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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Earth to Baird: "You screwed up, my friend"

Brian Baird, the Vancouver congressman, is getting his chops royally busted by many of his constituents for his recent declaration that the United States needs to keep a large force in Iraq for a long time. I'm not the least bit surprised. Those of us who rejoiced at the election of a Democratic Congress last fall are getting mighty restless waiting to see some results, on just about anything having to do with the war. So far, we're hearing one excuse after another about why we can't come to our senses and get on with the inevitable bloodbath in Iraq, without first wasting time with a decade-long (or longer) half-a*sed occupation. If Democratic representatives were smart, they'd either get with the program that the party voters clearly want, or go into hiding. Baird hasn't been smart enough to do either.

Somebody, somewhere in our federal government needs to be working on a plan that starts a serious withdrawal now, and gets it done with the minimum amount of damage (which will be substantial nonetheless). America needs to get ready to see the dancing in the streets by the terrorists, and to take the months of insults from around the world about what losers our war makers turned out to be. We need to do what we can to help contain the chaos that's coming, but as for losing, it's going to happen, and let's face it, given whom we put in charge, we pretty much deserve it.

Baird's still engaged in the extreme delusion that we're going to "win" something in Iraq:

"I have to believe that there is a quiet majority of people out there who think the war has been a terrible mistake, but they sure don't want to see us lose," he told The Columbian editorial board earlier Monday.
Brian, Brian, Brian. It's not that we are going to lose. We have already lost. The whole thing was doomed from the start. The goals were fake, and when they were revealed as such, no realistic goals ever replaced them. A stable central government in Iraq is never going to happen, unless we make it the 51st state. Meanwhile, the kids just keep coming back in coffins. Bloody, ugly, embarrassing defeat is coming sooner or later -- why not today?

The sudden intransigence on the part of the entire Democratic "leadership" on this issue has many voters boiling over with anger. I suspect Messrs. Blumenauer and DeFazio are going to hear some of the same loud catcalls if they don't get off their bike pants and get something done in the direction of a pullout pretty soon. Then there's Hillary, whom so many people would pay good money to heckle, just on general principles.

Want to screw up the 2008 Presidential election? The Democratic Party is well on its way. Another Nader fiasco could be right around the corner.

Comments (29)

Until I came to the quote in which Baird talked about "winning" the war in Iraq, I thought you were being a little hard on him. Now I don't.

Nonetheless, I have to admire the guy for sticking to his guns (pun intended) in front of large and hostile crowds of constituents. He's not acting like your ordinary, garden-variety, pandering politician on this issue.

Brian has spent considerable effort stuying the matter including travfeling to Iraq and seeing first hand the circumstances and challenges our troops and foreign policy face.
How is it then those who are screaming at him know better?
How do you know "We have already lost"?

That's a reasonable question.
Brian went public to explain how and why he has his current position.
Should not his critics do the same?
Instead of screaming at him that he screwed up?
Today Iran is saying it is ready to step in and take over Iraq. Is that a good thing?

Three quick points.
1)Baird did not say "win". He said "they sure don't want to see us lose". Big difference. Particularly since it isn't over yet - sorry Jack, we disagree on whether the Fat Lady has sung.
2) Outside of what seems to be personal conviction, he seems to be trying to get the Democratic Party out of a lose-lose. If Democrats engineer an immediate pullout, the slaughter should peak about the time of the 2008 elections. That is not going to elect Democrats. Alternatively, if th Democrats do not engineer an immediate pullout, then the Democrat base gets upset and, again, that is not the way to elect Democrats.
3)Let's not forget that we have decades of experience of what we get from running from this Islamist problem. Carter started the ball rolling when he ran from the Shah and put the Islamic nut cases in charge of Iran. Then he ran from the Embassy seizure. After that every U.S. President ran from the Islamists. Reagan ran. Bush(1) ran. Clinton ran - many times, even from an attack on the World Trade Center (U.S. soil). Indeed the entire world ran every time it was attacked. Bush(2), after seeing 3,000 Americans slaughtered in the U.S., finally figured out that running does not work, so he tried something else. It's clear that Bush(2) , Rummy, et al. got pacification wrong after quickly routing the IRAQ military. But why they got it wrong, and what they were trying to accomplish, is an interesting topic. Back to the point, since running does not work, what should someone like Baird do when his party base wants to run?

