Majority Leader Boehner’s Confidential Strategy Memo For Thursday’s Iraq Debate
June 14, 2006 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Majority Leader Boehner’s Confidential Strategy Memo For Thursday’s Iraq Debate On Thursday, the House of Representatives will hold a debate on the Iraq war. Media reports say Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “hopes to match the serious, dignified tone of deliberation that preceded the Gulf war, in 1991.” ThinkProgress has obtained a “Confidential Messaging Memo” from Boehner instructing his caucus to conduct a very different kind of deliberation. Here’s a quick summary:
posted by Postroad (71 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
9/11, 9/11, 9/11, l'brruls are pussies, either you're with us or you're with the t'rrists.
posted by ericb at 8:54 AM on June 14, 2006


Looks like Karl Rove's 'back in the saddle.'
posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on June 14, 2006


Infuriating that the GOP leadership is much, much more focused on fighting Dems than our adversaries in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Probably not too different on the Dem side.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:58 AM on June 14, 2006


LAUGH AT MY BOEHNER, WILL THEY?
posted by Greg Nog at 8:58 AM on June 14, 2006


LAUGH AT MY BOEHNER, WILL THEY?

Dick Cheney before he dicks you.
posted by ericb at 9:04 AM on June 14, 2006


Nice Boehner! Damn, beaten by Greg Nog.
posted by zpousman at 9:17 AM on June 14, 2006


I can't decide whether the memo itself, or the media's description of Boner's inentions, is funnier.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 9:17 AM on June 14, 2006


Well, it's good to see USS Ship of Fools is still sailing full steam ahead. Iceberg? What iceberg?
posted by doctor_negative at 9:19 AM on June 14, 2006


Where's the quick summary, postroad?
posted by Meatbomb at 9:20 AM on June 14, 2006


Ah, sorry, I see now you are just cutting and pasting without attention to the punctuation.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:21 AM on June 14, 2006


quick summary:

1. Exploit 9/11. The two page memo mentions 9/11 seven times. It describes debating Iraq in the context of 9/11 as “imperative.”

2. Attack opponents ad hominem. The memo describes those who opposes President Bush’s policies in Iraq as “sheepish,” “weak,” and “prone to waver endlessly.”

3. Create a false choice. The memo says the decision is between supporting President Bush’s policies and hoping terrorist threats will “fade away on their own.”
posted by mathowie at 9:23 AM on June 14, 2006


Such lovely cutthroats, these guys are. It makes me all verklempt.
posted by blucevalo at 9:23 AM on June 14, 2006


C'mon doctor_negative.

This administration isn't the Titanic! It isn't sinking, it's soaring! Soaring like the Hindenburg!
posted by Relay at 9:24 AM on June 14, 2006


Huge Manatee? What huge Manatee?
posted by mmahaffie at 9:31 AM on June 14, 2006


The memo says the decision is between supporting President Bush’s policies and hoping terrorist threats will “fade away on their own.”

I see the terrorist threat as something like a hornets' nest in your garage. The administration would like us to believe that there are only two choices for dealing with the hornets:

1) Ignore them and hope they'll go away.

2) Go out there and start whacking the nest with a baseball bat.

Neither is a wise solution.
posted by EarBucket at 9:34 AM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


Huh-huh...huh-huh-huh...

You said Boehner!
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:38 AM on June 14, 2006


Glad to see that Bush and cronies are not using the old canard that Iraq had something to do with the attacks of 9/11. Because they promised us that that is not what they meant -- and that if, say, everybody in the U.S. started to believe this, that it was a spontaneous mass delusion.

Way to elevate the debate, Mr. Boehner! Way to argue about facts and history and policy!

