Sunday, February 18, 2007

Courageous leadership, or political pandering?

Why was General Patraeus unanimously approved as our new commander in Iraq, if Democrats were going to pull the plug on the mission before we could even begin to have any success? And if they are deadset on withdrawal, why haven't Democrats started planning for what they are going to do in the aftermath of a hasty US pullout from Iraq? Are we going to partition the country? Withdraw to Kurdistan? Strike a deal with Iran or Syria? Does "pulling out" mean all 150,000 troops? Are we going to leave any of them to fight Al Qaeda? As Joe Biden pointed out, just "bringing home the troops" is not a plan or a strategy. It is a politically convenient and intellectually inane talking point.

One absolutely cannot discuss withdrawal without having a plan for it - and it better be a damn good one. The risks that would follow such a power vacuum in Iraq are enormous, and the Democrats aren't even beginning to acknowledge it, let alone discuss how to prevent a wider catastrophe. This is not Vietnam. This is not Vietnam. This is not Vietnam. There won't be a communist takeover and then peace once we leave. There will be far more violence. It is immoral and irresponsible to just plan on packing up and going home, leaving the region to implode in an orgy of ethnic cleansing, civil war, and regional conflict.

And now Hillary Clinton, one of those wise souls that voted for the Iraq war, and said a few weeks ago that she supported the 'surge', has started talking about a 90 day deadline to have troops out of Iraq. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that things can't get worse. Well, they can. And guess what? Its our responsibility to help fix it, whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Don't even think about it.

I'd like to reiterate how strongly I would oppose a unilateral air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Some time ago, we sent a second carrier strike group to the gulf. A bit of sabre rattling, but not something to be alarmed about. In fact, I suspected that Bush's personality might come as an advantage in this standoff with Iran. Think about it - if Americans are worried whether Bush is going to bomb Iran, Iranians have got to be wondering more when than if its going to happen. In this game of diplomatic chicken that we seem to be playing, perhaps that might be the impetus that the Iranian leadership needs to negotiate a deal.

A strong position against Iran is very important. While Iranian support for Iraqi Shia insurgents is mostly exaggerated, Iran's support for Hezbollah is well documented. As we saw last summer, that proved to be a very destabilizing force in the region. I'm also very concerned with the Iranian nuclear pursuit, as I've written before. Not because I'm concerned that Iran will go and nuke Israel or even pass off nukes to terrorists (which is possible, but unlikely). The main risk is that Iranian nukes spark a regional arms race with the Gulf Arab states; Saudi Arabia and Egypt in particular. A nuclear armed Middle East would be a disaster waiting to happen.

This all being said, a strike on Iran's nuclear sites would be a disaster. It would rally their people around the government at a time when Ahmedinejad is becoming less popular in Iran for his extreme rhetoric. The air strikes would probably do little, if any good. We set back the nuclear program for a couple of years, and then what? Iran could retaliate throughout the world; in Iraq, Europe, and America. If we think the Shia insurgency in Iraq is bad now, just wait till we bomb Iran. Its just not worth it, not yet anyways. If we must do something, we should impose an oil embargo with our Navy - prevent Iran from exporting any of its oil.

The reason I write this now is because I've just heard that Bush sent a 3rd carrier strike group to the Middle East, and now I'm nervous that Bush isn't bluffing. If legally possible, congress should pass legislation that would prevent Bush from striking Iran without congressional approval. And Americans need to speak up and make sure this President knows that we don't want another war.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Subverting Democracy

Fabricating Casus belli. I'll say it again - I'm not against impeachment.

Speaking of getting rid of Bush. My presidential picks are definitely between two men: John McCain and Barack Obama. McCain has been my favorite for years now. Even though hes been selling out to the right a bit lately (hey, everyone has to play the game), he is one of the most genuine and most capable leaders this country has. In the event that relations worldwide are deteriorating and war or confrontation looks likely, theres nobody that I'd rather have than McCain.

Lots of things could go wrong with the world, too. Things could spiral out of control with North Korea. There could be a confrontation with China over Taiwain. The violence in Iraq would result in a regional war with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, et cetera. Russia has been becoming more...fascist, lately; some speak of a renewed cold war. Incidentally, Putin had some disparaging remarks about the US this week; McCain's rebuttal was very impressive.

However, if things between North Korea and Iran have cooled down, and Iraq's violence is localized to that nation only, I'd support Barack Obama. This nation's image worldwide has been horribly damaged, and we need a salesman. Someone charismatic and appealing, to again sell America to the rest of the world. Electing an ethnic minority Democrat would send a positive message to Europe and to our own minorities. The election of B. Hussein Obama might suggest to the Arab and Muslim world that American's aren't as Islamophobic as they might think. And having an African president would go a long way towards developing great partnerships with African nations.

Besides, who else can compete? Hillary Clinton, who voted to invade Iraq but now has no ideas on how to fix it? She is so divisive, and calculating. What about Mitt Romney? A Mormon who is catering to the far-Christian right; where do I sign up!? Rudi Giuliani? Name one thing he has done other than be mayor of NY during 9/11. I'm not saying hes a bad guy, but that hes overrated. John Edwards? As Joe Biden pointed out, he knows nothing about Iraq and how to fix it. Incidentally, Joe Biden is the other foreign policy guru that I could support, except that I dont agree with his idea to partition Iraq (nor do any Iraqis or Arabs for that matter). And lets face it, the Democrat race is a two person contest between Hillary and Obama.

So there it is. McCain or Obama. Nobody else measures up.