Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Day In Folly, So Far ...

So much folly, so little time. I'll just let others make the point this morning.

John Derbyshire at the NRO makes the case that Bush's latest policy statements on Iraq make no sense given his already stated goals and reality. Josh Marshall at TPM and Andrew Sullivan make some supplemental points, as well.

Speaking of Iraq, Taylor Marsh tells us again that Iran is in Bush's crosshairs, as well as filling us in on other bad news from that part of the world. One of the reasons she thinks that, I guess, is that we've apparently raided an Iranian consulate in northern Iraq. I'm not betting against her on this one.

It looks like the next generation of nuclear storage containers might not be as safe as we were led to believe by all those folks who told us how stupid we were to have concerns about nuclear power. I always thought designing containment systems that would last for half a million years might be a bit of a challenge, but what do I know? Slashdot joins in with the usual mix of blather and wisdom.

You can help push back against the tide a little this morning. Go sign Senator Harry Reid's petition against escalation in Iraq. Here's my comment from that form:

All we've done in Iraq in the last three years is make things worse. The militias and insurgents are better armed thanks to the weapons and training we've inadvertently given them by trying to build up the armed forces. Our troops have been rotated in and out of there several times, and the VA system is overwhelmed with the wounded. What's worse, we're losing the real war on terrorism in Afghanistan and we can't commit the resources because they're tied down in Iraq.

If you have thoughts on Iraq, please share them there, and feel free to do it here as well. Many of us have friends or relatives who are over there, and we need to make our President aware of the cost of what he's doing.

UPDATE: If you're looking for some inoculation against folly, Firedoglake is offering some from the worlds of carpentry and the law. Peterr explains that "measure twice, cut once" is something every President should know, and looseheadprop explains that to succeed, you should begin with the end in mind. I've repeated these aphorisms more than a couple times in my profession, and they're good advice for foreign policy or just about anything.

Looseheadprop is conducting a clinic in being a trial lawyer for non-lawyers in preparation for the upcoming Scooter Libby trial. Here's the first lesson, which deals with how to select a jury.

UPDATE 2: Yet more depressing news: The House passed a bill supporting stem cell research, but at a less than veto proof majority of 253-174. The AP gives us the bad news. Thanks to commenters at FDL for pointing this one out.

UPDATE 3: The last word on President Bush's speech last night goes to Juan Coles, who , as usual, sums it up pretty well:

The answer to "al-Qaeda's" occupation of neighborhoods in Baghdad and the cities of al-Anbar is then, Bush says, to send in more US troops to "clear and hold" these neighborhoods.

But is that really the big problem in Iraq? Bush is thinking in terms of a conventional war, where armies fight to hold territory. But if a nimble guerrilla group can come out at night and set off a bomb at the base of a large tenement building in a Shiite neighborhood, they can keep the sectarian civil war going. They work by provoking reprisals. They like to hold territory if they can. But as we saw with Fallujah and Tal Afar, if they cannot they just scatter and blow things up elsewhere.

And the main problem is not "al-Qaeda," which is small and probably not that important, and anyway is not really Bin Laden's al-Qaeda. They are just Salafi jihadis who appropriated the name. When their leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed, it didn't cause the insurgency to miss a beat. Conclusion: "al-Qaeda" is not central to the struggle. Izzat Ibrahim Duri and the Baath Party are probably the center of gravity of the resistance.

Bush Sends GIs to his Private Fantasyland

Of course, there was ample evidence for all this already, and if Bush was inclined to see the reality, he would know this already. Sadly, this has become another Vietnam in at least one significant sense - our leaders have absolutely no interest in what's really going on, and instead are focusing on what "history" will think of them. I think it's pretty clear that history isn't going to be too kind to George W. Bush already. At this point, he ought to think about just how unkind it's going to be and at least do what he can to clean up his own mess.

Yep, why knock yourself out trying to explain the folly when there are so many who are so good at it? Delegate responsibiity, that's what I say.

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