Tag Archives: Iraq War

The Reason We Are in Iraq is to "Support the Troops"?

There have been so many “reasons” given by Bush as to why we are in Iraq. But it is a sorry state of affairs when the rationale for Congress continuing to fund the war turns into a debate about who is “supporting the troops” and the Democrats continue to respond to the issue on these terms.

If the issue is really about “supporting the troops“, then bringing them home now is the best way to support them. We can certainly do a better job at home than having to supply them with food and weapons half way around the world.

Why is the main stream media and everyone else seemingly buying into the idea that what the debate is about now is “supporting the troops“? Is it because all the other rationales given by Bush no longer make sense and this is his last desperate attempt to try to tug at the heartstrings of America? Why can’t someone just tell the Pretender Emperor he has no clothes?

What happened to fighting terrorism or bringing peace and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan?This war is Bush’s war and it has turned out to have been made on false assumptions and false premises and false expectations. But Democrats make a big mistake if they continue to respond to Bush’s false pretenses and phony concerns and attempts to re-frame the debate now into a false issue of “supporting the troops“.

The debate now should not be about “supporting the troops” and never should have been. Democrats are wrong to engage in Bush’s phony attempts to change the debate. Get real. Debate what our goals are in Iraq and what we can or can not do. Whatever happened in the past is done – make your decisions based on the present reality and then act. But what the hell does “supporting the troops” have to do with this?

Debate what we need to do next. Only after you’ve made that decision and come up with a plan to carry out with a time line do you discuss what you can do to support carrying out the mission. Only then do you discuss how to “support the troops” in their mission. But only after you reach agreement on a plan of action can you determine how to “support the troops“.

Bush really is saying, support what I am doing. The problem is Bush choose to ignore the concerns of Democrats and others when he started this war. He chose his own counsel and continues to this day to function in isolation, stubbornly ignoring concerns and suggestions of others, including the bipartisan panel on Iraq that he put together to deflect criticism and then whose recommendations he choose to ignore.

Bush seemingly has no end game or exit plan except to ride things out until his term in office is up. Then he can blame whatever bad outcome there is on the next President. Bush is praying that he will get lucky in the next year and a half but the chances right now seem worse than the odds on winning one of those Mega-Lotteries.

Molly Ivins Warned Us About Shrub

If only more in the media were as hard hitting and insightful as Molly Ivins was, we probably would not be in Iraq today. Molly Ivins, who died this week, warned us repeatedly but not enough people listened and acted on her insights. She  held Bush up to the light for all to see.

In her column entitled, “Call me a Bush-Hater” written in November of 2003, the clarity and directness of her style of writing tells us some of what we’ve lost with her death.

“Then suddenly, in the greatest bait-and-switch of all time, Osama Bin Laden doesn’t matter at all, and we have to go after Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11. But he does have horrible weapons of mass destruction, and our president “without doubt,” without question, knows all about them, even unto the amounts–tons of sarin, pounds of anthrax. So we take out Saddam Hussein, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, the Iraqis are not overjoyed to see us.

By now, quite a few people who aren’t even liberal are starting to say, “What the hey?” We got no Osama, we got no Saddam, we got no weapons of mass destruction, the road map to peace in the Middle East is blown to hell, we’re stuck in this country for $87 billion just for one year and no one knows how long we’ll be there”

“… what we need is the Big Picture. Well, the Big Picture is that after September 11, we had the sympathy of every nation on Earth. They all signed up, all our old allies volunteered, everybody was with us, and Bush just booted all of that away. Sneering, jeering, bad manners, hideous diplomacy, threats, demands, arrogance, bluster.”

“In Afghanistan, Bush rode a popular tide; Iraq, however, was a singular act of presidential will,” says Krauthammer.

You bet your ass it was. We attacked a country that had done nothing to us, had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and turns out not to have weapons of mass destruction.

It is not necessary to hate George W. Bush to think he’s a bad president. Grownups can do that, you know. You can decide someone’s policies are a miserable failure without lying awake at night consumed with hatred.