Number of 9/11 hijackers from Iraq: 0

Number of 9/11 hijackers from Saudia Arabia: 15

Dicks. I know that I'm preaching to the choir of people who already know this, but this point must be hammered home. This is the wrong war, in the wrong country, for the wrong reasons.
posted by zpousman at 9:43 AM on June 14, 2006


I do hope they keep invoking 9/11 because only the dumbest of the dumb are buying that at this point. Keep it up pigs.
posted by 2sheets at 9:58 AM on June 14, 2006


Isn't it pronounced "BAY-ner"?
posted by b_thinky at 9:59 AM on June 14, 2006


DYA THINK?!?
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:01 AM on June 14, 2006


Despicable.
posted by OmieWise at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2006


1. Exploit 9/11.
2. Attack opponents ad hominem.
3. Create a false choice.


4. ???
5. PROFIT Bush / Cheney '08
posted by hangashore at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2006


I do hope they keep invoking 9/11 because only the dumbest of the dumb are buying that at this point. Keep it up pigs.

Something like 75% of US forces in Iraq believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11, as do millions of US voters. Those who have heard that it wasn't figure that all the "towelheads" were in on it together somehow.

Never underestimate the role of racism in this war.
posted by words1 at 10:23 AM on June 14, 2006


According to the memo, "we could no longer allow despots and dictators like the Taliban and Saddam Hussein to ignore international sanctions and resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council." When are we invading Israel?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:23 AM on June 14, 2006


Isn't it pronounced "BAY-ner"?

If you pronounce it properly in German, it's closer to "BER-ner." If you pronounce it phonetically in English, it's definitely Boner. It's only "BAY-ner" if you're desperately trying to convince people that your last name is not, in fact, Boner.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:24 AM on June 14, 2006


Well, it's good to see USS Ship of Fools is still sailing full steam ahead. Iceberg? What iceberg?

The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song!
posted by jefgodesky at 10:36 AM on June 14, 2006


Uh, why was this memo even necessary? It's not like it outlines any change from their old strategy...
posted by giantfist at 10:55 AM on June 14, 2006


good. let the whole GOP tie themselves to Iraq--Bush is already tanking because of it, so it'll drag them down too.

A majority of the country has seen Iraq as a mistake for quite a while now--nothing they say or do can change that--it's all about facts on the ground there. They can hurt us Dems, but it won't help them.
posted by amberglow at 11:26 AM on June 14, 2006


It's funny actually--gay marriage didn't pack the punch it has in the past, immigration has blown up in their faces, and there are more and more GOP officials under investigation each week--they have nothing else.

It's this and fake terror threats, i'm thinking, from now thru the election.
posted by amberglow at 11:29 AM on June 14, 2006


I see the terrorist threat as something like a hornets' nest in your garage. The administration would like us to believe that there are only two choices for dealing with the hornets:

1) Ignore them and hope they'll go away.

2) Go out there and start whacking the nest with a baseball bat.

Neither is a wise solution.


Of course not - there's always gasoline.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:32 AM on June 14, 2006


gay marriage didn't pack the punch it has in the past

Well, if they ever took any real action on either of the gay marriage or abortion issues, they couldn't paint the liberal boogeyman with them. Social conservatives are starting to notice that there has been suspiciously little movement in these areas, except around elections.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:33 AM on June 14, 2006


...Last year, Republicans intentionally incapacitated the Ethics Committee. And today, they are sabotaging accountability in Iraq.
Rampant corruption and incompetence in Iraq contracting have prolonged our mission there and cost lives. In fact, minimal oversight and the mismanagement of funds have resulted in unfinished projects involving Iraq's water supply, electrical capacity, and oil production - infrastructure crucial to reconstruction of Iraq:...
But despite that - or perhaps because of it - this Republican leadership is now undermining the only existing source of accountability for the Iraq reconstruction program: the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), Stuart Bowen.
Last year Mr. Bowen released a report showing 9 billion dollars missing reconstruction funds. Recently, Mr. Bowen, a former Bush lawyer, released a report documenting 72 ongoing investigations into cases of fraud, waste, and abuse. And as a result of his diligence, House Republicans have placed the Inspector General and his staff in the dog house, rewarding Mr. Bowen for his hard work by stripping him of his oversight authority on new reconstruction funds, and effectively taking him off the job. ...

posted by amberglow at 11:33 AM on June 14, 2006


What 2sheets and amberglow said, more or less. 9/11 was five years ago, and Americans have short memories. Many think Saddam was repsonsible, and Saddam was captured. There's no more political "capital" to be had by lashing the dead horse that is the occupation of Iraq. Go ahead and bring it up all you want Republicans--you broke it, you bought it.
posted by bardic at 12:02 PM on June 14, 2006


It's this and fake terror threats, i'm thinking, from now thru the election.

