Thursday, May 24, 2007

Caving to Rationality

The New York Times has an interesting article today about the reasoning behind the Democrats' latest war funding bill.

In a nutshell, they determined that the fight would not be worth the bruising they took for it. They are right, of course, not that the nutroots are their usual apoplectic and churlish selves.

The problem with the nutroots is that they think we should govern by least on this issue (they don't feel the same way about immigration, I notice). Sometimes doing the right thing isn't terribly expedient, and that was the situation here. The Dems could have sent another funding bill that was unacceptable and the President would have vetoed it...again. Since Dems don't have enough support to override the veto, it would be an exercise in futility.

Is it more important to send legislation to the executive branch that you know will be vetoed or to actually fund the troops? This should be a no brainer. If Dems want people to believe they support the troops then they should support the troops. It's not that hard.

I had to commend Speaker Pelosi on this one. While she disagrees with the bill, she acted as Speaker of the Whole House, not just the Democrats. She allowed legislation that was approved by the majority of Congress to be voted on, instead of holding it up like Dennis Hastert did.

The funding of our troops shouldn't be a political issue for these guys. If they really don't support the war, then defund it entirely and that will bring the troops home now. But don't play politics with the funding like you really do support the troops when what you are really concerned about is not appearing weak on defense.

Dale Franks at The Q and O Blog has a few questions for our liberal friends and I do, too.

Do you reject the "you broke it, you bought it" idea? If you do, that's fine. I'm not a priori opposed to punitive expeditions myself when it appears necessary, but punitive expeditions have never been a liberal "thing".

Do you think the Iraqis will find a way to cobble their state together? Do you think it will descend into a civil bloodbath? If so, then why don't we have any responsibility to try and prevent it? Compare and contrast with Kosovo and Darfur. What if Iraq turns into a Taliban-like cesspool, and becomes a base for terrorist operation against the US in the same way Afghanistan was?

Do you think that the Iraqis can build a stable, functioning democratic state? If not, why? Are they just not suited for Democracy as a people? If so, what are their deficiencies?

The other half of the question is what effect will it have on American security? Will it embolden terrorists? Will our withdrawal make it more or less likely that terrorists will begin marshaling forces for another 9/11 style attack? Why?

On the Global War on Terror more generally, will a withdrawal from Iraq help or hinder that effort? Or do we need to make an effort at all, other than some Special Ops stuff here and there, and intelligence, prevention, and law enforcement operations otherwise? What would be the US's military role after a withdrawal from Iraq? Does the US military actually have much a role beyond repelling an invasion?

Are we doomed to fail at achieving anything worthwhile in Iraq? Why? Is it something organic to Iraq, or simply a problem with the current president? Would another administration be able to achieve some reasonable level of peace and stability?

I'd love to hear the answers.

UPDATE: I posted a similar thread at CSPT to see what the untamed trolls there would say. Disappointingly, there's lots of snark and little information. However, Jack pointed to this Oliver Willis post as an example of what he thinks. I think it brushes off the seriousness of us pulling out of Iraq, frankly, and I may post on it later.