Iraq Debate Moving to Higher Ground?


I’m assuming most TWN readers have seen this before:

Iraq is and will continue to be about 90 percent of the foreign policy conversation in this campaign (still not happy about that). And right now, much of the Iraq debate has revolved around redeployment details: who, how many, how fast, etc. It’s a debate over tactics, albeit one with huge consequences, but it is not the kind of debate over the U.S. role in the world that the country needs.
John McCain’s pronouncement that he’d be ok with a U.S. military presence in Iraq for 100 (1,000…10,000…etc.) years could change all that. So far, some of McCain’s critics have tried to fit this comment into the narrow “withdrawal” debate, suggesting that what he really means is that he’d be fine with no redeployments and perpetual war. That’s not what McCain said at this New Hampshire town hall meeting — but then again, he may hold that belief since neither he nor anyone else has given us any reason to believe that things will change in Iraq if we “stay the course,” so it’s a fair inference on the part of these critics.
More important is what McCain actually did mean: that the U.S. should maintain a military presence in Iraq not only as long as it takes to end hostilities, but long after hostilities have ended. Iraq will not be anything like Japan, Germany or South Korea in the foreseeable future. Given the events of the past five years, the Iraqi population simply will not tolerate a permanent U.S. military presence, especially if large-scale violence has ended. McCain is seeing things through a 20th century prism that minimizes the costs and sometimes destabilizing effects of projecting U.S. military power around the world.
Democrats and moderate Republicans should engage on this point with every bit as much fervor as they engage on the withdrawal debate. The case needs to be made that there are costs to overdeploying the U.S. military and that alternative sources of power — international laws, institutions and diplomacy — can fill the gap. This is one answer — though certainly not the only one — to the question of how to make the Iraq debate about something bigger that I hope Matt Yglesias’s book will help to address.
There’s no need to use the “100 years” quote to paint the man into a corner and portray him as a proponent of perpetual war (even though he may in fact be one). His argument is wrong on its face and needs to be dealt with head on.
— Scott Paul


12 comments on “Iraq Debate Moving to Higher Ground?

  1. söve says:

    Over the years, GAO söve has interpreted “publicity or propaganda” restrictions to preclude söve use of appropriated funds for, söve among other things, so-called “covert propaganda.” … Consistent söve with that view, OLC determined in 1988 that a statutory prohibition söve on using appropriated funds for söve “publicity or propaganda” precluded undisclosed agency söve funding of advocacy by söve third-party groups. We stated that “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties” söve would run afoul of restrictions on using appropriated funds for “propaganda.”


  2. David says:

    Excellent experience-based comment, rollingmyeyes.
    Be interesting, in a sickeningly macabre way, to see what unfolds when the bombing of Iran commences. This administration is like a five-year-old with a loaded 9mm.


  3. rollingmyeyes says:

    I was stationed on the DMZ in Korea with the 1st Cav in 1958, five years after hostilities ended. I never feared for my life. we wore helmets only during training, and carried a weapon only during guard duty or training. We traveled in busses or soft-sided trucks. Believe me, I knew South Korea, and Iraq is no Korea. Not even if we stay there 100 years.


  4. Homer says:

    Scott Paul: Given the events of the past five years, the Iraqi
    population simply will not tolerate a permanent U.S. military
    presence, especially if large-scale violence has ended.
    Past five years???
    Try past few decades!!!
    There are two main religio-political parties in Iraq, namely Al-
    Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
    During the few ****decades**** prior to the deposing of Saddam
    Hussein, Al-Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic
    Revolution in Iraq fought Saddam Hussein and tried to transform
    a secular Iraq into a pro-Iranian Shiite fundamentalist republic.
    During the few ****decades**** prior to the deposing of Saddam
    Hussein, the leaders of Al-Dawa and the Supreme Council for
    the Islamic Revolution in Iraq were exiled in Iran and Syria.
    Consequently, it is naive to think that it is just because of the
    last five yearsthat the Iraqi population simply will not tolerate a
    permanent U.S. military presence.
    The US is dying a death of a thousand cuts.
    When it has been bled to a ghostly white and is no longer of any
    use, the US will be forcefully expulsed.
    This is just a matter of time.
    It is foolish to disregard the long and close ties the Iraqi
    Parliament has with extremist elements in Iran.


  5. Roger says:

    What does anybody expect? There has never been a more inept,
    unelected, “leader” of a “democratic” society in recorded history.
    We are the laughing stock of every country in the world.


  6. Roger says:

    We’ll see what happens on the downhill side of Peak Oil when
    Americans face gas rationing so McCain can keep his troops in 100
    countries for 100 years.


  7. JohnH says:

    “There’s no need to use the “100 years” quote to paint the man into a corner.”
    Agreed. But who will be the first to stop the “gotcha” politics?


  8. dwg says:

    some of us are more than ready for BOTH Carter and Wright.
    and have been for some time.


  9. ... says:

    poa – americans aren’t ready for carter or wright… they still think obama is a muslim… talk about a backward country..