And you know what? I bet it's enough. I bet they keep both houses, maybe even pick up a few seats, and that they take the presidency again in '08. And all legitimately. Things are going to have to get a lot worse before this nation of philisophically corrupt fools picks up a clue or two as to how a civilization needs to proceed in the long term if it wants to survive and prosper.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2006



Isn't it pronounced "BAY-ner"?

If you pronounce it properly in German, it's closer to "BER- ner." If you pronounce it phonetically in English, it's definitely Boner. It's only "BAY-ner" if you're desperately trying to convince people that your last name is not, in fact, Boner.


FWIW there are (large) areas within Germany where the Boehner would indeed be pronounced close to "bayner"--for instance some areas within the former East Germany.

"Bayner" would be generally considered a local dialect pronunciation and not "Hochdeutsch" (standard German) but vowel shifts like this tend to carry over and flavor the local version of Hochdeutsch as well.

Not that anyone should let this ruin a perfectly good spate of 7th grade humor . . .
posted by flug at 12:22 PM on June 14, 2006


I read this account of a visit to North Korea (linked to from the recent thread) with interest. Something in it that was news to me was that much of the North Korean populace seemed to genuinely buy the party line - they weren't just paying lip service. The overwrought headlines in the state-controlled media, the gigantic murals and statues of Dear Leader everywhere, the monuments to hollow ideals of independence - with enough repetition, that stuff works, and people actually fall for that crap.

When I hear about something like this memo, I wonder: How different are we Westerners, really? It's true that in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Bush et al had to be a little subtler. But they managed to make sure that mentions of "Iraq" were closely juxtaposed with mentions of "9/11" in trusted media outlets over and over again. And it worked. Sure, not everyone was suckered by it, but a lot were.

Maybe we should be teaching our kids a little more about logic, and tricks of rhetoric and debate.
posted by Western Infidels at 12:25 PM on June 14, 2006


Either the mainstream press is astonishingly slow to take this up (won't be the first time) or it's a fake (won't be the first time). I vote the latter. A real memo wouldn't refer to a "false choice".
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:26 PM on June 14, 2006


And all legitimately.

There is absolutely no good reason to suspect the Republicans will take the chance of trying to win legitimately.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:28 PM on June 14, 2006


A real memo wouldn't refer to a "false choice".

That phrase is only in the summary of the memo. The full text is linked.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:29 PM on June 14, 2006


"They named it San Diago, which of course in German means a 'whale's vagina.'"
posted by bardic at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2006


The real problem is that even if they gave the Democrats advance notice of every single word they were going to say, the Dems would still flub it in response.
Thank God Kerry's in the Senate, so won't be able to speak on this...
posted by klangklangston at 12:36 PM on June 14, 2006


Thanks, PostRoad.

QuietDesperation: the "false choice" is ThinkProgress's commentary, not the memo itself. Click the link.

Quoting from the memo:

Republicans believe victory in Iraq will be an important blow to terrorism and the threat it poses around the world. Democrats, on the other hand, are prone to waver endlessly about the use of force to protect American ideals. Capitol Hill Democrats’ only specific policy proposals are to concede defeat on the battlefield and instead, merely manage the threat of terrorism and the danger it poses.

Not exactly conducive to the "serious, dignified tone of deliberation" that Boehner is publicly claiming to want.

The key question: is it still possible to win the war in Iraq, to return Iraqi society to a reasonably normal, stable level? Or is Iraqi public opinion now so hostile towards the US--as a result of the initial failure to re-establish security and stability, the ongoing failure to control the violence, Abu Ghraib, the ongoing civilian casualties--that the US will need to withdraw, sooner or later?

