Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The shadow cabinet speaks

David Adesnik at Oxblog was listening to Bill Richardson and Donna Brazile and, if I read him aright, didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.

Gov. RICHARDSON: I would redeploy those forces that we have in Iraq to the surrounding area to deal with real threats to America--the war on terrorism, our increasing lack of influence in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda...

SCHIEFFER: ...But are you saying that we just need to turn and get out of [Iraq]? Because won't that be taken as a sign of weakness, won't the terrorists think they have won, and won't that encourage them to strike someplace else?

Gov. RICHARDSON: No, what I would do, Bob, is early next year I believe we fix a date certain for the start of an American withdrawal because right now our policy is just not working. and the civil war is getting worse. What I would do is call a Mideast conference, a summit, of Muslim countries to help with training the Iraqi security forces along with us...

At this point, Adesnik expostulates "Call a conference! That's always the answer! Bring in all of those wonderful Muslim militaries, with their long record of respect for democracy and human rights, to help train Iraqi forces!" But Richardson isn't done yet.

Gov. RICHARDSON: ...I would stop outsourcing our foreign policy to the Europeans, to the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the UN Security Council. I believe if we talk directly to [Iran], but build an international consensus, international support--this is why the fraying of our relationship with the Europeans, with the allies, has been so costly is because we can't build a true international coalition that engages the third world also and surrounding countries to get Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons. Now, we have some time. We have five to 10 years before they develop a nuclear weapon. What we need to do, in that process, Bob, is use diplomacy, coercive diplomacy, potentially sanctions, special envoys, instead of talking about using military options.

Adesnik concludes "It's hard to disagree with a man if you can barely understand what's he's saying" -- and he's in Oxford.

Commentary

An idea kept nagging me during the whole week of the General's Revolt until David Adesnik's post brought it home. It's this: in a democratic society the most effective way to bring down a "failed policy" is for the opposition party to offer a better alternative. Because in the last analysis, nobody is going to put Generals Zinni, Clark, Batiste or Newman in the White House out of dissatisfaction with President Bush management of the War on Terror. They're not running for office but Hillary Clinton and maybe John Kerry will be. That inescapable fact means there is no substitute in the national security debate for a rational Democratic Party platform on defense. The alternative to President Bush's policies is not what General Batiste proposes but what the Democratic Party promises to implement. As long as it is what Governor Richardson and Donna Brazile say it is, then Donald Rumsfeld is assured of a job. Perhaps it would be more productive for President Bush's opponents to see if they can articulate something that makes sense.

43 Comments:

Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

"No, what I would do, Bob, is early next year I believe we fix a date certain for the start of an American withdrawal"


Didn't we go from 17 to 15 brigades early this year?

So if we fire Rumsfeld, then we can get a "Real" SecDef, who will do what Rumsfled was already doing, only slower.

4/18/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Amazing!

I'm just checking in after reading Fjordman's "Fall of France" at Gates of Vienna!

Required reading!

I'll have an MP3 of relevant ranting up in a few hours at Brain-Surgery With Spoons!

4/18/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Correction! Someone seems to have hacked my account at Blogspot, and I no longer have 2 accounts, Cash-N-Karridine.blogspot.com (still visible) and BrainSurgeryWithSpoons.blogspot.com (also visible, but not existent as a Blogspot account!)

Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

4/18/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Karridine,

I'm guessing it might have something to do with the cache on your local machine. Try opening up another type of browser (IE if you are using Firefox and vice versa) or clearing your cache.

4/18/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

I really used to wonder what those on the left would do after the collapse of Communism turned their socialist dreams so publicly to dust. I didn't imagine they would ever apologize, I just didn't know what way they would find to 'move on'.

I never imagined that 16 years later they would still be frozen, gagging in place. Still unable to adapt. Hardly able, as we see here, to string a coherent sentence together. But here we are. And the rest of us just go about our business (including arranging for the defense of our country and others) by going around them.

They are like victims of some awful Greek god's anger - turned in place into statues while gesturing furiously at opponents who no longer give them more than an occasional horrified glance as they pass by.

4/18/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Is Bill Richardson high?

He must be because the situation I see going with Iran is Russia and China obstinately refusing to cooperate with slapping Iran down on this. I see no amount of talking with Russia and China will change their minds on it.

I suppose Russia may be hoping for help with its Chechen situation, what's China's gain? Hope to get us in another war to distract us from Taiwan?

Of course, when something is done then the left will once again yak of acting unilaterally without Russia and China.

