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December 03, 2006

The John and Joe Show

The Nitpicker picks the right nit:

Here's my question about the McCain plan for more troops in Iraq Lieberman has now endorsed.

What do those troops do?

Think of it this way: A company is losing profit against its competitors. No one can figure out why. If, in a well-run company, some advisor came in and said "Let's hire more people" without explaining exactly where those people would work and what they would do, the advisor would be booted out of the boss's office.

You have to understand how fundamentally unserious these proposals are. The John and Joe Show is beginning to separate itself from the catastrophic failure that is Iraq. But they lack the courage to make the wrenching, heartbreaking decisions involved. So instead, they're suggesting the one strategy absolutely sure to never be implemented. That way, when withdrawal does happen, and the country devolves even further into bloodshed and horror, their elevated moralism will remain unsullied. No one will ask how their way would have been better, but they will constantly remind that their way was never tried. Their war will have been lost, but their political careers will escape unscathed.

December 3, 2006 | Permalink


OT ... congratulations to Ezra's Dad ... (if I am associating the correct Klein here): I noticed in the materials I get every so often as a UCI alumn that he got some sort of nice grant?

Posted by: DAS | Dec 3, 2006 5:34:56 PM

So I admit I haven't done the research either, and am just giving benefit of the doubt (as I am wont to do), but...

Are we sure McCain doesn't have a plan for what he'd do with 50k troops? I'm just so used to the press saying "liberals don't have any IDEAS", when there are plenty of liberal ideas just the pundits don't bother to do any research. I'd be wary of assuming a negative, that McCain doesn't have an idea (for those troops) just because I personally haven't heard it.

Posted by: Tony v | Dec 3, 2006 6:01:52 PM

Rant: The poor horses names 'serious' and 'unserious' have been flogged in political discourse until they are on their back, hooves high, and in rigor.

Of course, McCain and Lieberman think they are serious in any number of ways defined by dictionary.com. Now what they propose may be stupid, or undoable, of just for appearance rather than actual implementation, but surely those phrases or words describe the action(s) of the mighty centrist duo better than serious and unserious, which are on the verge of, or past, being serious or understandable descriptions of their behavior.

Bush will call this bluff, and raise them 10,000 (for some short period of time), and then what result will happen?

All the DC pols and pundits have ruined a perfectly good word, and let's take it away from them - by ridicule if needed. Seriously!

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Dec 3, 2006 6:07:00 PM

It's amazing to see that the press has learned nothing from their dalliance with Bush. When VIPs give silly answers to serious problems, they need to be forced to justify those silly things.

For the love of God, McCain is a serious presidential candidate. And right now he's saying "we will win Iraq if we send troops!" If you're the press, you don't admire that statement for its political cleverness (ooh, he got Lieberman to give him partisan cover! How audacious! And since it'll never happen, he'll be in the catbird seat when Iraq goes belly-up!). Didn't we get into this problem in Iraq because the press admired Bush's political audacity and failed to ask any goddam follow-ups that related to the real-world consequences of his proposals?

Really, this is a man who stands a strong chance of actually being in charge of our army, and yet nobody is asking him where we'd get 50,000 fully-trained troops on this kind of notice, and nobody has asked him the far more obvious question of "what exactly are they gonna do when they get there, and how exactly will that make us win?"

Posted by: theorajones | Dec 3, 2006 6:29:29 PM

Democrats have ideas. Mine is to sprinkle Iraq with pixie dust: cheaper than McCain's proposal and just as effective.

Posted by: BroD | Dec 3, 2006 7:04:42 PM

Didn't we get into this problem in Iraq because the press admired Bush's political audacity and failed to ask any goddam follow-ups that related to the real-world consequences of his proposals?

I don't think so. There was more than plenty in the press for reasonable people to have every necessary cause to oppose the war. The media may not have been as sharp as it should have been, but it was sharp enough to leave no one with an excuse.

I join Tony v in not assuming that McCain and Lieberman have no plans for the troops. There are no doubt useful things more troops could do, but I don't know about the number in question turning the tide. I think the political problems are a more realistic area to increase efforts in. But I really don't know.

Posted by: Sanpete | Dec 4, 2006 12:16:47 AM

It's worse that a senior executive increasing head count without a plan. Far worse. As Pat Lang points out, military units can't be expanded just by adding more soldiers. They need to be trained as units, with each level of command either trained with them (at the lower levels) or reorganized to manage them (at higher levels) and the units incorporated into the overall planning process (at the highest levels). Of course, you can take units that have just spent a year in Iraq and turn them around and send them right back. But we've been doing too much of that already.