If the latter is true, no amount of US willpower and blood will change the outcome.
posted by russilwvong at 12:38 PM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm hoping for a nice suprise in Novemeber, but who was it who said ever understimate the ugliness and stupidity of the american people? Whoever it was it's not something these guys are in dnager of doing.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on June 14, 2006


Withdrawal isn't happening.

Republicans don't support it, and neither do many of the most influential Democrats on Middle East policy, and neither does the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for President in 2008, Hillary Clinton. Democrats who don't like the course of the war ought to get busy with solutions to fight it better, or they're just indulging themselves with wasted breath.
posted by MattD at 12:56 PM on June 14, 2006


Which makes Feingold look better and better every day, IMO. He didn't vote for PATRIOT either.
posted by bardic at 12:59 PM on June 14, 2006


Why should I believe this is true? I wouldn't be surprised if it is true, but I actually find it amazing that here nor at think progress that a single person has provided any due diligence verifying the claim. However, since it nicely fits within their predefined notions it's accepted as fact. Welcome to groupthink ... where positions that fit the group's world view do not require challenge. Kinda like Saddam and WMD, everyone knows its true so it must be true.
Personally, I give it 60% chance as being real, 40% as a joke/fake.
Also, they should have leaked it to the main stream media. Now all Boehner has to do is say it's fake and a desperate attempt by the left to smear his good name. Unless of course there's some hard evidence that's not being provided?
posted by forforf at 1:07 PM on June 14, 2006


Never underestimate the role of racism in this war.
posted by absalom at 1:15 PM on June 14, 2006


the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for President in 2008, Hillary Clinton

Oog. I wouldn't want to visit the scary parallel universe you live in MattD.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 1:15 PM on June 14, 2006


Infuriating that the GOP leadership is much, much more focused on fighting Dems than our adversaries in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Probably not too different on the Dem side.

ibmcginty: If only this were true. Much of the Dem leadership doesn't know who or what to fight, or fight for. And that's our problem. The two-party system is not functioning in this country, because the GOP is so much more focused and aggressive. Frankly, the only proper response to that kind of partisanship at this point is more partisanship from the other side.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:26 PM on June 14, 2006


Why should I believe this is true? I wouldn't be surprised if it is true, but I actually find it amazing that here nor at think progress that a single person has provided any due diligence verifying the claim.

The Hill, The National Journal, The Financial Times are reporting it. I suspect will see more "mainstream media" sources reporting on it, as well.
posted by ericb at 1:29 PM on June 14, 2006


Withdrawal isn't happening.

Antietam was really more of a "draw" than a clear victory for either side, but it was the first battle in which the Union was not completely dominated by the CSA; it gave Lincoln the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

The death of al Zarqawi is, in the broad view of things, not terribly significant, but if Bush can't see that this his one last opportunity to get out of there with anything left intact, he's even dumber than I thought. I'm sure they'll avoid the "W" word, but if this Camp David schtick doesn't end with something that looks a lot like withdrawal, I'll lose even what little respect I still had for the Bush administration's capacity for evil genius.

In the meantime, I fully expect the public message to be, and the debate in Congress to remain, all about empty sloganeering like "stay the course," "fight them there so we don't have to fight them here," "we'll stand down as they stand up," and other inane pandering.
posted by jefgodesky at 2:09 PM on June 14, 2006


I'm surprised no one has contrasted this with the Democratic to-do list. Going to the DNC website reveals that the Democrats are focused on:

security, strong economy, education, affordable health care, retirement security, honest government, the environment

Gee. Really? Call me a cynic but this sounds like white noise coming from a politician of any sort. Aren't these issues all just a given? If "The Agenda" is basically just the safest bare minimum, how do you expect to sway anyone?

Finally at the end we get to "Civil Rights & Justice". But they don't even mention anything related to the blows civil rights have taken over the last five years. In fact they have to go back to the Voting Rights Act to find something to brag about. So pardon me if I fail to get excited about a pledge from the Democrats to safeguard me civil rights. The last few years have proven they won't.

