Kevin Drum; Not Getting It On Iraq

You know, I used to respect Kevin Drum a lot. His blog, Political Animal, was the first political blog I had ever come across and to be honest, was probably a big reason why I started blogging myself. I don’t read him quite as much as I used to but I still pop in once in a while. Or at least I used to, I’m seriously thinking about making that past tense, ever since I read this drivel.

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. What is wrong with you??? Just because the Iraqi Police are essentially a failure, corrupt, and contributors to sectarian violence, doesnt’ mean you have to get all down about it. Man, you defeat-o-crats, I swear! You listen to guys like Kevin Drum and you begin to get the impression that this whole Iraq thing is this really complicated conflict that requires careful thought and planning. It’s not!

But to read Kevin, he complains about the Iraq police force not meeting his standards (what? Like we don’t have corruption in our own police force? Look at Larry Craig, you can’t tell me the arresting officer wasn’t a crooked cop looking to make political hay there… sheesh), but then when you offer up a perfectly sane solution like, say, I don’t know, disband them, he complains about that too:

Scrap the Iraqi police force? Start over from scratch? Is this a joke? Even if we could do it, it means (a) putting 26,000 armed and pissed off Iraqis back on the street, (b) running the country without a police force until a new one is recruited and trained, and (c) spending two or three years building a replacement.

What do you want Kevin? Blood? We did the same thing with the Iraqi Army and I don’t see any problems that came off with that! Yeah, so now who’s all smart, smart guy? The disbanding of the Iraqi Army was a smashing success, and it’ll work just the same here too.

But that’s Kevin Drum, ladies and gentlemen, a complete and total defeat-o-crat who hates America, and wants us to fail. He can’t just get in on the winning team. He should know by now all he has to do is root for us and it’ll happen eventually, but no. He hates America.

oh, almost forgot.

(/sarcasm)

Others discussing this story: The Newshoggers, Crooks and Liars, The Moderate Voice, Washington Post, DownWithTyranny!, Los Angeles Times, INTEL DUMP, PoliBlog (TM) and Obsidian Wings

9 Responses to “Kevin Drum; Not Getting It On Iraq”

  1. Macswain says:

    You got me. At first I was thinking I was going to have to get into a flame war with Kyle. It took me until I was about halfway through the post to realize I was being Onion’d.

  2. xranger says:

    A right-wing writer I have respected for many years, Peggy Noonan, wrote a column today that sums up (far better than I could) my feelings about the iraq debate at this time. I blog on the left-of-center blogs mainly to see opposing views – if I blogged on right wing blogs, it gets boring agreeing to everything said. Besides, some of those guys are nutso.

    Anyway, I have attempted to chide you into shelving everything about Iraq up to this point and offering constructive thought- what do you feel would happen if we pulled out right now. Nobody ever answers that question. Sarcastic entries like the one above merely sends you deeper into the politcal morass without engaging in serious thought as to this query.

    From Peggy:

    “What is needed is simple maturity, a vow to look to–to care about–America’s interests in the long term, a commitment to look at the facts as they are and try to come to conclusions. This may require in some cases a certain throwing off of preconceptions, previous statements and former stands. It would certainly require the mature ability to come to agreement with those you otherwise hate, and the guts to summon the help of, and admit you need the help of, the other side.”

    She is speaking to both sides here: the war supporters and far-left stinkbomb-throwers, both of whom have got to get off of their individual high horses and enter the fray in a rational manner, with one theme: what is best for America, the world and the future of the middle east.

    Normally I ignore these inane postings of yours regarding Iraq, and I have exhorted you into stop being so damn lazy and offer something of substance. To no avail.

    here’s the link:

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110010540

  3. Okay, I’m going to take umbrage at the lazy claim. Call me biased, call me one sided, closed minded, whatever and what have you, but the lazy bit kinda bristles me. I’m up usually at about 6 am reading up on this stuff, and I take few breaks through the day until I finally drag my ass to bed at about midnight, so I would at least like a little credit for not being lazy. I may not have my A game on at all times, but you could pretty much bet on the fact that if I’m awake, I’m probably working on this stuff.

    Further, I would agree with Peggy Noonan’s claim, and in fact, buried somewhere in our archives I actually have a post up that shows respect for her in a past column she put up at the WSJ Opinion Journal. She is dead right, but I think you’ll find that what is a large portion of my argument is that the ideals that she expresses at this point are impossible to reach at this point because of the simple divorcing of reality from those who actually are in a position to do anything about it.

    I’ll explain what I’m talking about. yesterday, i posted about how the Pentagon, as a single unit, will not provide counsel on what to do in Iraq, particularly about how to proceed with the “surge”. Instead it will take a cast of top advisors and they will each make their own presentation.

    What is significant is that this is essentially a waste of time. We know the outcome here, just like we know the outcome of what will happen when the Patreaus report is delivered, and so on and so forth.

