Proliferation Press

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Archive for the ‘John McCain’ Category

Blog-on-Blog: Response to the Reliant on Bush’s Troop “Surge”

Posted by K.E. White on January 13, 2007

The Reliant offers a good take on Bush’s plan to deploy more troops in Iraq.

Below are comments from K.E. White, who using the (unfair) advantage of endless comments to respond to the post. They also appear directly on the site.

“As Charles Krauthammer puts it…”

Charles Krauthammer? Okay, okay I might be a bit biased: but Krauthammer as a rational authority on this? He’s the extreme of the extreme, though he has been the most consistent (or irrational depending on your point of view) of the neo-cons.

This article of mine is a bit slanted
, but it does paint the problems of using this guy as a lone support.

“As for the increase in troops – the primary focus of Bush’s address – that recommendation may be a valuable one, but one can’t help but feel that the ideal moment for it has already passed. The increase, indeed, seems like a belated action…”

I completely agree, the “ideal moment” has passed. But I think its valuable to point out why: the American public has flipped flopped on its opinion of the war. Whereas earlier and throughout the 2004 election is supported remaining in Iraq and ignored troublesome signs there, it has now become extremely embittered: with 40% of voters strongly against the venture, an amount that upticks to 60-70% when relaxed to disagree.

“Thus far, policymakers on both sides of the aisle have supported the effort to keep force levels as low as possible in Iraq – which, thus far, has proved counterproductive in the bloody and complex milieu of Iraqi insurgency and counterinsurgency.”

When you evoke “policymakers on both sides” I become a bit suspicious. Weren’t these policy makers simply following the cue of President Bush? John McCain has consistently supported more troops, but was Congress really going to tell the President the proper level of troops, or pull for an increase? Doubtful: that is without the recent foreign policy maelstrom–increasing sectarian violence in Iraq brining about a highly critical Iraq Study Group Report and a sweeping ’06 election cycle.

When it came to troop levels it was Bush’s call: until the ’06 elections there was not the public pull for Congress to weigh in, as it now is (yes, albeit too late for rational policy making, a common weakness of Congressional warpowers).

But I would lay blame squarely on Bush, not “policymakers on both sides of the aisle.”

But if you are endorsing smarter and more active Congressional oversight (lacks for decades), we find ourselves in total agreement.

“If these additional troops are deployed – in the right places, for the right reasons, and with the right attention to reconciliation efforts within Iraq – there is reason to hope that they will prove a key part of securing democracy for the Iraqi people.”

Perhaps, perhaps not. General Petraeus (have you or could you do a bio on this guy?), from all reports, seems to be the right guy for the job. But does he have the proper tools? What I find interesting is that Bush did not take Frederick Kagan’s advice on troops numbers–same or virtually same brigade number, but far less troops.

Bush should have done this earlier: having lost public support, even if this policy is effective it will not survive any short term difficulties.

But on the main point, we both seem to share the same sentiment: solidifying the Iraqi government would be better than all-out civil war (or, depending on your point of view, terrorist feed sectarian violence) in Iraq.

I hope for success, but have little faith in the strategic judgement of this administration.

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Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Diplomacy, Iran, Iraq, Iraq Study Group, John McCain, Reliant, Syria, Terrorism, Wartime Powers, WMD | 4 Comments »

Blog-on-Blog: Dickerson’s Misread on McCain and the Troop Surge

Posted by K.E. White on January 8, 2007

John DickersonI saw John Dickerson—okay, okay I heard him from the back rows—at the AEI meeting where Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and John Lieberman (I-CT) endorsed Frederick W. Kagan’s plan for a troop surge of 30-40,000 troops.

After the event, I posted my piece on the event at Campus Progress, meandering afterwards to read Dickerson’s take at Slate.

Anyone can read Dickerson’s article, but they might not know where he got it from.

  • He makes no mention of the particular troop surge plan McCain endorsed at AEIInstead he quotes for the event without any sort of reference.

Instead Dickerson writes, without any reference:John McCain

“He told the audience that everyone in America should read Fiasco, the book that details those many failures. Pointing out that the job was botched is both an act of truth-telling and an act of political defense. If the surge doesn’t work, he will be able to say the Iraq war has been so mismanaged that it was too far gone for the McCain-backed last-ditch attempt.”

What audience? The only McCain talks Dickerson alludes to are:

“Recently he has advocated for a surge in private conversations with the president and at greater length with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who is heading up the administration’s policy review.”

  • Dickerson neglects the likely difference between “the McCain-backed last-ditch attempt” and the likely Bush proposal.

Kagan’s plan calls for 30-40,000 troops. Most sources peg Bush’s surge to be 10-20,000.

In other words, half that being advocated by McCain and Lieberman.

And he forgets to include these words of McCain: “The troops surge should be significant and sustained, if not don’t do it.”

  • Dickerson misses what will be the McCain Iraq Strategy

Obviously McCain is giving himself wiggle room, but of a different sort: He will not just say Bush messed up, but that he picked the wrong strategy.

And this strategy–“the right plan wasn’t adopted”–might be just the ticket to beating an anti-war or war-waffling Democrat in 2008.

I enjoyed the talk, and a fair amount of Dickerson’s article. But perhaps Slate should be on the look-out for another contributor…how does Adjunct Second-Look Contributor sound?

I won’t hold my breath for their call.

Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Diplomacy, Iraq, John McCain, Think Tank | Leave a Comment »