Poor Bush is in way over his head, and the country is in bad shape because of his stupid economic policies. If that makes me a Bush-hater, then sign me up.”

The complete column was also reprinted in Molly Ivins book, Who Let the Dogs in? Incredible Political Animals I have Known”, which was published in 2004. The words carry as much bite today as they did over 2 years ago.Thank you Molly for speaking truth to power.

Iraq War Really about Condoleezza Rice being Single?

Right Wing Attack Zombies have once again attacked a Democrat, this time Senator Barbara Boxer, in an attempt to divert attention from Bush’s War and the Old Time Media buys into it. It’s just as nonsensical as their buying into the same Right Wing Zombies spin diversion coordinated by the Republican Noise Machine when they attacked John Kerry’s Bush joke.

When will the media get out of the business of being manipulated and used by the conservatives to deflect criticism of the Iraq War? The New York Times gives right wing blogger’s and right wing radio attention and coverage on whether Barbara Boxer offended Condi Rice when she suggested that by Rice being single she didn’t have a close loved one in the firing sights over in Iraq. Ouch, the truth hurts.

The NY Times Headline, “Passing Exchange Becomes Political Flashpoint Focused on Feminism“. Excuse me, but doesn’t the media know what Bush and Rove and Rice are doing? It’s political jujitsu. Turn the questioning back on the questioner and make them the issue, thereby deflecting the original question. Flashpoint? No. Just an attempt to deflect questions that need to be asked and answered.

Here is Senator Boxer’s question as quoted in the International Herald

Who pays the price?” Boxer asked Rice. “I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family.
“So who pays the price? The American military and their families.”

The International Herald’s Headline: “Rice says single women can understand ramifications of war
Excuse me again but what does that have to do with Bush escalating his personal war in Iraq without having to be accountable to America? There is nothing wrong with Senator Boxer’s question. It’s time someone started asking these questions and demanding answers.

The New York Times noted that Rice had no comment at the time but later its attack time. Bush’s press propagandist, Tony Snow comments that he thinks Senator Boxer’s comments were anti feminist and “a great leap backward for feminism” Yes the Bush people should know all about feminism with their anti contraception positions and other regressive policies that are steps backward for women.

The media needs to call this line of attack crap and do their job ferreting out the truth rather than just parroting back the Bush propaganda line. But wait, say too much and Bush will exclude you from being able to ask questions at his press conferences, excusee me, indoctrination conferences. Shame on the media for being so docile and compliant in parroting the White House nonsensical attack.

As Babara Boxer says in the International Herald article:

I spoke the truth at the committee hearing, which is that neither Secretary Rice nor I have family members that will pay the price for this escalation,” she said. “My point was to focus attention on our military families who continue to sacrifice because this administration has not developed a political solution to the situation in Iraq.”

Thank you Senator Barbara Boxer for raising the issue and asking questions like these. Keep up the good work!

Rovian Timing of Saddam Death Penalty Just Chance?

Don’t tell me Karl Rove and Bush didn’t somehow have a hand in the timing of today’s announcement of the death penalty for Saddam Hussein. The verdict had previously been scheduled to be released earlier. But two days before a crucial election that will determine the fate of who controls Congress? Give me a break.

What better way to try to deflect Bush’s failures in Iraq than by having Saddam declared guilty today. It is brilliant election eve strategy to focus people’s attention on the one thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on – that Saddam was a murderous dictator that deserved to be punished.

You have to hand it to Rove and company for strategic timing. But American voters need to keep focused on the larger picture and keep the conviction of Saddam in perspective. His conviction was a forgone conclusion and not unexpected.

Tuesday’s vote is not about Saddam Hussein. The vote is about whether Republicans deserve to control Congress. The vote is about American’s future actions in Iraq. It is about many things that need to change in America.

