Sunday, February 11, 2007



William E. Odom, a retired Army lieutenant general, teaches at Yale, but when Reagan was president Odom was head of Army intelligence and director of the National Security Agency. Today's Washington Post published a thorough analysis of Bush's Iraq "strategy" by General Odom-- the kind of analysis rarely seen in the mass media and I very much recommend that every DWT reader spend some time going over it. Short version: Victory is not an option.
The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq starkly delineates the gulf that separates President Bush's illusions from the realities of the war. Victory, as the president sees it, requires a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American. The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat.

Its gloomy implications -- hedged, as intelligence agencies prefer, in rubbery language that cannot soften its impact -- put the intelligence community and the American public on the same page. The public awakened to the reality of failure in Iraq last year and turned the Republicans out of control of Congress to wake it up. But a majority of its members are still asleep, or only half-awake to their new writ to end the war soon.

The pro-war Rahm and Steny team that has managed to grab effective control of the House Democratic caucus-- largely through the machinations of otherwise-progressive Iraq war supporters like Henry Waxman-- is part of the majority still soundly asleep-- or at least (in Emanuel's case) feigning sleep.

Don't get me wrong; there are plenty of Democrats-- and even a couple dozen Republicans-- who are now wide awake and as sure as the American people that this war has to end and end fast. Yesterday David Espo did a story for Associated Press that focused on congressional Democrats who are working to end the war, instead of the Emanuel-Hoyer conspirators who are determined to waste time and energy on symbolic, nonbinding resolutions while Bush goes forward with his escalation inside Iraq and readies an attack on Iran.

Last fall Blue America contributors had a powerful feeling that some of the strongest advocates for ending the war would be veterans and we supported candidates like Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak, both now Pennsylvania representatives. And neither has disappointed. Murphy was the first freshman to sign on to Jack Murtha's redeployment legislation (binding) and last week Admiral Sestak introduced his own legislation to end the war. Sestak, like most Democrats, said he will vote for the Emanuel-Hoyer symbolic sham resolution... "but it's insufficient. I think eventually without a question that we will have the House move to that position. The country is already there." My guess is that by the time Pelosi and Murtha and the House Democrats manage to circumvent the obstacles Emanuel and Hoyer are putting up to block this kind of move, the two craven and wily politicians will have positioned themselves at the front of the parade.

Next week we get the nonbinding symbolic crap on the House floor, a resolution most antiwar Democrats (and all Republicans) know is worthless. "Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Democratic leadership have firmed up support for the measure by repeatedly promising it will be followed by binding legislation. 'Our goal is to end the war,' one Democrat quoted Pelosi as saying at a recent private caucus." So is Cheney's and Bush's.

Jack Murtha seems to be offering a middle way that will lead to checking the Bush Regime's insatiable lust for blood. Many antiwar Democrats don't feel its strong enough.
Rep. John Murtha, who heads a subcommittee with jurisdiction over defense spending, told reporters he hopes to add a provision to the bill that would forbid the Pentagon from sending additional troops "unless they have adequate training and unless they have adequate equipment."
Murtha, D-Pa., said he believes the Army may have no units that can meet those standards, meaning Bush's attempt to increase the number of troops in the war would be checked.
The measure also may be amended to forbid creation of any permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq and razing the Abu Ghraib facility that was at the center of a prisoner torture scandal.
Murtha said it is possible the bill will also call for the closing of the facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, except in the case of several dozen detainees who will stand trial.
In the complicated politics of the war, the spending bill would face daunting hurdles.
Democrats determined to end the conflict have said they will not approve any more money to keep it going. Republicans who support Bush's policy would be unlikely to support limits on his power as commander in chief.
Unlike a nonbinding measure, legislation is always subject to a presidential veto.
But opponents of the war, their strength increased in last fall's congressional elections, say public opinion is moving their way.
"Increasingly, Republicans are uncomfortable and in public disagreement with the president's plan," said Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. She said she favors withdrawing the troops "as soon as practicable."
"The only votes that make a difference to the president is the power of the purse," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., who called for the war's end two years ago.
Democratic presidential politics figure in the Iraq debate, too.
In the House, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has an 11-point plan to end the war.

Even hawkish Democrats who have supported Bush all along, like Clinton and Biden, are now-- as they seek the presidency-- trying to come up with proposals to end the war... kind of. The test of their sincerity? Do they support Russ Feingold's or Ted Kennedy's proposals in the Senate or Jim McGovern's, Sam Farr's, Lynn Woolsey's, Joe Sestak's or any number of real war-ending bills in the House? Forget Biden and Clinton and their political gamesmanship. I doubt any Democratic presidential candidate self-burdened with the reprehensible Inside-the-Beltway consultants and pollsters will ever take a real leadership position on ending the war. We'll have to watch and see if Obama or Edwards proves me wrong.


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