Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A False Dichotomy

As one would expect, there's been considerable debate about what the Democrats' priorities should be after taking over Congress on Thursday. Should they try to work on providing health care for the poor, close the Medicare Donut Hole, investigate the decision to go to war in Iraq, or investigate the misuse of intelligence and surveillance resources of this country? To which, I say, "Yes. All of that." Why be limited? No matter what they pass, Bush will probably veto it anyway.

One debate that strikes me as pointless is, if I can frame it correctly, whether we should impeach President Bush for his numerous violations of the Constitution and federal law, or should we try to get out of Iraq? (also, here, and here). To my way of thinking, this is the biggest false dichotomy since the last time I was on a airline flight that offered a choice of entrees. There is no choice. To get out of Iraq, we're going to have to impeach the President.

Here's why. George W. Bush has made it abundantly clear that he's not going to change course in Iraq. The Baker Commission (PDF), a bipartisan commission given the task of finding a workable strategy for the U.S. in Iraq, recommended a tepid version of what is the only obvious plan left - get out of there as soon as we can with a minimum of casualties on both sides. This is, as the commisions's report pointed out, the only viable option left. Our presence in the country isn't making anything better, except perhaps the marksmanship of the various militias, resistance groups, and thugs who take shots at our soldiers whenever they can. The hanging of Saddam should have demonstrated that the last thing the leaders of Iraq, and by "leaders" I mean the people who have any real ability to affect the political course of the country, are clearly not interested in creating a viable and inclusive society. The most dignified person in the process was Saddam, a ruthless mass murderering hypocrite.

Yet, President Bush has ignored even this timid plan, and instead asked the Pentagon to tell him what he wanted to hear. They obliged, with a three option menu they entitled "Go Big, Go Long, or Go Home", meaning either escalate by 100,000 or more troops, or stay for a long time at somewhat escalated troop levels in order to train Iraqi police and military forces, or leave as soon as possible. Yesterday the BBC learned that Bush was choosing "Go Kinda Big". He will send as many as 20,000 more troops to Iraq. From Tuesday's Countdown with Keith Olbermann comes this report:

But from our impeccable reporter at the Pentagon, Jim Miklaszewski, tonight comes confirmation of something called “surge and accelerate” — as many as 20,000 additional troops — for “political purposes".

Countdown with Keith Olbermann - Jan. 2, 2007

According to the BBC report, they will not be sent for the purpose of training the Iraqis to fight their own insurgency, which is the only reason the Baker Commission thought further deployment was justified, and also the reason the Pentagon justified that force increase. In other words, Bush has ignored the advice of both a bipartisan commission set up to explore the options in Iraq, and his own generals. He has instead ordered a pointless increase in the size of a force that can accomplish nothing more without more training of Iraqis. This plan is so untethered from reality that it's hard to imagine that college-educated people could have come up with it.

Refusing to fund Iraq will do no good. Bush has already demonstrated that he won't be pushed around by laws. He's broken several of them. He's also not felt constrained by the limitations of budget, having freely moved funds around to use for things like secret surveillance programs and secret prisons. He's done signing statements that have gutted several laws sent to him.To quote an American Bar Association Report on signing statements:

The report found that President Bush’s signing statements are “ritualistic, mechanical and generally carry no citation of authority or detailed explanation.” Even when “[a] frustrated Congress finally enacted a law requiring the Attorney General to submit to Congress a report of any instance in which that official or any officer of the Department of Justice established or pursued a policy of refraining from enforcing any provision of any federal statute, … this too was subjected to a ritual signing statement insisting on the President’s authority to withhold information whenever he deemed it necessary.”

ABA Report On Signing Statements - June 6, 2006

Why would this man be stopped by a little piece of paper proferred to him by another group of surrender monkeys?

Here's what will have to happen if we want to see our servicemen out of Iraq before 2009:

1. A joint resolution or law must be passed by Congress that requires the President to submit a realistic plan within a month to withdraw from Iraq within a year. The plan must have milestones along the way that Bush must meet.

2. If Bush refuses to submit a plan, or does not meet the milestones, he must be impeached and removed from office.

That's it. There can be no give, no wish to "spare the American people the trauma" of an impeachment or a change of President. If Congress isn't willing to do this, then they might as well just shut up about trying to get the troops home. It's not going to happen. Keith Olbermann defined the choice in his special comment on Countdown on Tuesday (video here):

And to the Democrats now yoked to the helm of this sinking ship, you proceed at your own peril, as well.

President Bush may not be very good at reality, but he and Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rove are still gifted at letting American troops be killed, and then turning their deaths to their own political advantage.

The equation is simple. This country does not want more troops in Iraq. It wants fewer.

Go and make it happen, or go and look for other work.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann - Jan. 2, 2007


There are probably some policy areas where compromise and bipartisanship will work between the 110th Congress and President Bush. Iraq isn't one of those areas. If the Democrats want to get the troops home the choice is simple: Go big or go home.

UPDATE: Here's a quote from President Bush's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

In the days ahead, I will be addressing our nation about a new strategy to help the Iraqi people gain control of the security situation and hasten the day when the Iraqi government gains full control over its affairs. Ultimately, Iraqis must resolve the most pressing issues facing them. We can't do it for them.

But we can help Iraq defeat the extremists inside and outside of Iraq--and we can help provide the necessary breathing space for this young government to meet its responsibilities. If democracy fails and the extremists prevail in Iraq, America's enemies will be stronger, more lethal, and emboldened by our defeat. Leaders in both parties understand the stakes in this struggle. We now have the opportunity to build a bipartisan consensus to fight and win the war.

Sound like reality's intruded on his thinking yet?

UPDATE 2: Changed "binding resolution" to "joint resolution", which is more specific and probably more accurate, given the circumstances.

3 comments:

op99 said...

There is no choice. To get out of Iraq, we're going to have to impeach the President.

No kidding. Bush has never once wavered from the proposition that this occupation will still be underway at the end of his presidency. And why would he, when the architects of the debacle, the Project for a New American Century, clearly say that their goal is to get a military footprint in the region? The goal was always an indefinite occupation, not a military victory.

Cujo359 said...

op99 writes:The goal was always an indefinite occupation, not a military victory.

I think the goal, at least at one time, was to establish permanent bases in the region, and Iraq was a good choice (so the thinking went). They may be settling for an indefinite occupation, but I don't think they'll even achieve that. Sooner or later, we're going to leave. "Later" is probably after January, 2009. The only choice I see is on what terms, and even that choice is very limited.

Provident 360 said...

Revelation 13:5 - Are we in this 42 month period?