Voters need to remember that Republicans retaining control of Congress would be a vote for staying the course in Iraq.
It would be a vote in favor of ignoring action to reduce global warming.
It would be a vote in favor of not working for real energy independence and for supporting the oil companies stealing from consumer’s pockets by their record profits.
It would be a vote in favor of opposing stem cell research and opposing decisions based on science rather than politics and religion.
It would be a vote decreasing citizen protections guaranteed in the constitution and for giving the President more power.
It would be a vote for opposing an increase in the minimum wage and a vote for opposing health care for all Americans.
It would be a vote to ignore helping students get a college education at a reasonable cost.
It would be a vote for drug company profits over senior citizens’ financial independence.
It would be a vote for eliminating audits of Iraq contracts

A lot is at stake. Do we want one party rule and secrecy and special interests and corporations dictating the future of our country or do we want to restore checks and balances against unbridled Presidential power and a Republican Congress that can’t police itself and which doesn’t address critical priorities?

Avoid the smoke and mirrors of Republican domination. A Democratic vote on Tuesday is a vote to put our country’s future first rather than special interests. A Democraic vote on Tuesday would be to put Democrats in power in Congress and end one party rule. A Democratic vote on Tuesday would be restore the system of checks and balances on power in Washington. A Democratic vote on Tuesday will be a vote to resolve the Ieaq conflict now, not pass it on to some future President.

Democrats need to keep in mind that even if they win one or both houses of Congress, the White House would still be run by Bush. He would be able to veto any legislation he doesn’t want and would probably now exercise this power. He would still control all the Agencies and Departments that he does now. But at least there would be a check and a balance on the Executive Branch that hasn’t been present under the unchecked and unbalanced one party rule of the Republicans now controlling both Congress and the White House.

It’s time for a change. Vote to put the Democrats in charge of the US House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Vote for Democrat Maria Cantwell for US Senate.

Vote for Democrats Darcy Burner, Peter Goldmark, and Richard Wright for Congress.

Easy Way to End American Deaths in Iraq

I woke up last night thinking, the answer is so obvious, yet Bush, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld all missed it. End the American deaths in Iraq by no longer reporting them to the American people.

As Frank Rich pointed out Sunday in the New York Times, that is exactly what Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki has done. He ordered his Health Minister to stop releasing any figures on the number of Iraq citizens being killed because of the increasing number dying in the civil war going on. It’s bad for morale.

Bush has already implemented part of this strategy. The U.S. Military only releases Iraq civilian death estimates quarterly and that’s only because Congress said they had to.

But the problem of the public and the world knowing what’s really happening in Iraq on a number of fronts goes way beyond efforts to “hide” the number of deaths of Iraq citizens. As Michael Yon of the Conservative Weekly Standard says the present press coverage of Iraq is censorship. He notes that “we have an “embed” media system that is so ineptly managed that earlier this fall there were only 9 reporters embedded with 150,000 American troops in Iraq. There were about 770 during the initial invasion.”

He says there is an an “all too real censorship of the U.S. war effort. I don’t use the word lightly. Censorship is a hand grenade of an accusation, and a writer should be serious before pulling the pin. Indeed, some war-zone censorship for reasons of operational security is obviously desirable and important……But we can and should complain when authorities willfully limit war reporting. We should do so whether it happens as a matter of policy, or through incompetence or bureaucratic sloth. The result is the same in any case.”

But alas Michael Yon is a little slow on bringing up this issue. We already have implemented this censorship not just in Iraq but also at home in the US. The deaths of US servicemen and women are shielded from public view. Note the official policy and censorship that prohibited the photographing of flag draped caskets of dead soldiers. Keep the dead out of the public view. Part of the “wisdom” of the old saying “out of sight out of mind.”

And as we’ve written previously this censorship includes keeping anyone who opposes Bush’s war policies away from him – like blocks away or even in jail.

So not releasing to the American public the names and numbers of soldiers would only be one more step in the censorship game. Bush could officially declare that releasing names and numbers of the dead aids and abets our enemy by letting them keep track of how many Americans have been killed.

We don’t want to increase the enemy’s morale do we? So the answer is – let’s stop releasing to the press how many soldiers have been killed or wounded. Afterall, if we’re “staying the course” by whatever name the Bush war cabinet wants to call it , does it really matter what the cost is?
The numbers can be released whenever the war is over.

