Monday, February 12, 2007

Liberal Bloggers on Democrats on Iraq

Glenn Greenwald thinks that liberal bloggers are taking it easy on Democratic members of Congress who aren't making efforts to de-fund the war in Iraq, and he wonders why:
Activists and bloggers routinely demand, based both on principle and political strategy, that their political leaders unapologetically embrace the political position that is Right, and do not generally accept the excuse that doing so is politically unpopular or unlikely to succeed. Bloggers and others demanded support for all sorts of important measures that had little chance of success -- opposition to, even a filibuster of the, Alito nomination, opposition to the Military Commissions Act, opposition to the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. On an issue as crucial as ending the war in Iraq, is likely legislative failure really a justifiable excuse for failing to push that issue, advocate that as a solution, and force a vote?

There are some obvious political considerations that potentially explain the muted objections to Democratic inaction on the war. The most obvious, and the most ignoble, is a desire that the war in Iraq -- as hideously destructive as it is -- still be raging during the 2008 elections, based on the belief that Americans will punish Republicans for the war even more than they did in the 2006 midterm elections. Is that naked political calculation driving some of the unwillingness of some Democratic elected officials to end the war? One would like to think not, but it is growing increasingly more difficult to avoid that suspicion.

I think Glenn is right that criticism of Democrats by liberal bloggers is muted. To be fair he lists other explanations for the phenomenon, but I think the "naked political calculation" is going a little too far. Although no liberal blogger would admit to holding such an attitude even if they did, and it would be easy to disguise it in blog writing, I can't think of a single blog that I've read out of the hundred or more so liberal blogs I read on a regular basis that so much as has discussed what a still-raging war could mean in 2008 except in how it might effect who the Republican presidential candidate is, and certainly not to the extent that it might benefit Democrats. Instead the writing is constantly focused on the descent of Iraq into chaos, the idiocy of the "surge", and attacks on Republicans who refuse to support resolutions disapproving of the President's conducting of the war. I cannot honestly believe that any reputable liberal blogger thinks even in their heart of hearts that they would rather see the war continue for the benefit it would provide Democrats at the polls. Perhaps there are some who might at least see that as some sort of "upside" to being unable to force the President to end the war in Iraq, but again I've read no one who says even that much in print.

Having said that, it still seems true to me as well that Glenn is right and that criticism is muted. If liberal bloggers are as opposed to the war as they say they are, and are constantly calling for the end of the war, then the burden is upon us to explain why we are not criticizing Democrats for their unwillingness to de-fund the war, or explain why we think that is an improper course of action (politically or otherwise.)

I think that if you read enough of our blog, which is dominated by discussion of the Iraq war, you will see quite quickly that we are entirely in favor of withdrawal, and that we believe Congress has the power to demand that American forces come home. If we have not criticized the slowness of Congress in seeing this done, it is only for lack of time, and not because we believe that Democrats should wait and let this conflict fester even longer.

So, just to be clear, TWM supports the end of our intervention in Iraq in its current form. I personally lean towards a significant drawn down followed by a "redeployment" or "hunker down" of our forces to heavily fortified bases in Iraq, wherein they will act to prevent outside intervention and continue isolated attacks on Al Qaeda terrorists, but otherwise act mostly to protect themselves and let the Iraqi civil war take its course. If that becomes untenable, then they should be brought home in their entirety. I don't know if my co-bloggers support exactly that position (and perhaps they can clarify their own stances on this and my larger point in comments) but I am confident that they agree with me that the ultimate goal is to end our intervention in the civil war, radically reduce the pace of American casualties, and bring most of our forces home. We are patient with Democrats in Congress to the extent that they are limited in what they can do by Republican opposition, but we are not patient with any delay that is the product of a fear of being labeled as "soft" or "weak" on national security. We believe that Congress possesses the Constitutional authority to end the war tomorrow if they so desired. And we have utterly no patience with Democrats (we're looking at you Lieberman) or anyone else who argues that we must stay in Iraq because of the "dire consequences" that will take place upon our draw-down or complete withdrawal. And we will repeat that as many times as necessary.


adam said...

Here, here.

Nat-Wu said...

I pretty much support the idea of a draw-down and a hunker-down plan. My only objection to earlier Democratic mention of it was that they were still trying to say they could keep Iraq stable that way.

I still say that all we can do is prevent genocide by letting the factions separate themselves, then keeping them from wiping each other out by continuing to destroy or interdict major uses of force. This will not stop the terror squads as long as Sunnis and Shiites choose to live together, but it will keep the Shiites (the overwhelming majority) from wholesale slaughter of the Sunnis.

The fact that there are only two major blocs of power in Iraq (because the Kurds want nothing to do with the rest of the nation) simplifies the problem greatly. If an equilibrium can be reached where the Sunnis and Shiites can be convinced to simply live with each other, perhaps complete chaos can be avoided. At this point, I see it as necessary to let Iraq split along those lines and protect those boundaries. I'm not denying that much blood will be shed, but the Bush administration's unrealistic assertions and use of manpower will cause much more to flow if given the opportunity.