as they furthered their own ambitions in South and Southeast Asia.

These concerns, and others like them, are the reasons that many with long experience in U.S. national security issues remain unconvinced by the arguments for a unilateral invasion of Iraq. Unilateral wars designed to bring about regime change and a long-term occupation should be undertaken only when a nation's existence is clearly at stake. It is true that Saddam Hussein might try to assist international terrorist organizations in their desire to attack America. It is also true that if we invade and occupy Iraq without broad-based international support, others in the Muslim world might be encouraged to intensify the same sort of efforts. And it is crucial that our national leaders consider the impact of this proposed action on our long-term ability to deter aggression elsewhere.

The writer was assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration.

The ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq, the likely necessity of a decades-long occupation of Iraq, the barreness of any meaningful national security rationale, Webb hits it all, six months before the invasion. As Glenn Greenwald, Matt Yglesias, Atrios and others have continued to point out, this is what serious foreign policy understanding looks like.

Newt Gets Religion (Just in Time for the 2008 Presidential Election Cycle to Begin)

In case you haven't heard, former House Speaker and rumored 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, has a new book out. Amazingly, it's about religion and the state. Who'd a thunk it?

From Publisher's Weekly:
This brief mandate by Gingrich, the architect of 1994's conservative congressional manifesto "The Contract with America," opens with a battle cry: "There is no attack on American culture more deadly and more historically dishonest than the secular effort to drive God out of America's public life." The book's arguments are predictable: Gingrich claims that references to God are sprinkled everywhere in our nation's founding documents; that most Americans believe in God; and our classrooms and courtrooms are the laboratories where such belief is being irrevocably eroded.

He trots out quotations from founding fathers that suggest their allegiance to Christianity or at least to theism, but conveniently ignores evidence that some of these men—particularly Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson—believed religion should have little, if any, role in the nation's government. If the book's thesis is tired and essentially unpersuasive, its unique contribution is its innovative, even brilliant, method of organization. Gingrich presents his arguments as a "walking tour" of the nation's capital, beginning with the National Archives and winding through the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Capitol, White House and other sites. This structure does much to freshen up a book that is otherwise indistinguishable from prior offerings by Pat Robertson and David Barton.

So Newt shares the pain of fundamentalists who won't rest until all of America is placed under their yoke.

But for Newt's sake, it's probably better that American law and politics isn't based too precisely on holy writ, because The Newtie is on wife #3, each successive wife getting younger as he gets older. And unless his divorces were biblically justifiable--meaning that the first two wives had engaged in proven acts of marital infidelity and that he himself had not--Newt's an adulterer. And that would be against Commandment Number Seven, and against Jesus's New Testament instruction.

This report on Republican Intolerance and Hypocrisy has been brought to you by the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party. I'm Senator Bulworth, and I approved this message.