The New York Times on Oct 10, 2006 reported that “A team of American and Iraqi public health researchers has estimated that 600,000 civilians have died in violence across Iraq since the 2003 American invasion, the highest estimate ever for the toll of the war here.

Americans who have died in the Iraq War now total 2814.
Soldiers from other countries killed – 232.
Americans who have died in Afghanistan 341.

Premature Celebration – Republican Style Iraq Planning.

The Republican controlled Congress, not wanting to be caught unprepared once again, as they were for Hurricane Katrina and post invasion Iraq, has already appropriated $20 million to pay for a celebration of America’s success in Iraq and Afghanistan.The only problem is they haven’t ended the war yet.

New York Times yesterday legislation passed by the Republican Congress empowers:

the president to designate “a day of celebration” to commemorate the success of the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to “issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Whoever originated this splendid act of Republican style planning surely would want to be recognized for their efforts . Yet as the NY Times notes no one has stepped forward.

“A spokesman for the Republican-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee said it was protocol not to identify sponsors of such specific legislation, unless they choose to name themselves.”

Yes,Yes, please step forward we would all like to give you a round of applause my friend. Finally someone is planning something, even if it is in fantasyland.
As the Seattle PI says in an editorial today “The Iraq War Celebrate! What?”

Republicans used to preach accountability in government. If the concept still had any meaning, Rumsfeld would have been sacked long ago. And House Speaker Dennis Hastert would have paid attention when a key member started harassing pages. But, hey, let’s have a party. Just like the one that, as Bob Woodward describes in his new book, the White House held on an aircraft carrier three years ago to declare victory in Iraq.

Is Karl Rove Laughing his Head off at Washington’s Progressives?

Of course! If Karl Rove wanted to misdirect progressive Democrats away from the national strategy of taking control of the U.S. Senate and/or House, what better way than to have the Democrats fighting each other over, of all things, Bush’s never ending War in Iraq.

It’s time for those Democrats who question Senator Cantwell’s position on Iraq to realize that Iraq is not her war. She did not start it but she is part of the dialogue looking for a solution. She is a member of a minority party. Republicans run Washington, not Senator Cantwell or any other Democrat.

Democrats are fighting amongst themselves about a war they didn’t start and about which they and the American people were lied to by Bush. Meanwhile these same Democrats ignore other things the Republicans and Bush are dismal on, like not raising the minimum wage over the last 10 years or not fighting global warming or not aggressively working for energy independence from foreign oil or Bush’s giving tax breaks that only increase the share of the money the very rich have.

This issue was discussed several weeks ago in MSNBC’s Newsweek Politics.Rove’s Trap
The president’s strategist is politicizing the Iraq war for partisan political gain. Will the Dems figure out how to fight back?

Lets pick just one quote from that article : “….It’s very Rovean; they’re trying to turn a weakness into a strength.” Another Democratic strategist noted the irony that after four years of no accountability on the mistakes made in prosecuting the Iraq war, the administration was hanging Democrats out to dry. This strategist called it “reverse accountability” shift the blame to those not in charge.”

shift the blame to those not in charge” Can it be any clearer?

Left wing peace and progressive Democrats in Washington State are falling into this trap. They are doing Karl Rove’s dirty work by attacking Senator Maria Cantwell on Iraq. They are dividing the Democratic Party because she is not willing to sign off on some left wing purity test which one commenter on my previous blog post phrased as having her say “she was either duped, pressured or just flat wrong” when she joined 29 other Democrats in the US Senate who voted in 2002 to give Bush authority to invade Iraq.

Frankly I don’t know what this would do to get us out of Iraq. As I’ve said before this is George Bush’s war. Republicans control the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate and the Presidency. Democrats are the minority party and do not control any committees and can not conduct any hearings on the Iraq War.