As a Democratic voter I feel the party is basically pledging to continue sitting on their hands. Which makes me mad, but what can I do? Vote Republican? Not a chance.

Which......... puts them in the same boat as the Republicans - Everything is working wonderfully. No need to alter course. Fluff, fear and nonsense wins elections.

In short - I'm more outraged at the DNC's milling about than I am at the RNC's fear and lies tactic.
posted by Binkeeboo at 2:14 PM on June 14, 2006


Most scholars regard Antietam differently. It was such an atrocious loss of life on both sides that Lincoln realized the Civil War was not going to be over in months with a relatively low body count, but an all-or-nothing affair that couldn't end with any compromise with the South. They would have to be destroyed, and the Emancipation Proclamation was a symbolic gesture telling the South, effectively, that Lincoln would see the Union destroyed before he'd allow any form of secession.

"No other single day of American history before or since has been so deadly. Nearly one of every four soldiers engaged was a casualty: killed, wounded, or captured. The savage fighting would be remembered by many who were there as the most intense of the war. If there were any among the troops who still thought of war as a glorious, noble undertaking, this battle would shatter that illusion. For the men of both armies, the American Civil War was now an all-out, life or death struggle."
posted by bardic at 2:19 PM on June 14, 2006


When is Congress planning on getting back to, you know, doing something?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:27 PM on June 14, 2006


Antietam was a bloody draw, yes, but a draw. Though, I'd always heard that the Emancipation Proclamation was a bit of a spin job to shift the frame of the war towards slavery to give the Union the moral high ground. The UK was making noises about recognizing the CSA, and since most Western countries had already abolished slavery, making the CSA all about slavery was a good way to scare off foreign help. Not that slavery was unrelated to the Civil War pre-Antietam, but it wasn't the only issue--probably the single most important of the many issues that led to secession, but my understanding is that pre-Antietam, most people saw the CSA as a different culture fighting for its independence, and the Big, Mean North oppressing them. Post-Antietam, you get the modern view of the conflict: CSA fighting to keep slaves, North fighting for freedom. From what I read, Lincoln was sitting on the Emancipation Proclamation for some time, waiting to issue it and reframe the war in his own, abolitionist terms, but needed a victory on the field before he could do that. Antietam wasn't exactly a victory for anybody, but it was close enough.

It's from that understanding that I'm looking at the present situation: killing al Zarqawi is the closest thing to a victory we're going to get. I can kind of understand the idea that we can't pull out except on our terms, but this is our Antietam--something less than victory, but the furthest from defeat we've yet seen, and the best opportunity we're going to get to reframe this conflict on our own terms, in this case, with a significant withdrawal.
posted by jefgodesky at 2:33 PM on June 14, 2006


I see where you're coming from, but I still think the analogy is a poor one. Maybe it was the bombing of the mosque in Samarra, and the recognition that a common nationality (Iraqi) nor a common religion (Islam) would prevent the escalation of a bloody, nasty civil war between Sunnis backed by Jordan and Shia (the overwhelming majority) backed by Iran.

The Kurds are happy to sit it out and play Switzerland, I imagine.
posted by bardic at 2:42 PM on June 14, 2006


Oh, I meant the U.S. Native Iraqis have very little reason to invest in the artificial, European-imposed "Iraqi" identity, when most of their needs are being fulfilled by tribal and sectarian primary loyalties. John Robb probably has the best commentary online on the reasons for that. The question is on what terms the U.S. extracts itself from that intractable mess of delayed postcolonial strife.
posted by jefgodesky at 2:50 PM on June 14, 2006


*Sunnis backed by Syria, I should say, but it wouldn't surprise me if Jordan has their hands in the power- and money-grab that is the Iraq occupation as well.
posted by bardic at 2:53 PM on June 14, 2006


the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for President in 2008, Hillary Clinton

It's only certain if Democrats make it certain. Every Dem who I've spoken with thinks she is a pariah for her support for crappy Republican policies.