    And so all that is left to do is criticize. How can we even begin to, as Noonan says, work together when the same people who are calling the shots are not leveling with the American people, but instead releasing unsourced and mischaracterizing progress reports, running a political campaign not for a candidate but for a war, distributing OPPO rap sheets on anti-war legislators, playing up military progress when political progress is what is needed, etc. etc. etc.?

    That’s the point. We want the bad shit in Iraq to be taken into consideration because nothing good will ever happen if it is continuously ignored for the sake of PR. I wrote that in a post not too long ago, a week or so maybe. I simply said I bet Bush would have a lot more success if he just came out, and laid it all out on the line, the bad and the good, but he not once ever does this, just like with his speech on the anniversary of Katrina, it’s always about the story he wants to tell and not the story in its entirety.

    I mean, I know you are feeling fatique from the war, particularly when I think that you have family over there (which is one of the reasons I’m trying to get in touch with you through email). You’ve said before that you don’t like the Iraq war, and you would like to see it ended.

    And slowly, we are both converging, I think on opinion there. You still want the surge to have some time. Me, I don’t not necessarily, not when I don’t think it’s actually working as well as the administration claims it is.

    This is not to say that I think we need a total and complete pullout a la Richardson and Kucinich. In fact, one of my goals this weekend in between trying to spend some much needed time with my family, is to review a 30 page redeployment plan a friend of mine sent to me. The goal of that is not necessarily to engage in a full on pull out, but instead, as the name would suggest, redeploy to extract us from the proximity we currently are in, but at the same time to put us near Iraq and, as I understand it from the skimming I’ve done thus far, at a ready status if our reentry into Iraq is necessary.

    And, I’ve said this a few times, but I want to reiterate it right here. What really bothers me about our continued presence is the concept of stasis right now. What I believe is that the sectarian conflicts in Iraq are too many, too intense, and too complex to be solved right now by even political means. I honestly think they really need to fight it out a little. No one wants to here this, and maybe other liberals don’t want to admit it, but I think what Iraq needs right about now is to have its little civil war.

    Whatever the case, for Iraq to be “resolved” there has to be an agreement between the many different factions within the nation, that allows them to coexist without some form of external pressure that is constantly applied. Saddam used to be that pressure, now it’s us.

    As long as we are there, as long as the government is largely seen as a construct of our participation, and as long as the violence is largely held in check by our presence, the Iraqis will not make much progress militarily nor politically.

    Put as simply as I can, there is a conflict, and we are essentially acting as a hold on that conflict. We do mitigate damage, true, but we also mitigate progress at the same time. This needs to come to an end.

    Personally, I think there are only two ways to do this. One is that you flood the country with boots and air support, and you shut the country down, completely. You declare martial law, and you enforce it. You then slowly bring the nation back up. You reestablish the infrastructure first. Then you work on the economy and the government.

    You focus on local government first where people are more likely to feel engaged by local politics. Get communities together and sit down with them and say, okay, how are we going to get our little town to work properly and together?

    When you get local governments set up, without US involvement beyond perhaps the role of moderator, then you bring those community governments together in larger and larger blocs until you are able to hoist a National government.

    That is one way. The other way is to simply redeploy our troops to the sidelines. Back off and let the Iraqis figure this shit out on their own because, you know what? In the end, long after we’re gone, their the ones that are going to have to live with what they got.

    This will be bloody, lots of people will die, civillians will die. But I don’t think you can outsource civil wars, which is essentially what i see going on here. We have to let them fight their civil war. But we stay close because we do have the ability to prevent things from getting out of hand.

    Our responsibility then becomes to prevent Iraq from becoming another Darfur. But then, that’s it. Someone gets out of hand, we go in there, rough them up until they stop, walk out, and let them go back at it.

    We also stay redeployed to prevent other neighboring nations from getting invested in the civil war as well. Iran not long ago said it’s ready to step in and fill the power vaccuum in the country, other nations in the reason are probably thinking similar things. If I don’t think the civil war should be outsourced to us, I maintain that it shouldn’t be outsourced to them either.

    And that’s it, but I’m not a policy wonk either.

    I think if they are allowed to engage in the conflict completely, then yes it will be worse for a while, but then I think it’ll get better. While the Civil War we had in this country has left slow fading scars among our people, we have eventually drawn ourselves together as a great family, albeit one with some terrible scuffles.

    Anyway, I have to do some work at my job for a little bit so i can free myself up to write some more lazy posts.

  4. xranger says:

    Well, now we’re getting somewhere. This is the best post you had in weeks. True dialogue.

    And, you made the most salient point: we’re converging on the same ideas. The surge took all of the available troops we have left, put them on 15 month deployments (!) and put into effect the Petraeus program. From what I see, it is a resounding success on most fronts.

    Now, the war is morphing, for the first time, into the much-heralded civil war. I mean, we now see even Shiite-on-Shiite fighting. Incredible. Fortunately, they are fighting amongst themselves more than the US troops.

    If the US is forced, by Congress, a new president, or both, to pull out while Iraq is still in chaos, possibly the next step is to set up a NATO security force around the oil fields and the Iran border. At the same time, let the Iraqi civil war play itself out. Callus? You bet. But we’re running out of options and patience.