And yet some progressive Democrats continue to attack Senator Maria Cantwell like this is her war and she has some kind of stronghold over what happens? If Senator Maria Cantwell suddenly changed into a Russ Feingold Democrat, what would that do to end the war? Nothing – because it does nothing to change the fact that the Democrats are the minority party and do not have the votes to do anything. Congressman Jay Inslee has commented in the past how Democrats in Congress are not even consulted on bills the Republicans run – there is no bipartisanship going on in Washington DC. We have a one party government and that is a Republican Party controlled government.

For the life of me why aren’t these progressive Democrats putting pressure on Mike McGavick about his position on Iraq. Am I missing something here? Because if there are some of you who do like you say and won’t help Cantwell get elected and won’t vote for her then you are supporting McGavick for Senate and are acting to support Karl Rove and George Bush and the Iraq War as it now stands.

Strategic thinking is important. What is it you want to accomphlish? Will you do that by the tactics you are using or are you falling into a Rovean trap?

Lets look at what Cantwell’s opponent says on Iraq.

Going to McGavick’s website there is scant information on Iraq: I could find only these two written statements.

The U.S. cannot retreat from the War on Terror or countries like Iraq will turn into the worst hotbeds of terror the world has ever witnessed.

U.S. forces will come home from Iraq when the job is finished. Setting a timetable for troop pullout gives the advantage to America’s terrorist enemies.

These statements say very little except that McGavick supports Rove and Bush and Rumsfeld. The reality is McGavick is a vote for Bush’s War in Iraq. This is the alternative to Senator Maria Cantwell?

Some people are upset that Mark Wilson is no longer challenging Senator Maria Cantwell in the Democratic primary. I would argue that there really was not much of a challenge going on in the first place. Wilson publicly stated on the David Goldstein show on KIRO 710 radio that he never really intended to file for the Democratic Party primary but was trying to give a voice to opposition to the war. Huh?

While I can appreciate Wilson trying to raise important issues in the Democratic Party – maybe he was just a little bit dishonest in trying torepresent himself as a serious candidate for U.S. Senator. Or maybe he is just trying to put a face saving spin on the fact that his campaign didn’t get the support he needed to run a successful race and he didn’t want to be known as the Democrat who helped Mike McGavick get elected.

But to anyone looking at the state Democratic Convention in Yakima last month it was obvious that Wilson never stood a chance. While I support progressives and consider myself one, there really is no organized unified progressive movement in Washington state. That was obvious when the “Progressive Caucus” met at the state convention.

There was no organized game plan of how to increase the influence of progressives in the party and when volunteers were asked to help recruit more, the hands raised were few. Mark Wilson attended the caucus but he did not seem to have a vision of how to organize the state. It appeared that he was waiting for others to put it together.

I mention this because any organized movement is difficult. But it does need leaders and it does need a plan. It needs vision and it needs people ready and willing to help. I saw well intentioned good people involved but it was not going to help Mark. He was on his own.

As a result Mark Wilson never was a really viable candidate, having neither the money or volunteers or widespread backing to run a statewide campaign against the incumbent.

I believe it’s time for progressives to move on. A few vocal voices and bloggers do not make a movement. We need to not make Washington a swing state in the Senate race, so national Democratic resources need to be directed here, at the expense of other Democratic candidates.

Besides helping Senator Cantwell get re-elected, we need to assist in races where new Democrats can win – like Darcy Burner (WA-8) and Peter Goldmark (WA-5). Picking up seats in Congress to give Democrats a majority in at least one branch of Congress will be the best strategy to end the War in Iraq.

Asking Senator Maria Cantwell to submit to some progressive purity test right now won’t mean anything if Democrats don’t win control of the U.S. House and/or Senate.

This election is certainly a referendum on Iraq for Bush. Unfortunately if Democrats don’t pick up seats in Congress, it will be used as an confirmation by Bush that the American people support his position on Iraq. And we will have missed our best opportunity in 6 years to change American politics for the better.

Iraq is Bush’s War, not Senator Maria Cantwell’s!