In fact, I've yet to hear any Democrat come out and publically admit that he or she would vote for Hillary Clinton, to be honest.

The only folks who give her any attention, ironically, work at Fox News — and we're smart enough to know what that game is all about.
posted by Mr. Six at 2:59 PM on June 14, 2006


What Mr. Six said. Knowing someone who knows some of the Democratic power brokers (honestly!), the "Hillary is a shoe-in" meme is funny, because very few Dems actually like the idea of her having the nomination. However, she does have plenty of cash, and that speaks louder than most things. My own pet theory is that it's big bad Bill who wants the White House back more than she does, and that doesn't bode well.

The only way she could ever be elected would be if the Republicans manage to tar-and-feather McCain (I'm less and less convinced Giuliani is going to run) as a lefty homo-loving baby-killer during the primary. (And believe me, this is exactly the type of desperate campaign Frist, Santorum, and Brownback are going to run). And that's kind of a longshot, although not wholly inconceivable. For the few Dem rainmakers who really think Hillary is the best choice (all of whom worked in or for the previous Clinton administration), there are even more Republican string-pullers who really, really dislike McCain, because they think they can't control him. And I realize McCain carried Bush II's water in 2004 like a good little sycophant, but still--that's the perception. Expect the George Allen media blitz to start soon, because he's the Republican "Hillary"--the safe choice who doesn't energize the party so much as assuages any fear of an independently minded POTUS.

Go Russ!
posted by bardic at 3:12 PM on June 14, 2006


the "Hillary is a shoe-in" meme is funny, because very few Dems actually like the idea of her having the nomination

Hillary Clinton Booed at Liberal Conference.
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on June 14, 2006


Hillary Clinton is the XFL of presidential candidates-- well-funded hype, with hardly any public support.
posted by ibmcginty at 3:24 PM on June 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


only Republicans (and Shrum and Beinart and that type of DC Dem) want Hillary to be the nominee--the rest of us are going to ensure she's not. Edwards/Feingold 08! : >
posted by amberglow at 4:20 PM on June 14, 2006


I'm with you on the optimism amberglow (Feingold/Richardson would be my dream ticket though). But in a perfect world, Hillary just. wouldn't. run. And Bob Shrum would have to get a real job for once.
posted by bardic at 4:26 PM on June 14, 2006


well, God and we know we live in a horribly imperfect world, so we're stuck with Hillary running until she makes some horrible mistake, and/or gets swiftboated out of the race, and with someone like Feingold (my dream Pres) not being able to top a ticket. Richardson doesn't seem to have any fire in him, from what i've seen--he bores me. And we desperately need a conversation on class and the economy and how people are falling behind and out of the middle class daily--Edwards is already doing that.
posted by amberglow at 5:01 PM on June 14, 2006


And because it needs to be repeated, Congress has given themselves another raise.
posted by NationalKato at 5:21 PM on June 14, 2006


Boehner: ... they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, ...

Mehlman on TV last night: Afghanistan--a failed state
posted by amberglow at 5:42 PM on June 14, 2006


Why should I believe this is true? I wouldn't be surprised if it is true, but I actually find it amazing that here nor at think progress that a single person has provided any due diligence verifying the claim.

The Hill, The National Journal, The Financial Times are reporting it. I suspect [we] will see more "mainstream media" sources reporting on it, as well.


More from The National Journal. The Boston Globe and The Washington Post (among others in the MSM) report on Boehner's 'talking points' memo.
posted by ericb at 8:45 PM on June 14, 2006