Iraq: The left wants multilateralism and eschews unilateralism.

North Korea: The left wants unilateralism and eschews multilateralism.

The Cliff: We run away from it so therefore the cliff madly dashes for it.

4/18/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Final Historian said...

My whole take on the actions of Democratic politicians has been this: What they are not interested in is "fixing the problem", ie. making better policy. Rather, they are interested in keeping things going as they are because people on the Left, incensed as they are, as sending money in as quick as they can. The Democrats care about the money, not about actually changing things. Ideas and attitudes displayed by Dem pols, like those mentioned above, are consistent with this. They speak so as to rile up the base, they rile up the base so as to keep the money flowing, and they use that money to stay in power, and perhaps get to a "higher" post.

4/18/2006 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

wretchard wrote:

"It's this: in a democratic society the most effective way to bring down a "failed policy" is for the opposition party to offer a better alternative."

I must respectfully disagree. While I agree that it would be better if parties (note the plural) offered comprehensive policy platforms clearly presented to the public for consideration it seems that emotive appeal and negative attacks on one's adversary has proven to be effective enough for the modern political party in the US to win. It has proven to be so effective that in the runup to an election specific policies are to be avoided like the plague.


one simple example is how policy wonk J. Kerry got swift boated.

4/18/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

Maybe the reason Bush is not really upset about Iran-yet, is because there are Three Reasons Not to Bomb Iran—Yet.

Good essay, but I don't agree with the timeline he thinks we have left.

I still think they (Iran) already have adapted some of the missing Ukranian nukes to their missiles. I also have nightmares about them taking some of those missing nukes and hiding them in some object and have already smuggled several into the U.S.

Where they are just waiting for the first bomb to fall on Iran.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

4/18/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Jeez, I remember lamenting recently that if only the modern Democratic party was more like the party of Lieberman, Richardson, or Harold Ford Jr.

Well, it's definately been winnowed down to two. (Until Ford Jr. says something stupid, of course.)


Oh, and marcus aurelius, to answer your first question:
No, he's not high...just oblivious.

4/18/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I've been coming across references to Ron Burkle in the Emirates Economist. And his front man turns out to be ...? In Dubai, huh? Small world.

4/18/2006 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

When Richardson says What I would do is call a Mideast conference, ... he is describing the 90's.

Give the former Administration credit, they courted Arafat as most favored "head of state" and frequent visitor to the White House.

That worked out spectaclarly. Though not a spectacle most of wish to endure again.

Surrendering 90% wasn't sufficient when we (Israel, America, Free World) tried it in the 90's, it just led to suicidal aggressive war by one side quoting their scripture. Threatened by more of the same, why would we expect surrender to be more helpful now?

These people can only believe there will be no war if we (USA) don't make war.

Peace will reign, if only we stop being so mean and selfish. Huh?

4/18/2006 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Clarification:

By "these people" - I refer to the new, fervent "anti-war movement" / political party -- that just popped up since 2001.

4/18/2006 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

The sad fact is that the "opposition" does not have to offer an intelligent alternative. They only have to offer a confusing patter of doubletalk that sounnds like something else less drastic can be done.

The same simulation of "logic" is even used to justify all sorts of bugdet actions in DC (e.g., "Page 2 of your report does not explain what the 'vaugue rubric' of this budget item is so we are cutting it" - the reality was that the explanation of the "rubric" was on page 3 - as required by Congressional format - and then the money went to build a solarium for a university in Alaska rather than a radar for Cape Canaveral).

Nothing is impossible for the man who does not have to do it himself - in fact he does not even have to explain what he wants. If you did not understand it - it's your own fault.

Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan was won years ago - before OIF. Some bearded nuts in caves in the hills have no more chance of defeating us there than the KKK did running off the Union.

4/18/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I'll take any bet a thousand-to-one, which party the enemy wants running our foreign policy.