To the extent that McCain is actually serious about this, he's either (1) ignorant of military matters or (2) has no respect for a military that is already over-stretched or (3) not actually serious, but is playing this as a political angle.

Posted by: idlemind | Dec 4, 2006 2:28:03 AM

the lack of intelligent, visionary political leadership and drive in both parties is a disgrace.
regarding the democrats... why is a politician as untested and unseasoned as barak obama even being vaguely considered as presidential material?
...i still am wondering how a person of substance and honesty like harold ford has fallen by the wayside,and obama's star is rising.
....there is something else at work that makes things happen beyond the supposed order of things.
i was never a believer in astrology, but when thinking about george bush as president of the united states, what else could it possibly be?
...it just looks as though we are going in an inexorable direction, and nothing and no-one can seem to stop it. i seriously dont understand.
...how is it possible that nothing seems to be changing course?

Posted by: jacqueline | Dec 4, 2006 7:41:46 AM

The Wall Street Journal today says that up to 30,000 more troops could be 'needed' in Iraq, to patrol Baghdad and assist with training Iraqi forces. How much more detailed do you want things to be? Do you want thirty thousand job descriptions?

Posted by: Toby | Dec 4, 2006 8:38:35 AM

Toby, we "need" 30k troops to run patrols IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE WHAT?

A stable and peaceful democracy? A 30 percent decrease in the number of sectarian deaths in Baghdad? Confiscating an additional 30 percent of the militias' weaponry? Sealing off the borders to stop new weaponry from coming in? Cracking down on the systemic corruption that is destabilizing the unity government and leading to cash being siphoned off to finance the insurgencies and the sectarian militias? Bring back the educated middle class that's largely fled in anticipation of a massive bloodbath?

Hell, do we even have 30,000 troops fully trained in the proper unit skills and specific area expertise (MPs, etc)? If we don't, how long will it take them to come up to full trained strength and go over there?

Or, rather, do we "need" 30k troops for domestic political reasons? So that when this situation really goes to hell in a handbasket, we can say it's the fault of whoever opposed adding 30k more troops, and not the fault of the people in positions of responsibility who supported this obviously half-assed idea to invade Iraq in spite of the fact that it was an obviously half-assed plan put together by an Administration that was dangerously deceitful about everything from why we were going in there to what we could reasonably expect when we got in there.

Really, "more patrols in baghdad" is a plan for victory? Why don't we just organize a parade, so the Iraqi people remember they're suposed to be greeting us as liberators?

Posted by: theorajones | Dec 4, 2006 9:51:38 AM

All this talk about more troops, fewer troops. It's all meaningless until we start thinking about what our new, reality-based objective in Iraq ought to be. That's the discussion I'm waiting to hear. Our national debate ought to be a political one. Instead, it seems as if all the pundits are playing armchair general, a task for which they are spectacularly ill-suited. So, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's decide, as a nation, what is our new purpose in Iraq … as of today. Find the balance between our national interests and our moral obligations to the Iraqi people. Then, if there's any military component to it, let the professionals do their job and tell us what troop levels are needed.

Posted by: Kevin Walker | Dec 4, 2006 11:57:33 AM

Over the weekend I heard a short interview with an Iraqi Army enlisted man in a segment about this. The Iraqi basically said "the insurgents, al Sadr's men, know exactly what they are fighting for. What exactly are we fighting for? No one can say." It is all well and good to say that the extra troops will be patroling neighborhoods or cleaning latrines or whatever, but there is still no real overall plan, no clear agenda other than "save the chief's political ass".

Posted by: sprocket | Dec 4, 2006 12:15:08 PM

McCain pointed out this morning in the Gates hearings that there is talk about removing troops from Anbar to put them in Bagdad. Obviously more troops are needed even for the current operations. That the generals there continue to deny this is no more comforting than it was when they were denying it after the invasion, when civil order broke down and the borders were unsecured. McCain called attention to the fact that the current military is too small for its mission, and that this has been true for several years. He didn't press Gates directly on sending more troops to Iraq, so he may not be pressing that point so much now.

To put sprocket's point somewhat differently, there has always been an overall plan for Iraq. What has been lacking has been some of the specific planning needed to accomplish it. The Administration went in in a half-assed way and has never caught up. Possibly Gates will be more capable of that; I don't have any great faith in Rice on the State Department end.

Posted by: Sanpete | Dec 5, 2006 11:53:08 AM

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