from the WaPO: ...some Republicans have said it sets unrealistic goals. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), who supports the war, called the resolution "strategically nebulous and morally obtuse."
But the strongest misgivings may be practical. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) called the entire exercise "a dumb idea" that will highlight precisely the issue that is threatening Republican political fortunes.
"When the country is war-weary, when the violence is still playing out on TV, I don't know why we want to highlight all that," he said.
But Gilchrest, who won the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his Marine service in Vietnam in the 1960s, believes political considerations have already played too large a role in the debate. In November, after Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) announced his support for a rapid withdrawal from Iraq, Republican leaders hastily pushed a resolution to the House floor calling for immediate pull-out. But the cursory two-hour debate was noteworthy less for serious policy discourse than for the suggestion by the House's newest member, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), that Murtha, a decorated war veteran, was a coward.
"It was ludicrous," Gilchrest said. "It had nothing to do with saving lives. It had nothing to do with the war. It was one-upsmanship against the Democrats."
That sentiment spurred Gilchrest and four other Republicans to break with their leadership this spring and sign on to a Democratic petition pushing for debate. Boehner pledged to do so weeks ago.
But GOP leaders are trying to make sure today's debate is on Republican terms. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:21 AM on June 15, 2006


MattD: Withdrawal isn't happening.

Republicans don't support it, and neither do many of the most influential Democrats on Middle East policy, and neither does the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for President in 2008, Hillary Clinton.


Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Next Attack:
As of the summer of 2005, the public perception is that we have two broad options, neither very attractive. The first would be to deepen our commitment to securing the country, ensuring the safety of Iraqi citizens, restoring the country's economy, and creating and mentoring a professional bureaucracy capable of delivering government services. We would deploy more troops in order to seal and guard the country's borders and to force the necessary compromises on the different factions to establish stability and a working democracy. This way forward would entail years of anti-American violence, but if a successful Iraq emerged at the end of this bloody process, views of the United States just might be transformed as the altruism of our sacrifice became apparent. At that point, we would have a regional democratic ally and perhaps a rehabilitated relationship with the Muslim world.

The other course would resemble the one we are on. It would emphasize Iraqiization--that is, the rapid training and deployment of Iraqi security forces to maintain order; the formation of a predominantly Kurdish and Shiite military alliance against the Sunni rejectionists; the gradual drawdown of large U.S. military formations, first to cantonments to reduce their visibility and exposure to attack, and then out of the country, leaving a much smaller number of American troops in an advisory capacity.

The problem is that we have only the appearance of two options; the first one is no longer available to us. Ambassador James Dobbins, a retired diplomat known to colleagues as "our failed-state man" for his work in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, and now a leading analyst of America's role in Iraq, argues convincingly that we have lost the war for public opinion in Iraq--a judgment he makes on the basis of a range of polling data and wealth of reporting. He, like many other careful observers, questions the notion that deeper engagement will yield results. Moreover, the United States lacks the capacity to provide the forces necessary for this option. As a political matter, the risks of deeper involvement will likely make such a course unpalatable to a Republican Party facing midterm elections in 2006 and a general election two years after that.

The second option, therefore, is the only realistic one. We must accept the fact that a policy based on relatively rapid withdrawal is necessary to limit the damage we have already incurred. The question of pace is important. But there is a good chance that this course will carry its own penalties, especially because our departure will be trumpeted as a strategic defeat inflicted by jihadists on the American paper tiger. It will also be a tragedy for Iraq if, as seems likely, sectarian violence escalates as we draw down and Shiite and Kurdish militias begin the grisly task of destroying the Sunni resistance. While Iraq bleeds, the United States will be stigmatized throughout the Sunni world as a vile oppressor collaborating with a vengeful Shiite population. (Already, the prevailing view among Arabs is that the United States entered Iraq with the purpose of instigating a civil war as a way to weaken the umma and plunder Iraq's riches, another echo of bin Laden's argument.) The long-standing hostile U.S. policy towards Iran, however, ensures that we will get no benefit from this anti-Sunni alliance in Shiite public opinion. The bottom line is simply that perceptions of our aims and actions in Iraq will be difficult to reshape for the better and will likely get worse.
According to Benjamin and Simon, the Republicans are already withdrawing (the second option), while simultaneously attacking the Democrats for wanting to "cut and run."
posted by russilwvong at 9:27 AM on June 15, 2006


Collection of clips of Democratic House members calling Republicans on their partisan bullshit.
posted by bardic at 6:27 PM on June 15, 2006


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