"We have to make responsible decisions in the Congress that are not
driven by the dissatisfaction of anybody who wants the war to end
tomorrow," Pelosi told the gathering at the Sofitel, arranged by the Christian Science Monitor.
Though crediting activists for their "passion," Pelosi called it "a
waste of time" for them to target Democrats. "They are advocates," she
said. "We are leaders."
"Dissatisfaction"--as if the experience of thousands of American deaths, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, the squandering of trillions of dollars and the moral bankrupting of America was equivalent to a buying a toaster that didn't work as expected. And "we are the leaders" sounds very, very close to "I'm the decider." I'm rooting for Cindy Sheehan to unseat her.
UPDATE: I'm not the only one dismayed by Madame Speaker. David Allen is positively enraged.
The word "mercenaries," of course, does not appear in the New York Times' version.
But this quote does:
The witness on Karada Street, Muhammad, said he was angry, but not at
the contractors. “We can’t blame the contractors,” he said. “We blame
our officials for this. We blame the American government. They’re
working here under the authority of the Iraqi government. They did not
come here without authority.”
I don't think that shooting women for not wearing headscarves is what Islam is all about, any more than hating homosexuals is what Christianity is all about. However, the fact that women are so frequently the target of those who would wield power in the Middle East explains, in part, why that region of the world is so backward and benighted in the current era. A culture that so often produces men who feel compelled to violently deny women's rights is a culture that is only half of what it could be. (h/t to Big Pharaoh)
There is a lot more Democrats could do to change, or at least
challenge, the politics of the war in Washington, even if they do not
have the numbers to impose new policies on President Bush.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could force a vote a day over
Iraq. She could keep the House in session all night, over weekends and
through planned vacations.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could let filibusters run
from now till Christmas rather than yield to pro-war Republicans.
Such tactics might or might not be politically sensible, but in
their absence, anti-war lawmakers can hardly say they have done
everything possible to challenge the war and bring attention to their
Instead, the Democrats are walking into a trap of Vietnamesque proportions. Come January 2008, they may well control congress and the presidency and be stuck fighting a war that a significant majority of Americans wants no part of. Then just watch how long it will take the GOP to gin up a "peace with honor" platform.
At first glance, Bush's recent comparison of the situation in Iraq to the Vietnam War was puzzling to me. After all, as John Cole points out, the right wing noise machine has expended considerable energy denying that Iraq is Vietnam redux.
But now I get it. Bush's speech is entirely consistent with the strategy he has relied on for six years: if you can't win the fight you're fighting, start another fight.
After 9/11, the United States attacked al Quada and its Taliban allies. We succeeded in knocking the latter out of power in Kabul, but Bin Laden and his gang escaped (due in part to our attempt to outsource our 9/11 response to the Northern Alliance). Having bungled the opportunity to destroy al Quaeda, Bush & Co. started another fight, the Iraq war. Once again, we succeeded in driving a vicious government out of power, but failed to effectively deal with the non-state warriors who sprang up in the power vacuum we created.
So now another war must be launched--anything to keep the public's mind off the mess in Iraq. Neocons dream of marching to Tehran, but even those who are not members of the reality-based community must understand that we simply do not have the manpower to fight in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. (Not to mention the fact that attacking Iran would be a colossal foreign policy blunder from which the U.S. might never recover.)
Instead, Bush has decided to start a war of historical revisionism. I guess he figures this is one he might actually win, and even if he doesn't, the only casualties will be the historical facts and a few academics. Another advantage: just as launching the war in Iraq pushed Bush's failure to decapitate al Qaeda right off the evening news, so his Vietnamese gambit has, momentarily at least, displaced discussion of the here and now in Iraq.
Nightmarish political realities in Baghdad are prompting American officials to curb their vision for democracy in Iraq. Instead, the officials now say they are willing to settle for a government that functions and can bring security.
A workable democratic and sovereign government in Iraq was one of the Bush administration's stated goals of the war.
But for the first time, exasperated front-line U.S. generals talk openly of non-democratic governmental alternatives, and while the two top U.S. officials in Iraq still talk about preserving the country's nascent democratic institutions, they say their ambitions aren't as "lofty" as they once had been.
"Democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future," said Brig. Gen. John "Mick" Bednarek, part of Task Force Lightning in Diyala province, one of the war's major battlegrounds.
So we didn't invade Iraq to take away Hussein's (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. We're not there because of (non-existent) links between al Qaeda and Iraq. We're not there to maintain (non-existent) security in Mesopotamia. And now we're not there to install a (non-existent) democracy.
Obama, Clinton and Dodd: good for you. These three senators voted against the cave-in-to-Bush Iraq war funding bill. The bad news is that there were only 11 other senators--and only 8 other Democrats--who did so. Here are the courageous 14:
Boxer (D-CA) Burr (R-NC) Clinton (D-NY) Coburn (R-OK) Dodd (D-CT)
There are some unsurprising entries in this list, and some that really hurt. Sherrod Brown, Carl Levin, Jim Webb and Jon Tester: ouch. If these men won't stand up to the President, it's time to find some who will.
I'm trying to keep telling myself that it's the Republicans who bear primary responsibility for keeping the war going. They do--but the Democrats who bear primary responsibility for stopping it.
What is the point of having control of Congress if the Democrats simply do Bush's bidding?
Let's see: no pullout date. No withdrawal timetable. No revocation of the authorization to use military force. Instead, for working their asses off in last year's Congressional elections, the Democratic base gets "benchmarks" which, if missed, "could" cause Halliburton's monthly check "reconstruction funds" to be cut, but which cuts the President could waive if he thought it "necessary." Oh yeah, and Bush has to send Congress some book reports and an essay on How I Spent My Summer Vacation.