President Bush started the Iraq War, not Senator Maria Cantwell. It was a preemptive war that was started based on false and erroneous information. Senator Cantwell has previously acknowledged that, “If we knew then what we know now there probably never would have been a vote by Congress to go into Iraq.” At the time the majority of Democrats voted 29 to 21 to support Bush.

Mark Wilson, who was an anti-war candidate running against Cantwell on the war, ended his campaign on Sunday. He has joined forces with Cantwell, believing that they share similar goals of ending the war. In a Seattle PI article he is quoted as saying they agree that “there must be no permanent American bases in Iraq.”

Mark Wilson position is welcomed by those of us that believe the primary objective of this election year must be for Democrats to gain control of the Senate and the House. Politics is the art of compromise and practicality. Mark Wilson has realized that while he has made the Iraq War a campaign issue he did not have the resources or supporters to mount a serious challenge. Continuing his campaign would have done more to hurt efforts to end the war than help.

Senator Cantwell has not been a lover of Saddam Hussein, and in fact voted to support the current President’s Father in what is now known as the “Gulf War”. There is no way a thinking, caring person is going to say that they supported the type of dictator Saddam Hussein was or the murderous way he kept power in Iraq.

Cantwell took a tough vote along with many other Democrats in 2002. As CNN noted on Oct. 11, 2002 , “the Senate early Friday voted 77-23 to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to give up weapons of mass destruction as required by U.N. resolutions. ….The Bush administration and its supporters in Congress say Saddam has kept a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons in violation of U.N. resolutions and has continued efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Bush also has argued that Iraq could give chemical or biological weapons to terrorists. “

As we now know this rationale, has since been discredited and was based on faulty information. But at the time many Democrats joined with the Republicans in voting to give Bush authority if necessary to invade Iraq based on what they were told by the Bush Administration. In fact 29 Democratic Senators voted yes, not just Maria Cantwell.

Here is a list of those Democrats: Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Biden (DE), Breaux (LA), Cantwell (WA), Carnahan (MO), Carper (DE), Cleland (GA). Clinton (NY), Daschle (SD), Dodd (CT), Dorgan (ND), Edwards (NC), Feinstein (CA), Harkin (IA), Hollings (SD). Johnson (SD), Kerry (MA), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), Miller (GA), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Reid (NV), Rockefeller (WV), Schemer (NY), and Torricelli (NJ)

If you still really feel passionate about this issue log onto Act for Change and send Cantwell an e-mail about how you feel about her vote. But at some point we literally need to move on. Cantwell has and is looking for solutions to get us out of Iraq. Cantwell’s Republican opponent is not going to oppose Bush’s war policies. If Cantwell loses it will be an affirmation for the war, not a vote against the war. A Republican win is another vote to support Bush.

Senator Cantwell is calling for setting milestones for getting out of Iraq. On David Goldstein’s show Sunday night on KIRO 710 she said that “This year is the time to turn the sovereignty and security issues over to Iraq”

She emphasized that last year’s 79 to 19 vote by Democrats and Republicans calling for starting to bring the troops home this year was a turning point. It was a contrast to Bush’s “head in the sand approach.”

Sound leadership means setting goals and expectations. Cantwell is committed to a structured withdrawal from Iraq based on setting milestones , holding people accountable and ending Bush’s blank check policy of war in Iraq.

Because that is what the Republicans just voted for in opposing a timetable to get out of Iraq. They voted for blank check warfare.

Iraq has become the never ending war George Orwell wrote about in 1984. A perpetual war keeps the people in fear and allows for their domination. War is Peace was a Government slogan. . When you say it, “war is peace”, isn’t this what Bush is saying because otherwise to him the only alternative is “cut and run”.

Senator Cantwell is opposed to this idea of a never ending war that the Bush lack of leadership is foisting on the American people. Cantwell sees’ “lots of twists and turns” and acknowledges that there is less water, less electricity and less oil than before the war. Yet she sees optimism in the recent vote of Iraqis for their government. She called it “impressive.” She witnessed people bringing their children with them as they voted. Children were sticking their fingers in the blue ink, taking part in the process.