4/18/2006 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Our victory in Afghanistan is decisive; I have never heard anything to the contrary. The political transformation was revolutionary, and in the right direction. But doesn't the Taliban and opium resurgence recently only therefore show the difficulty of fostering a democracy in that quasi-modern, tribe-based kind of society - and also expose, on two different cultural fronts, how urgently such a project is needed? The entirety of Central Asia is like this; this is not only about the Middle East. The East-Asian, Chinese-based societies have all figured out how to succeed; the Muslims have only rarely succeeded, and Jordan requires substantial outside help. If the Arabs themselves only rarely figured this out, and in radically different times, no one knows how to do this. At this point, to weaken figures like Rumsfeld is to risk the early abandonment of the entire strategic vision, and abandonment would earn even in my own eyes the right to avow the post-colonialist moral narrative. We would've destroyed their delicately, if brutally, achieved stability. But that could be a lot better, I'd imagine, than radically exploited chaos. We are morally committed to this, at this point. The victory of the Democratic Party on the wings of their kind of criticism could produce results like some kind of modern Manzikert. And the true impact of that battle was apparent only when they realized they intended to remain, immovably, on the territory that had been opened to them.

4/18/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Was just thinking where have I heard that name Bill Richardson?

Oh, that is right he is the rich Hispanic guy born in upscale Pasadena California (it borders the north end of Los Angeles) and is a big wheel in the DNC. I believe he was closely connected to J. F. Kerry's presidential bid.

With that, my eye's glazed over with the thought of partisan politics and the "Kerry flip-flop" speaking style.

Have to echo Final Historian and RWE's thoughts. I need not say what they have said better than I but, with the election coming up partisan double-talk is all the left has to offer at this time.

Btw wretchard, good catch on the Burkle/Dubai connection.

Democrat Bill Richardson's Bio (if "Richardson" is his actual sir name)

4/18/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Dateline August 2010,
Secretary of State Guillermo Lopez-Richardson continued negotiations with displaced anglo residents of the former western states of Arizona,New Mexico,California,Nevada,Texas,Utah,Colorado and Oklahoma.Mr.Lopez-Richardson insisted that demands on the part of Russia for the return of Oregon are only a bargaining chip.
In a related development,Vice President Dean stated that President Clinton's decision to wear a burkha was a matter of conscience and no way the result of the dictates of the Islamic Republic of Wahhabia.

4/18/2006 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

So Richardson wants to stop working with the Europeans and the UN? I'm surprised you didn't comment on that. How is he going to spin that when Kerry asks him to explain it? Or will that become the new baseline foreign policy for the Democrats?

4/18/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

pretty brutal, trangbang....

4/18/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060418/NEWS01/604180332/1002/NEWS

April 18, 2006


Local Rumsfeld foe answers questions



Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the Iraq war has quickly turned into a debate among ex-military leaders.

Seven retired generals — including one who lives in the Rochester area — last week called for President Bush to replace Rumsfeld, claiming he made mistakes and ignored advisers.

But others have come to Rumsfeld's defense, including Bush. On Monday, four other former generals defended Rumsfeld in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal and said it is inappropriate for current or former military leaders to criticize the war.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who led the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Iraq for more than a year before retiring last fall, is one of those calling for Rumsfeld's resignation.

Batiste, 53, has since bought a home in Brighton and become president of Klein Steel Service here.

Staff writer Joseph Spector sat down Monday afternoon with Batiste, who discussed the war, Rumsfeld and living in the Rochester area.

Aren't you concerned that criticism of the administration's handling of Iraq will affect the morale of troops and undercut the mission?

No. Let me tell you. We have the best military in the world. And I miss it. I love the military. You should know that I retired on principle. What I'm saying only energizes them because they know it's true. They're doing a phenomenal job in Iraq. We can all be so proud. ... Both operationally and tactically, we are winning the war over there. We're doing it on the backs of our great servicemen and women. Strategically, we've made one mistake after another. ... There is no doubt in my mind that we must finish what we've started in Iraq. And we can do it. We have the military to do it. All we need is the political will.

How would Rumsfeld resigning help in the overall goal of establishing stability in Iraq and defeating the terrorists? Wouldn't it show a sign of weakness to our opponents, including in Iran?

It's not a sign of weakness at all. It's a sign that our democracy is incredibly potent. One man doesn't make all that much difference. But we need a leader who we all trust, who has the right instincts, who doesn't repeatedly make big strategic mistakes. There will be future decisions, just as momentous, that we must get right.

Then what type of person should fill that office?

Secretary Rumsfeld is a man who leads by intimidation. He's contemptuous and he's dismissive. He does not know how to build teams. And I think in this great country of ours, we can find somebody who can fill that role. That's up to the president to find that person.

So what's a better strategy?

I'm not here to talk about strategy. That's up for those leaders to figure out. I haven't been in Iraq in a while, and I haven't read the intelligence. I'm not about to make any judgments there.

Why did you decline a promotion to lieutenant general and return to Iraq as the No. 2 U.S. military officer?

