Okay, so I’m an ass.
Today, I feel vindicated in my beliefs and analysis about the war in Iraq and I don’t mind letting people know that their bitter recriminations and name calling directed against me are proving to be the shallow, ignorant postulates of the blindly partisan I always said they were. In the end, I am being proved correct and they are being proved wrong. And rather than disagreeing with me as grown up adults, so many of them chose to indulge themselves in a childish orgy of vicious name calling in comments, emails, and on their own blogs to the point that it became a travail to even write about Iraq. And whenever I did, I only ended up driving more of my conservative readers away.
I knew this at the time but felt that it was necessary for conservatives to wake up and smell the coffee about Iraq rather than swallowing the Administration’s line (and their legions of defenders) who were saying that a military “victory” was still possible when all the signs pointed to a disaster in the making. I could very well have continued finding silver linings in dark clouds in order to make the case for “staying the course” but in the end, that approach wasn’t tenable given the reality of what has been happening on the ground in that bloody country.
It’s just that when everything that I’ve put into building this site up has basically gone for naught because so many of my friends on the right have abandoned reading this blog – mostly because my position on the Iraq War has diverged from GOP and conservative orthodoxy – that I now feel compelled to do a little fist pumping because more and more Republicans are saying exactly the same things I’ve been saying for months; that it’s time to start redeploying our troops so that we can salvage something short of an unmitigated disaster from this military adventure:
Republican support for President Bush’s Iraq war policy suffered a significant crack Monday evening when Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana urged the president to change course in Iraq “very soon.”
The well-respected GOP voice on foreign affairs took to the Senate floor to urge Bush to avoid further damage to America’s military readiness and long-term national security.
“Our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond. Our continuing absorption with military activities in Iraq is limiting our diplomatic assertiveness there and elsewhere in the world,” he said.
Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also sounded a pessimistic note on the prospects for internal political progress in Iraq.
He said he sees “no convincing evidence that Iraqis will make the compromises necessary to solidify a functioning government and society, even if we reduce violence to a point that allows for some political and economic normalcy.”
The senator said continuing military operations in Iraq were putting a damaging level of stress on U.S. forces, “taking a toll on recruitment and readiness.”
“The window during which we can continue to employ American troops in Iraqi neighborhoods without damaging our military strength, or our ability to respond to other national security priorities, is closing,” he said. “The United States military remains the strongest fighting force in the world, but we have to be mindful that it is not indestructible.”
Lugar also said he believes the chances for success of Bush’s strategy of boosting troop levels in Iraq to try to get the security situation there under control is “very limited within the short period framed by our own domestic political debate.”
Every single conclusion reached by Lugar in the above excerpt was reached by me late last year. The lack of progress by the Iraqi government in dealing with their problems making the surge an exercise in futility; the toll on our military; and the ticking clock of public support for the war were all pointed out by me – for which I received the most vile criticism imaginable from some of my erstwhile friends.
Lugar isn’t the only Republican who is saying this, of course. Last month, a group of GOP House members confronted the President over Iraq in the White House and told him basically the same things. But when the ranking minority member of the Foreign Relations Committee – a man whose judgement on foreign and military affairs has been respected in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years – tells the President of the United States on the floor of the US Senate that he’s got to change course, Bush better listen. Otherwise, Republicans will be forced to work within the timetable framework offered by the Democrats. And that could only mean a catastrophic end to our involvement in Iraq as the artificial deadlines pulled more and more troops out of Iraq allowing the terrorists and militias to take over.
What Lugar wants is a sensible redeployment that will allow our troops to maintain a presence so that the country won’t fall apart completely:
Despite his call for a course change, Lugar said he did not support calls by some Democrats for a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which he said “also fails to meet our security interests.”
Rather, he said a “downsizing and redeployment of United States military forces to more sustainable positions”—in rural locations of Iraq, Kurdish areas or possibly Kuwait—might better serve American security interests.
And to make my vindication complete – and even sweeter – is Lugar’s call for a bi-partisan consensus on Iraq:
“The president and some of his advisers may be tempted to pursue the ‘surge’ strategy to the end of his administration, but such a course contains extreme risks for United States national security,” Lugar said. “The president and his team must come to grips with the shortened political timeline in this country for political operations in Iraq.”
“A course change should happen now, while there is still some possibility of constructing a sustainable bipartisan strategy in Iraq. If the president waits until the presidential election campaign is in full swing, the intensity of confrontation on Iraq is likely to limit [options],” he said.
While a handful of other Republican senators have broken with the Bush administration over Iraq, Lugar’s call for a course change—which his spokesman, Andy Fisher, said was “months in the making, weeks in writing”—is likely to have particular resonance, given his stature as one of the party’s elder statesmen on foreign policy.
I know I shouldn’t feel this way. It’s petty, juvenile, and will serve only to make people madder at me. And I also know that the minute I hit that “publish” button, I’m going to regret putting this post up.
So be it. If I can’t be a sonuvabitch on my own blog, and tell people who have accused me of being a “traitor” and worse to go screw themselves, then to hell with it. I might as well take up tiddly winks or some other non-contact sport. Because what this site has been about since its inception has been a full frontal assault on the stupidity of the left. May as well throw some righties under the bus while I’m at it.
UPDATE: FROM THE “SEE WHAT I MEAN” FILE
535 COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF: Now it’s Richard Lugar calling for a new strategy. Maybe we could do something to stop Iranian troops entering Iraq? I don’t think he has anything so useful in mind, though.
UPDATE: Fresh back from Iraq, J.D. Johannes posts a wrapup. And he emails that he’s got a rant about Senators on the way: “you know, we could have this thing all but won and still declare defeat. That is sickening.” Our political class isn’t known for bravery or discipline.
First, Confederate Yankee has debunked the “Iranian troops entering Iraq” story pretty thoroughly. Secondly, I will ask a question of Mr. Johannes: Just what is it you think we have “all but won” in Iraq?
The insurgents defeated? Al Qaeda destroyed utterly? Foreign fighters vanquished and prevented from entering the country? Iraq at peace and a stable society? The Iraqi government building a multi-sectarian democracy?
That’s a start as far as barometers for “victory.” And we’re nowhere near achieving any of them!
So I will ask again. Just what is it you think we are on the brink of winning in Iraq if only we allow the American military to continue our current strategy?