The number one priority Senator Cantwell sees is to get the Iraq Security Forces trained, which she says General Casey has said will be happening by the end of the year.

In addition Senator Cantwell believes more effort needs to be made to get other countries who pledged support to follow through. She noted some $13 billion of outstanding commitments from other countries exists. “Let’s get it into Iraq” says Cantwell.

She believes our countries best interests are served by trying to get more more countries involved and supports a bipartisan effort by previous Presidents Bush and Clinton getting involved.

Listening to Senator Cantwell speak on Goldstein’s show let’s one see why Mark Wilson would quit his candidacy to support Cantwell. On the radio Mark Wilson acknowledged to Goldstein that his chances had been a long shot. He also reached the conclusion that working to elect a Democratic majority in the U S Senate would more likely happen by working to re-elect Senator Maria Cantwell than by continuing his efforts to debate the issues. Besides he noted, he’s not independently wealthy nor was there a large enough network of moneyed supporters for him to wage a serious primary challenge.

Senator Cantwell Clearly Says Once Again "Bring the Troops Home"

This last Saturday Senator Maria Cantwell was a surprise speaker at the 46th Legislative District Democratic Caucus. She once again said that this was “the year of transition in Iraq“and that we needed “to bring the troops home.”

On April 17, 2006 in the Seattle Times she is quoted as saying the same thing:

2006 needs to be a year of transition, and I’m fighting to get the Iraqi people on their feet and get our troops home,” she said.
Did you think we needed to get rid of Saddam Hussein? “Yes, and on the resolution I haven’t changed my mind. I’m going to talk to them [anti-war Democrats] about what I think we need in 2006, and they can make the judgment on that.”

The “Bring the Troops Home” statement has also previously been reported on twice by the NPI Blog. So it is not a new statement but it appears to be Cantwell’s official position. She also has met with representatives of groups opposing the Iraq War. You can read some lengthy observations by others of that meeting at WashBlog.

When I had a chance to question Senator Cantwell after her speech to the Democrats, she again stated that her position under Bush on getting rid of Saddam Hussein is consistent with her position in 1993 when Clinton was President.

Regarding her vote giving Bush authority to go to war against Iraq and Saddam Hussein, however she also told me, If we knew then what we know now there probably never would have been a vote by Congress to go into Iraq.”

Regarding Iran, Cantwell deplored Bush’s “saberrattling” and said “he needed to ratchet things down.” Rather than starting at the highest level of confrontation, she said he should “drop talk of a nuclear weapons strike and start with direct contact, talking and negotiation to try to reach resolution.

Cantwell’s current position on Iraq is based on a resolution passed by Congress called the Warner Frist Amendment, Amendment 2518. A press release by Senator Karl Levin dated Nov 15, 2006 presents a small amount of discussion on the issue when it was before the Senate. It passed by a vote of 79 to 19. Levin had proposed stronger wording in an initial version.

Thirteen Republicans voted against the watered down amendment which set no specific timeline for withdrawal. Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is also running to succeed Bush, was one of those. Senators Cantwell and Murray voted for the amendment.

The Senate Resolution represents a significant turning point in the Iraq War. A good discussion of this is presented at the Council for a Liveable World’s Withdrawal from Iraq Blog.

the reality of the symbolism is that most of the media and the political establishment view the Senate votes as a watershed. Most in both camps say that the Senate is abandoning Bush’s “stay the course” policy. Senators have read the polls and the election results. The President’s policies have been repudiated.
…it is now perceived wisdom that Bush is losing both parties on the war. It is now virtually impossible to turn the clock back. This widespread interpretation also brings the war’s end a bit closer by fueling the drive to exit.
Some argue that the vote only gave Republicans and potential Democratic presidential candidates cover. Whether that it true or not, many such candidates are now on record for a phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq and for telling the Iraqis that the U.S. will eventually depart.

Cantwell and the Democrats are shaping the issue and moving forward by declaring 2006 as the year of transition in Iraq. Reports required by the resolution on progress in getting out of Iraq are to be given to Congress.