    Because, at this point, the most distressing feature of a full US pullout is Iranians poring over the border. The Europeans can no longer keep their head in the sand (France and Germany are already emerging to support the US) and let the balance of oil power in the Middle East be controlled by the crazed Iranian government.

    Good to see you’re emerging out of your lazy funk. 🙂

    BTW, I e-mailed you again today. Don’t know why its not working.

  5. I’ll check my email when I get home. At this point though, I’m afraid that hype might be getting ready to overtake reality here.

    As for my laziness, well, when I’m under my normal schedule with the normal day to day stuff, I’m pretty productive, and I can usually spend most of the day working on this stuff, but when my schedule goes out of whack, I go from 100 to 0 in no time at all, which is what happened this last month. We had family staying with us for the entire month and then I had a pretty severe work schedule change as well, so there you go.

    Anyway, it’s pretty clear that the history of our involvement with Iraq will never mesh, and that’s fine because it also looks like we are starting to agree with where we stand right now and how to move forward.

    I’m going to disagree with you on one thing though and that’s the oil protection. This sucks shit, I fully understand it, and it’s a huge risk, but I think we need to take it. It is my belief that one of the most severe errors we have made in the past is that following the immediate invasion, we failed to secure most the other ministries, ammo dumps, and even the basic rule of law. Yet we provided military protection for oil fields and the oil ministry.

    Now, I had a friend explain to me the global significance of oil, a significance that extends beyond our own economic interests, so when I’m disagreeing with you here, make no mistake, I understand that there is a strategic importance in protecting the oil. However, I also feel that it comes with a great cost to our credibility.

    When we protected Iraq’s oil, and little else, the message that Iraqi’s got was simply that we care mostly about the oil, whether it’s true or not. I think we continue to mobilize towards their oil deposits at our own peril. Keep in mind that I think that the ideal posture for us to have is one of an impartial actor; our only bias being one of peace and stability and nothing else.

    In this way, when we do act, Iraqi’s can begin to come to the consensus that it is for their best interest and not their own. Remember, a lot of these societies were tribal in nature, not just in Iraq, but throughout the middle east, and one of the grievances that terrorist networks seek to rectify through their violence is the domination over these people by powerful ruling families and classes who are able to gain credibility throughout the world, particularly the US through their control of the highly sought after oil.

    I was in a conference call with a very nice lady who had written a book on this topic (one I intend to get a copy of and read some day), and while I didn’t necessarily agree with her on everything, I did see merit in at least one point of her argument, “we need to be hands off when it comes to Iraqi oil.”

    By not showing our hand to be mostly all about getting at their oil reserves, then we send a powerful message to the Iraqi’s that we’re there for them, and not their oil.

    But yes, we can focus on securing their borders, and by proxy, if we do that job properly, we will essentially be protecting the oil as well. We just can’t be too obvious about it, you know what I mean?

  6. matttbastard says:

    A right-wing writer I have respected for many years, Peggy Noonan…

    Colour me ‘immature’ and ‘lazy’, but I stopped reading at that point.

    Is xranger more meta-spoofage on your part, Kyle? Srsly – citing a finger-wagging Peggy fucking Noonan lecture on bipartisan ‘maturity’? What’s next – ‘even the liberal David Brooks…’?

    Although perhaps she’s on to something. Maybe the dolphins can help unite Defeat-o-crats and the No-End-But-Victory folks in attempting to find a viable (non) solution to the GOP’s political crisis the morass in the Gulf. Let’s give it another F.U. For now, less vitriol, more tea and crumpets (or bread and circuses – your choice).

  7. matttbastard says:

    (Hmm, I’ll remember for next time that blockquote tags don’t work here. Also, if the title of this post were written in, say, December 2002, it wouldn’t be a spoof. Much like a number of sensible (as opposed to Serious™) centrists at the time, including Big Media Matt and JMM, Drum waffled on Iraq until pretty much the last minute.

  8. arty kraft says:

    Your observation about Drum is more true with each and every post of his. First, he claims to be a liberal yet backs Hillary. Sorry, logically speaking it’s a bivalent choice; you can’t have both simultaneously, at least not according to the laws of physics.

    What’s fascinating about the plethora of “experts” on Iraq – stay, don’t stay, keep bases, leave everything behind – is that there’s no empirical framework to judge the situation by and be certain of a strategy. Is the civil war going to be worse because we leave? Who really knows? What if Iraq – a (hypothetical) powerhouse in 1862 – stepped into our Civil War. Would that have shortened it or lenghtened it?

    Do occupiers diffuse tensions and violence or inspire it? This is, at best, guesswork. One thing’s clear, however, a liberal, i.e., an individual with humanist ideals, wouldn’t have sympathized with the war when it was first being considered as did Kevin Drum. And a true liberal would have more passion about reaching accommodation than Drum has. His reportage on the issue is dry and disinterested, and his perspective is largely shaped by the status quo. If the official version is that the surge is working, Drum’s not going to vigorously disagree. If that’s liberal, then count me out.

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