Wednesday, June 28, 2006

You've got to [cut and] walk, before you [cut and] run.

Update Appended: July 1, 2006
A short tutorial on what passes for political discourse on Iraq ...

First, the fiddler plays the tune:
Rove harsh on critics of Iraq War
By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Staff Writer
Published June 2, 2006

FORT LAUDERDALE — Presidential adviser Karl Rove told an enthusiastic crowd of Broward County Republicans on Friday night that the worst mistake the U.S. could make is to “cut and run” in Iraq....
“His instinct is to cut and run,” Rove said of Kerry. “If America cuts and runs in Iraq, who’s going to tell the families that their loss was in vain?”
Then the media dances to the tune:
And the chorus joins in:
Blog Posts that contain "cut and run" -
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By way of example, two soloists, pulled from the chorus, singing from the songbook, one from each wing, staking out the range of options -
To whit: Choosing between "cut and run" as explained from the right by Jim Sonderberg at Hardstarboard:

"Regrettably, some filthy mercenary traitors are still on our soil and hold elective office. And they still cannot take the heat of honest, open challenge:
Commenting on Karl Rove's remarks in a speech in New Hampshire where he charged that Democrats are "wrong, profoundly wrong" in wanting to cut and run in Iraq, an increasingly rabid anti-war Congressman John Murtha resorted to a personal attack on Rove on Sunday.
Or, as Mark Steyn parodied it in the aforelinked piece, "Even if there's no civil war, even if the insurgents' leader is dead and his network in ruins, even if the Iraqis are making huge progress in self-government, even if by any historical standard everything's going swell, the Defeaticrats refuse to budge: America needs to throw in the towel and hightail it out of there by the end of the year," no matter what. "Declare defeat and go home," no matter what the consequences, no matter how many Middle East "dominoes" fall (of which Iraq would be but the first), no matter how many thousands more American civilians have to die at home. Lib militant pacifist ideology has to be upheld - to the last man.
Or to "cut and walk", as explained from the left by Andy Ostroy at the Ostroy Report:
Despite it Being the Worst Military Blunder in U.S History, the GOP Sees Iraq War as Campaign Opportunity. Am I Missing Something?
... As Feingold said on Sunday's Meet the Press, we're being told we need to "stay in Iraq so that Cheney and Bush get to say that they were right. That appears to be why we're there. That appears to be the only logical reason to stay. A situation that is draining our military, that is hurting our recruiting. That is allowing Osama bin Laden to have us exactly where he wants us."
And what about "cut and run" being a sign of the Democrats' weakness; of their "retreat and defeatism?" How about this: is it cut and run when the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., calls for a troop drawdown of 7000 by September '06? Or a withdrawal of all but 40,000-50,000 troops by the end of '07? The NY Times Sunday reported that a classified Pentagon briefing by Casey calls for significant troop draw-downs within the same timetable outlined by Kerry, Murtha and other Democrats. But it's highly unlikely the Repugs will brand their guy a cut and run defeatist. To the contrary, his prescience will be characterized as military pragmatism."
Believe it or not, it is possible to see a rational and informative non-partisan discussion on what is going to happen with our military presence in Iraq, without the use of the phrase "cut and run" - This excerpt from a remarkable Chris Matthews interview with two articulate Iraqi veterans on Monday. Full transcript is linked and well worth the read:
'Hardball with Chris Matthews' Transcript from Monday, June 26.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL... Iraq war veteran Paul Rieckhoff is the executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He‘s also the author of “Chasing Ghosts.” Fellow veteran, Nathaniel Fick, is a marine captain who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he‘s the author of “One Bullet Away.”

MATTHEWS: But we can agree here, or you two fighting men can agree,... that ultimately it‘s up to the Iraqis to settle their civil war, to end the fight between the majority Shia and the minority Sunni, just the way we ended world war II, where we killed as many Nazis or a number of them but we basically said to the fighting people, who weren‘t obviously political, the war is over. Is that right, Paul?

RIECKHOFF: I think it is right. We‘ve got to determine what our metrics are for success and what a time line is. I think that‘s part of the reason why so many people in this country and people on the ground in Iraq want to see some sort of a time line. ...

MATTHEWS: How do we get out of there? How do we say we‘ve done the job?

FICK: It‘s an interesting question about time lines. I think that a phased withdrawal is something we have to talk about...

MATTHEWS: Should we have a secret time line?

FICK: Clearly..., the military is going to have a time line.

MATTHEWS: What do you make George Casey, the word that came out in the paper the last couple of days, since I‘ve been gone, that there is some sort of plan to bring out a couple brigades?

FICK: It‘s common sense. I‘m not surprised by it.

MATTHEWS: So within a year or two, you say we have a significantly lower number of troops.

FICK: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Do you agree with that?

RIECKHOFF: I do. I think it‘s inevitable. It doesn‘t matter if you‘re George Bush or Congressman Murtha, we‘re coming home. What we‘re arguing about now is a matter of time and the pace in which we do it. It‘s interesting to see, if the Democrats had proposed the same plan that General Casey did, there would have been Republicans on the hill saying this is cut and run. We need to move past this rhetoric...

MATTHEWS: So you gentlemen both agree that by the year 2008, we will be out of Iraq?

RIECKHOFF: I think we‘re going to start to see significant movement downward, absolutely. And I think it‘s because the generals in the Pentagon are going to force him to draw back our presence over there. I just think given the size of the active duty, we‘re very much over committed. And you can‘t continue to run the active duty in the Reserves this hard without a break.

FICK: I agree with Paul. The active duty force and the reserve force can‘t keep up this pace, but I think our own national interest will keep some presence on the ground there. Certainly not this large, but some presence.

MATTHEWS: Something to fight the terrorists with, to stay out of politics.

FICK: Oh, that‘s right. And to maintain regional stability.

MATTHEWS: We‘re not in the political business anymore. Thank you, a lot of clarity there. Thank you Paul Rieckhoff and thank you Nathaniel Fick and thank you for your service, both of you gentlemen to our country."
So there you have it. The war in Iraq is ending for America. There is a timeline, and we are only arguing about time and pace. It'll end over the next couple of years, because the American people no longer thinks it makes sense for us to be there. and because our military no longer thinks it makes sense for us to be there. The political posturing and partisan name-calling will go on, but most of our troops are coming home.

It passes all understanding why anyone would think that either party is deserving of complete control of both the legislative and executive branches of government. If we can get back to divided government now, in 2006, perhaps we can execute this extraction from Iraq without further bungling.

UPDATE: 01-July-06
Paul Reickoff blogs about the interview on Hardball:
"I was on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Mathews to talk about the proposal of amnesty for insurgents in Iraq. I think the proposal to grant amnesty to people who attack American troops is ridiculous. It was an excellent talk--rare for TV. Not just another screaming match, I felt like the segment was a serious and thoughtful discussion of the issue. I was on with my friend Nate Fick and Matthews really gave us time to talk. Props to Mathews for having two Iraq vets on to talk about Iraq. Too many shows rely on using politicans and policy wonks for guests have never even been on the ground."
If you are interested in reading about alternative plans for getting our troops out of Iraq that get beyond the mindless "stay the course" -"cut and run" level of discourse, and guided by a vet who has been there on the ground, check out Paul's blog and his post at Huffington Post. This, the second in the series, is focused on the Zbignew Brzezinski plan.

Also consider contributing to the IAVA. They are doing great work really supporting our troops, both on the ground in Afganistan and Iraq and when they come home. You can get an autographed copy of Paul's book on their site.

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