The democrats are really in tough place too and as time passes it is not getting any easier. The longer the democrats fail to articulate a unified, well reasoned plan and timeline for Iraq, the more polarized and reationary the various democratic hopefuls will be in regards as to what they would do with Iraq in January 2009. Their opinions will be increasingly vague and poll-driven.

The republicans all but conceed that the election is lost so they benefit most by not withdrawing the troops and throwing the problem in the lap of the new president. Thereafter, the republicans can sit back after Jan '09 and place the blame of the ensuing chaos on the new president.

If the democratic candidates were smart they would work together to have a unified vision for the future of Iraq and limit the debate on Iraq to how we got there in the fist place. Nothing good will come from them taking shots at each other on Iraq but fail to articulate any meaningful strategy.

There is NO , NO difference between Bush and Baird on this issue. Baird needs to go. This is the ISSUE, the only Issue. Dem's need to stop apologizing for Baird, Hillary and the rest. Earl needs to get off his bike and do something other than please his fellow deamers of a beautiful society. None of them is worth a s--t

"[...] his recent declaration that the United States needs to keep a large force in Iraq for a long time."

But that's exactly what we should have expected before the war even started. The message that needs to get out there is: "The Bush administration was dishonest by not making clear in 2002 that a large, long occupation was a likely result of this unnecessary war. Now we're stuck cleaning up their mess."

Entry into the war was a one-way trip. Bush committed us to body bags coming home from there until at least 2012*, and the Democrats are fools to not make it clear that he owns every last one until then no matter who the next President is.

The Democratic base is wrong here, and it's harming the party. They're attacking their own for not instantly and satisfactorally resolving an impossible situation. They fail to see that the Democrats elected in '06 are not the ones pulling a bait-and-switch here; the con was pulled several years previously.

If you guys don't stop mutilating yourselves pretty soon, you may actually lose the White House in '08.

[*: Or to Iraq becoming a client state of Iran if we withdraw too soon. They will achieve a stable government in Iraq, but we won't like the process much. Never mind the terrorists or the atrocities along the way; the question is, do you really want to let Iran to effectively expand until it borders Syria? 'Cause that's what our occupation is preventing.]

"The whole thing was doomed from the start." I disagree, Jack. Getting rid of Saddam and his henchmen was the right thing to do.

It's the follow-through that's been a disaster. The inability to understand the reality of Iraq has been the source of our failure and frustration. Iraq as a country is a fiction, imposed on the tribes by the Western Europeans following World War I. Our forces don't speak the language, let along understand the culture.

The recent success in Anbar is a result of deciding to follow the lead of the Sunnis in that part of the country.

We talk about the need to disarm the Shia militias, rather than figuring out a way to let the militias provide for their own security, the way they have for centuries. The militias should be our friends.

Until we figure out a way to partition the country along sectarian lines, as Joe Biden, alone among the Democratic contenders has long proposed, our efforts to impose democracy on a country of people who don't want to live together, are doomed to failure.

"Getting rid of Saddam and his henchmen was the right thing to do."

Then surely you agree that putting him into power and propping him up throughout the eighties while he was gassing the Kurds was the wrong thing to do?

Do we stay or do we go. How about we split the difference. Why not extract on city by city basis?? Slowly, but surely. Insert Iraqis in place of US troops, not on a huge scale, but region by region.
Start with the multiple tour soldiers. This is not a win/lose situation. Certainly there are enough well trained natives to replace one battalion? We would still maintain a major presence if help is needed when we ease the Iraqi army in place of our troops. If you want to think in black and white terms, this is a win/win.

Sam: Not to split hairs, but the gassing of the Kurds occurred in 1998, not the eighties. If you want to argue that we should have tried to take out Saddam after the Gulf War in 1991, I would agree.