Nevertheless I think it is important that more specific goals and dates be set. This is the way you run a successful operation, just like a business plan and without more specifics no one’s feet are held to the fire.

There is a more specific plan that looks appealing to me. It is titled “Strategic Redeployment – a Progressive Plan for Iraq Against Violent Extremists” and was written by Lawrence Korb, a Reagan administration assistant defense secretary and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress.

First published on Sept. 29, 2005 Brian Katulis last month published a commentary in tPhiladelphiapha Inquier as a followup, entitled Strategic Redeployment Best of All. I think the basic thesis of the plan is sound and deserves serious consideration.

As Karulis points out:

President Bush’s “stay-the-course” message offers nothing new to an impatient American public. It merely restates a failed policy that only further increases the burden on American taxpayers, weakens U.S. ground forces, serves as a rallying cry for al-Qaeda, and fails to stabilize Iraq.

The Strategic Redeployment Plan is pretty straight forward:

The plan calls on the Bush administration to encourage Iraqi leaders to take control of their country by saying the U.S. military is going to leave Iraq and set a timetable for doing so. The proposal says the United States should draw down its troop presence from its present level of 136,000 to 60,000 by the end of the year, the remainder to virtually zero by the end of 2007. It also encourages more vigorous diplomacy in the region and in Iraq, to bring the country’s factions together.
The gradual drawdown would allow U.S. troops to continue providing crucial support to the nascent Iraqi security forces. But the plan also clears the way for a political solution and recognizes that current troop levels are unsustainable without a draft. If we still have more than 130,000 ground soldiers in Iraq a year from now, we will destroy the all-volunteer Army. Keeping such a large contingent of troops there will require the Pentagon to send many units back to Iraq for a third time and to activate reserve and Guard forces a second or third time.

The United States can not impose its will on an unwilling country. We need to acknowledge that we have successfully removed a despot from running Iraq but also realize that the future depends on Iraq citizens taking responsibility for their future. At this point the longer we stay without an end point, the more likely that ultimately a civil war will split Iraq into opposing religious factions.

As Katulis states:

The key to strategic redeployment is that it acknowledges up front that Iraq’s problems cannot be solved by American boots on the ground. A timetable for withdrawal will spur Iraq’s battling factions to try harder to reach a compromise before U.S. troops leave.

Memo to Dean: How about a "Secret Plan" to End the War in Iraq?

As reported in today’s Seattle Times, Washington State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz delivered an important message to Howard Dean and the National Democratic Party meeting in New Orleans.

Dwight is not someone to mince words. I appreciate that. Someone has to tell the Emperor he has no clothes. Democrats at the top need to listen.

While not on the agenda, Iraq was raised in a meeting Dean had with state party officials Friday.

Washington State Party chairman Dwight Pelz told Dean the party’s murkiness” on Iraq was causing problems with the rank and file and that tension between activists and the national party leadership in Washington could sap their energy this fall.

“I understand it’s always better to have a lot of passion around an election,” Dean said. “But what more passion could we possibly invoke than stopping George Bush from continuing to destroy the country?”

Responded Pelz: “It’s not working.”

Well one reason it’s not working is that Iraq ranks up there as one of the major concerns of voters, yet the first sentence quoted above says it all “While not on the agenda….”

You have the Democratic National Committee holding a three day meeting in New Orleans and Iraq is not on the agenda? I could believe that if it was Bush meeting with Congressional leadership, but the Democrats?

Dean said he wanted to talk more about finding a consensus, but later this year and behind closed doors.

“I do not want to air our differences of opinion in front of the esteemed Fourth Estate. This is a serious discussion … we’re going to find a way to do that in a private setting.”

Aides said the meeting had not been scheduled, and they did not know if it would happen before or after the November elections.

“The Democratic Party is continuing to evolve on Iraq … There is much we have in common,” Dean said. “While we don’t have an ironclad timetable, we’re heading in the right direction.”

I can think of a better one than that. How about one five word sentence? Brief, clear, and concise. We have a “Secret Plan. It worked for Richard Nixon.