Groundhog Day News

David Petraeus is the Iraq groundhog:  he pops up every six months and talks about the war.  Randy Kuhl articulates his view of the groundhog's March shadow in a press release that's full of the same rhetorical tricks he's been using for years. 

Here's one example -- everyone who's against the war was raised wrong:

I was raised, like many generations of Americans, on the principle that you must finish what you started. Regardless of one’s opinion on how and why the United States became involved in Iraq, we must complete what we began.
I guess Kuhl has been so beaten down that even he no longer uses the word "victory".  His new substitute, "finish", is even more meaningless.  Like Petraeus, Kuhl stubbornly refuses to discuss any kind of end game in Iraq, other than the notion that Iraq should be a "democracy". 

Kuhl also included this straw man:

Too many current and aspiring Members of Congress are quick to ignore and refute the guidance of the two men who know the most about the military and diplomatic situation in Iraq.
I haven't heard much refutation of Petraeus' and Crocker's analysis of the situation on the ground:  progress is "fragile and reversible".  The question is what to do about that situation.  In other words, what's our strategy?  Leaders' opinions often differ from those of Generals and Ambassadors.  Lincoln actually fired a few generals, as did Roosevelt and Truman.  Perhaps Kuhl, who aspires to leadership in his party, might want to exercise some here.

Kuhl's apparently signed on to the John McCain political suicide pact:  100 years or forever, whichever comes first.  It doesn't have to be this way -- there are Republicans who disagree.  I've included the words of one after the break:
SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R), Ohio: Condoleezza Rice should get together with you guys and she should work day in and day out to let them know, "Folks, we're on our way out." And I just wonder: Do you understand that, that that's where we're at?

We have somebody sitting across the table here, maybe the next president of the United States. And the American people have had it up to here.

And, you know, we appreciate the sacrifice that you've made and your families have made. Lives have changed forever. But the truth of the matter is -- and I'm sure your guys and women understand it.

Do you know something? We haven't sacrificed one darn bit in this war, not one, never been asked to pay for a dime, except for the people we lost.

And I'd like to know: What do you think about the idea of really coming up with a surge during this next 10 months and let them know, you know, it's going to be over here, folks, and you'd better get at it?

RYAN CROCKER: Well, Senator, I appreciate the -- you know, the sense of frustration that you articulate. I share it. I kind of live it every day. I mean, the reality is it is hard in Iraq, and there are no light switches to throw that are going to go dark to light.
This is from last night's Newshour coverage.


Lincoln fired his generals for not shedding enough blood - his favorite General, US Grant treated his troops like cannon fodder.

I am still of the opinion that we will pay a great price down the road for pulling out of Iraq

My reading of history is that Lincoln fired McClellan because he wouldn't stand and fight, not because he (Lincoln) was bloodthirsty. In fact, if there was a man alive in the US in 1860 who wanted civil war less than Lincoln, I don't know who that would be.

But once war was inevitable, Lincoln pursued it doggedly, because he realized that half-hearted war is more cruel and more wasteful of human life than full-on, no-holds-barred war. A half-hearted war drags on and ends up killing more soldiers and civilians in the end.

The really sad fact about the current war is the disconnect between rhetoric and execution. If Iraq was really the enemy of the US that Bush said it was, why didn't we wage all-out, no-holds-barred war in Iraq? Instead, we've got this half-assed under-resourced war that is grinding our Army to bits, dividing the population, and weakening out country. And, to boot, we're letting the real enemy -- Al Qaeda -- gain strength in their real stronghold -- Afghanistan.

Never said Lincoln was bloodthirsty, just recognized the fact that many lives (over 140,000 union soldiers died in battle) would have to be lost to win the war. Our current war would have to last about 210 years to kill as many if the killing stayed at the same rate as the first 6 years. Yet we put the deaths of three soldiers on the front page of newspapers and as the lead story on TV. Every life is important, but as Lincoln realized they have to be lost to win a war.

Bush has screwed up the war and the economy, but it is too late to look back. The cow is out of the barn so to speak. The important thing is what we do next

Elmer, you're willing to admit that Bush has screwed up the war, but Bush acolytes like Randy aren't. Because they won't admit that things are a real mess in Iraq, we can't get a national discussion started about how to fix it. Instead, those of us who even contemplate leaving are morally suspect according to his rhetoric. Randy's current formulation is that we were raised wrong. Previously, we were cowards waving white flags.

The question for those who want to stay in Iraq is how we do it while maintaining our security in other parts of the world. The Army is being worn out. We must either increase its size or decrease our commitment in Iraq. That's a fact of life, not a political statement. Starting from there, where do we go? How do we get a better outcome in Iraq while not losing in Afghanistan and rebuilding the Army for another possible engagement elsewhere?

Any rational discussion of Iraq's future has to start with the reality of diminished resources which probably implies a pretty mediocre outcome. Bush's agenda is to deny reality until he leaves office. Kuhl, unlike Voinovich and other moderate Republicans, is along for the ride.

Many on the right just want to "stay the course". Many on the left want to just get out.

I think there must be some middle ground somewhere. I don't think it would be good for us to just abandon Iraq, it is too strategic.

We do need to add to the Army or pull back troops from somewhere. We still have around 70,000 troops in Germany, 47,000 troops in Japan and 37,000 troops in South Korea. - that's 154,000 troops in just these 3 countries.

Bush is history now and he will not change his mind. The next president will have to work with congress to decide what needs to be done in the best interest of the country, not for political gain.

I agree that if we were in a real war, we'd be looking at emptying those overseas garrisons and putting those troops into Iraq rotation.

For better or worse, the time for the middle-ground compromise that you seek has probably passed. Unless McCain is elected, the next president will slowly withdraw from Iraq.

The legacy of the next president may depend on how he (or she) handles Iraq.

Worse case scenario: our pulling out of Iraq ignites World War 3 - then the next president ends up with a worse legacy than Bush.

Other possible outcomes: civil war, genocide, Iraq dominance by Iran or Iraq run by terrorists.

Perhaps once Obama or Clinton or McCain get in office they will realize it is not as simple as just pulling out.

Granted, it is not the next president's fault we are where we are, but how they handle it is very important.

A side note - I wonder when spell checkers are going to add "Obama"?

Elmer, You sound as if you could be talking about Vietnam. Eisenhower talked of the Domino Theory (as did Reagan in Central America) yet this theory was controversial and just a theory. When you say "igniting World War 3" I think I've heard that somewhere before.

You also say that if we leave Iraq there will be a civil war. News flash: there already IS a civil war.

Also, I don't think anyone means "just pulling out" but instead means a steady draw down of the troops in a manner that does not endanger them.

I'll tell ya why this war reminds me of Groundhog Day---because Bush's "victory" in Iraq, his reasons for going in and his "Mission Accomplished" pronouncement are all something we tell ourselves but don't actually believe, much like the groundhog seeing its shadow or not being an indicator of an early or late spring.

I am saying is that the situation in Iraq is very volitile. I agree Bush screwed the whole thing up but the important thing is how we move forward from his mess. Trying to discuss what to do next is not helped by complaining about Bush - it is a given tht he has mismanaged the whole thing.

Trying to discuss what to do next is not helped by complaining about Bush

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

To continue with my beloved medical analogy, if someone operated on me and botched it, I would think twice about his other medial opinions.

"To continue with my beloved medical analogy, if someone operated on me and botched it, I would think twice about his other medial opinions."

The problem here is that you may not have needed surgery in the first place, but now that your doctor has botched it up, your new doctor now has new problems to fix