It was 1988, Bill.

Bill, Saddam's major alleged gas attack on the Kurds took place in 1988, when Ronald Reagan was president. (I say "alleged," because there is apparently controversy about it. ).

But regardless of who was responsible, the date was 1988, not 1998. See the Wikipedia entry:

"The Halabja poison gas attack occurred in the period 15 March–19 March 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War when chemical weapons were used by the Iraqi government forces and a number of civilians in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja (population 80,000)."

The Dems are still, by far, the lesser of two evils. What's new? Oh, well, they inherited a clusterf**k war from Republican hands, and even if you believe we need to get out now, you have to know it's not as easy as waiving a magic wand.

But I agree, I'm tired of cutting them some slack....

"If you want to argue that we should have tried to take out Saddam after the Gulf War in 1991, I would agree."

I want to argue that we should not have financed him throughout the Iran-Iraq war.

So, is it our duty to remove every despot from power all over the globe? Or do we pick and choose the ones that sit on significant natural resources at our pleasing?

Bill Holmer said: "The recent success in Anbar is a result of deciding to follow the lead of the Sunnis in that part of the country."

Oh my god. Anbar has become Republican's favorite thing to point to regarding the surge. Except that it was doing OK well before the surge. We armed them against a Shia threat, not Al Qaeda, as the Sunni population is viewing this as the last months of American occupation. It's an argument against our occupation if anything...

Charlie: Thanks for the research on the dates. I stand corrected.

Originally, I was a skeptic about the reasons for going to war in Iraq. Then I visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C. and realized what can happen when good people refuse to act in the face of ruthless sub-humans like Saddam.

Of course TKrueg is right that we can't go after every despot everywhere. But that's not an argument to refuse to depose any despot anywhere.

We need to join with the rest of humanity in deposing brutal/evil dictators and stop being lone rangers. That means acting as a world body through the UN. Give it teeth and support it. When the consensus is to continue weapons inspections before deposing Saddam, listen next time instead of pre-empting the message. Peace Out - Tonto

When it comes to Iraq, in Geico speak: Pull Out (bad) Ease Out (good). Now there's a nuance for the chimp to chew on.

How do you know "We have already lost"?

I read the paper.

Getting rid of Saddam and his henchmen was the right thing to do.

No it wasn't. Many more people have suffered and died in the war than would have suffered and died if Saddam were still there. And the bloodshed has just begun.

Like Cheney said in '94, if you got rid of Saddam, the question is what would replace him. There has never been a responsible answer to that. It was highly irresponsible to make this mess without a realistic assessment of what would happen. And what will most definitely happen the day the American occupation ends.

Or will it never end? With Brian Baird, Mr. Big Shot on-the-scenes inspector, in charge, it will never end.

Baird did not say "win". He said "they sure don't want to see us lose". Big difference.

Really? I guess it depends on what your definition of "is" is. Did we not lose in Vietnam? Nothing better than that will come of this for America -- probably a lot worse.

None of the apologists of death here addresses the point: There will never, ever be a stable central government in what we now call Iraq, other than a dictatorship. Is any sane person suggesting otherwise? If that's what we are fighting for, we will not just not win... we will lose.

Or maybe it's not about that. Maybe it's about the oil. Come on all you hawks, let's hear it: Oh, no! It's all about freedom.

In a pig's eye it is.

I'm still a cut-and-runner, for this reason: Shia, Sunni, and Kurd will begin a horrific bloodbath about ten minutes after we leave. This will be true whether we do it in ten years or the day after tomorrow. Our troops will not solve this problem, because it's too deep-seated and we're seen as invaders rather than liberators. So postponing the slaughter that will happen there isn't worth even one more American life.

However, paradoxically, I admire Baird for his stand, even though I disagree with him. It's nice to somebody in either party who doesn't simply go lock-step. I like guys who think on their own rather than have their party think for them. Believe it or not, this won't be that big a black mark for me when I decide whether to vote for Baird or not in another 14 months (since I will have moved to his district by then). Sure, I'd give another Democrat a hard look...but more competition and more discussion is always a good thing anyway.