  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So, how much of our money did these son of a bitches spend on this crap?
    Is it possible that these people ARE actually working for the “people”, its just that they are confused as to which “people” they work for?
    Is Israel going to pay their wages while they stand in Washinton bent over with their pants down, butts obediently aimed overseas??
    Congress Reaffirms Strength of U.S.-Israel Alliance
    Congress recognized Israel’s 60th anniversary.
    In a landmark display of U.S. friendship to Israel, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed resolutions recognizing the 60th anniversary of Israel’s birth and reaffirming the close ties between the United States and Israel. In the Senate, the resolution (S. Res 522) was cosponsored by the entire chamber and passed by unanimous consent. The House approved its version (H. Res. 322) by a resounding vote of 417-0. The Speaker of the House, who traditionally does not cosponsor legislation, joined Democratic and Republican House leaders as a lead sponsor of the bill. The resolutions were introduced in the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), and in the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So, without exception, our so called “leaders” have spent the last week fawning over Israel, passing a bill that is praiseful of Israel, standing at the pulpit, slavering over Israel with longwinded lauditory orations, and generally WASTING OUR EFFIN’ MONEY on PURE UNADULTERATED HORSESHIT.
    Is this REALLY what we pay these bastards for?
    Meanwhile, have you seen any of the pathetic candidates, or our worthless overpaid “Representatives”, break free from their sniveling cowardly posturing long enough to telelegraph any intention to shut down Bush’s American version of the old Soviet TASS agency?
    Why would they? I mean what more could they ask for than a bunch of pox ridden whores in the media that are willing, for a price of course, to shamelessly disregard the truth and ethics in lieu of drooling the carefully scripted bullshit that has enabled the murder of more than one million innocent Iraqis, the expendure of countless billions of dollars, the loss of our military’s moral and structural integrity, and the complete destruction of this nation’s credibility?
    No, these pieces of shit, with rare exception, would rather whore themselves to Israel for a week, pompously coiffed with bad hairpieces, three thousand dollar suits, and diamond studded pinkie rings.
    Too one of these pathetic posturing fops doesn’t have Jimmy Carter’s integrity, and reverend Wright’s balls. Now THERE would be a leader.
    Pentagon Pundit Scandal Broke the Law
    The Pentagon military analyst program unveiled in last week’s exposé by David Barstow in the New York Times was not just unethical but illegal. It violates, for starters, specific restrictions that Congress has been placing in its annual appropriation bills every year since 1951. According to those restrictions, “No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress.”
    As explained in a March 21, 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service, “publicity or propaganda” is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials, (2) purely partisan activity, or (3) “covert propaganda.” By covert propaganda, GAO means information which originates from the government but is unattributed and made to appear as though it came from a third party.
    These concerns about “covert propaganda” were also the basis for the GAO’s strong standard for determining when government-funded video news releases are illegal:
    The failure of an agency to identify itself as the source of a prepackaged news story misleads the viewing public by encouraging the viewing audience to believe that the broadcasting news organization developed the information. The prepackaged news stories are purposefully designed to be indistinguishable from news segments broadcast to the public. When the television viewing public does not know that the stories they watched on television news programs about the government were in fact prepared by the government, the stories are, in this sense, no longer purely factual — the essential fact of attribution is missing.
    In a related analysis, the GAO explained that “The publicity or propaganda restriction helps to mark the boundary between an agency making information available to the public and agencies creating news reports unbeknownst to the receiving audience.”
    In case anyone disagrees with the GAO on this point, here’s what the White House’s own Office of Legal Council had to say, in a memorandum written in 2005 following the controversy over the Armstrong Williams scandal (when it was discovered that the Bush administration had actually paid him to publicly endorse its No Child Left Behind Law):
    Over the years, GAO has interpreted “publicity or propaganda” restrictions to preclude use of appropriated funds for, among other things, so-called “covert propaganda.” … Consistent with that view, OLC determined in 1988 that a statutory prohibition on using appropriated funds for “publicity or propaganda” precluded undisclosed agency funding of advocacy by third-party groups. We stated that “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties” would run afoul of restrictions on using appropriated funds for “propaganda.” (emphasis added)
    The key passage here is the phrase, “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.” As the Times report documented in detail, the Pentagon’s military analyst program did exactly that.
    1)It was covert. As Barstow’s piece states, the 75 retired military officers who were recruited by Donald Rumsfeld and given talking points to deliver on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and MSNBC were given extraordinary access to White House and Pentagon officials. However, “The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”
    2)It was an attempt to mold opinion. According to the Pentagon’s own internal documents (which can be downloaded and viewed from the New York Times website), the military analysts were considered “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who would deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.” According to one participating military analyst, it was “psyops on steroids.”
    3)It was done “through the undisclosed use of third parties.” In their television appearances, the military analysts did not disclose their ties to the White House, let alone that they were its surrogates. The military analysts were used as puppets for the Pentagon. In the words of Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and for Fox News military analyst, “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.”
    Continues at….


  12. TonyForesta says:

    The flip flop flip flop flipping on Iraq would be hilarious were it not so bloody, costly, and horrible.
    Iran won Iraq.
    America is never leaving Iraq.
    There will by necessity be a reduction of US forces and commitment to the bloody, costly horrorshow and excuse for wanton profiteering Irag, and a redeployment of force and a redirection of focus on netherland bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    Future leaders will have to manage and nuclear Iran.
    America’s credibility, legitimacy, and standing in the community of nations is deeply scarred and tainted.
    The untouchable immune, dictators, tyrants and wanton profiteers in the Bush government are singularly responsible, accountable, and culpable for America’s turmoil at home and abroad.
    America’s only hope for righting the terrible wrongs of the fascists in the Bush government, is placing impeachment firmly on the table, holding criminals accountable for crimes, liars accountable for lies, and wanton profiteers accountable for wanton profiteering, – and begining the arduous and daunting process of restoring the rule of law, and the Constitution to the conduct of our government.
    Iraq is, was, and always will be a crime scene. There is no good any American will ever recognize from the Bush governments deceptive costly bloody, horrorshow, and excuse for wanton profiteering in Iraq. Cut our losses, secure and defend our interests (the oil) leave the government of Iraq to Iraqi’s, forget about democratizing the ME, and return in earnest to necessary work of hunting, capturing, or killing every jihadist mass murderer, and all those who aid and abet them on the planet.


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