Until we figure out a way to partition the country along sectarian lines, as Joe Biden, alone among the Democratic contenders has long proposed...

What if they don't want to partition the country along sectarian llines? Did 650,000 people die and make Joe Biden president of Iraq or something?

And haven't we been through this whole thing before?

I think there will be a staggering loss of human life out of all proportion to the stakes involved and I see no guarantee that once we go through that kind of a murderous and destructive kind of military effort that the situation out there will be any better. In fact, I think it will be a lot worse.

-- George McGovern, March 1965

--Getting rid of Saddam and his henchmen was the right thing to do.

No it wasn't. Many more people have suffered and died in the war than would have suffered and died if Saddam were still there. And the bloodshed has just begun.

The measure isn't how many people died or got hurt. The measure is the stated reason for the war: in the aftermath of 9/11 we do not wait to get hit, we preempt threats before they hit us. Saddam looked like he was building nukes. That was unacceptable.

Turned out there were no Iraqi nukes? That was Saddam's fault for acting like he had them. What would have happened if things had gone the other way? He had nukes but we didn't think so? A mushroom cloud over an American city.

I'd rather be wrong the way we were than wrong the other way.

Really? I guess it depends on what your definition of "is" is. Did we not lose in Vietnam?

No. We did not lose in Vietnam. We gave up. A big difference. The Democrat congress cut off support to S. Viet Nam. If we had not done that, the S. Vietnamese would've survived.

We abandoned our allies, which was a national disgrace. That abandonment discredited the Democrats on national security for a generation. It amazes me that the Democrats are currently looking to repeat that particular history.

Yeah, let's continue this worthless occupation forever. Well worth it.

Getting the heck out of the hellhole we created called Vietnam was the smartest thing the United States has done in my lifetime.

Getting the heck out of the hellhole we created called Vietnam was the smartest thing the United States has done in my lifetime.

We abandoned support for our S. Vietnamese allies after we got out. That was an unconscionable and dishonorable act of disloyalty.

The war didn't have to be lost. Liberals decided to lose it.

Yeah, Nixon was really on a roll there. Victory was just around the corner. If it weren't for those darn libruhls.

"[...] we do not wait to get hit, we preempt threats before they hit us."

It's an attractive policy in the short term, which rests on two assumptions.

1: That we're strong enough to both pre-empt all threats we perceive, while simultaneously keeping anyone and everyone from pre-empting any threat they might perceive from us; and
2: That we always will be.

Assumption number one is dodgy; we can feasibly defeat anyone, but we cannot feasibly defeat everyone.

Assumption number two is flat-out false. History strongly argues that someday our "empire" will fall. (And the size of our debt argues that the fall is not so long in coming.) When that time comes, if we've spent many a year beating up on all comers, do you think our empire will senesce gracefully like Britain's? Or less gracefully, like the Soviets'?

Jack. No, we did not lose Vietnam in a military sense. We had Vietnam won twice, militarily,. and that was in the face of Johnson-McNamara putting so many restrrictions on our military that it was a wonder that it was able to do what it did. But, each time the military had it won, the U.S. politicians retreated and gave the Viet Cong time to regroup. Finally Congress declared defeat and pulled out. It was painful to watch/live through then. It was painful to see what happened to the U.S and to the Democrats, who got the blame, afterward. The same folks who engineered the Vietnam defeat are in charge of Congress today. That is not good for the U.S, our allies or for our collective safety. Besides, this Islamist war is completely different. Different cast of characters. Different motivations. In Vietnam there was no danger to the U.S home land or to the West in general - the best Kennedy and Johnson could come up with for why we should fight was the "domino theory". Here there is a direct threat to both the U.S and the West. To put the same ending on this one is to invite huge danger.

"Here there is a direct threat to both the U.S and the West."

You realize that what you're smoking is illegal, don't you?

To the extent that there even is a "direct threat", it is small and has very little to do with Iraq.


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Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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