I needed to take a stand. If I was still in uniform, you and I wouldn't be sitting here having this discussion because I would be violating the uniform code of military justice and would be arrested.

Do your comments, and similar ones by other retired generals, represent the thoughts of active military leaders?

I absolutely speak for myself. But I can tell you that the feedback I've gotten is enormous. Many e-mails, many phone calls. Out of all of that, there's only been two that have been negative. This is a free country, people can say whatever they want. I strongly feel that I have a duty and a moral obligation to continue saying what I am. We need to hold our leaders accountable. That is so important.

Is there any significance to the timing of this criticism?

It's all circumstantial. I'm not talking to the other generals. I'm doing this by myself because I have a passion. I have nothing to gain from doing this. I'm not writing a book, I'm not running for office. I've been a Republican all my life.

[...]

(I've been waiting to hear that.)

4/18/2006 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Pretty funny, Trangbang.

4/18/2006 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"So what's a better strategy?

I'm not here to talk about strategy. That's up for those leaders to figure out. I haven't been in Iraq in a while, and I haven't read the intelligence. I'm not about to make any judgments there."

Why does it escape everyone that criticisms without alternatives is a hollow exercise? At his level, he can't offer one specific "strategic mistake"? He obviously must have several in mind, so? These people have spent lifetimes in the "world's greatest military" or diplomatic circles - is there nothing besides "no don't do that!" running through their heads?

Oh I forgot Murtha's "let's pull back to a remote perimeter and then watch them start to slaughter eachother, and then we can just split."

Offer a goddamn alternative already.

4/18/2006 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Relaying the reaction of administration, back here at home, to the generals' calls for Rumsfeld to be replaced - the reaction being largely that this is simply a political stunt - I was asked, "Are they really that insecure?"

They really are.

dan,

"(W)e need a leader who we all trust, who has the right instincts, who doesn't repeatedly make big strategic mistakes."

That's the alternative that is currently being sought.

As I said elsewhere, Rumsfeld believes, for now anyway, that continuing on at DoD is more important than the restoration of trust and confidence in the civilian leadership of the institution he serves. And this is truly about the lack of trust and confidence in his leadership.

4/18/2006 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Relaying the reaction of administration supporters...

4/18/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

If one crawls under the bed one won't make big strategic mistakes, save one. Is this the military platform of the Democrats?

How many current Democratic leaders would it take to defend the US? No one knows, it's never been tried.

4/18/2006 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Mebbe me stoopid, but me like Rummy. think he straight-shooter with vision and patriotism.

he step on beaucoup toes. me say, "mebbe if no stick toes out, no try trip Rummy, Rummy no step on toes."

see, him got "job description" him take beaucoup serious.

4/18/2006 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger pacific_waters said...

thou shall wuake before my diplomacy.

4/18/2006 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger pacific_waters said...

...quake...

4/18/2006 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Quick Observations:
1. Richardson has to keep his profile up. Every now and then he makes a national story. Remember his "miraculous" diplomatic skills during Clinton II.
2. Democrat proposals re: Iraq always sounds exactly like Bush's plan.
3. Trish sounds like part of the military coup against Rumsfeld. What the hell's the problem? Can't you people find some serious, specific charges against him or not? He's a "mean ol man" won't cut it. Now the President has said that Rumsfeld is "not going." So either get with the team or get off of it. Right back at cha!

4/19/2006 03:00:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Whit,
Richardson has also been publicly on both sides of the Immigration issue, making headlines in each case.
Somehow Medved buys his BS, but then he also buy's McCains!
Odd that such intelligent people can be total morons like that.
Being human, and all.

4/19/2006 03:47:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Bubba also made Hundreds of Millions last year advising Dubai.
I think Dole made a bundle, also.

...and UAE reportedly is giving $50 million to the oh-so-deserving "Palestinian Government."

4/19/2006 03:50:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

Let their fellow Arabs send them money. They've all pledged to take up the slack.

The Palestinian Authority so far as I can tell is looking at the loss of $1.2 to $1.5 billion from Europe, the US and Japan.

So $50 million from the UAE is like giving a buck to a bum on the corner.

4/19/2006 04:04:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"(W)e need a leader who we all trust, who has the right instincts, who doesn't repeatedly make big strategic mistakes."

This is hopefully vague and Democratic-sounding. Now, I voted for Gore. I do not say "Democratic-sounding" out of partisan affection. I do not doubt the Generals' sincerity - yet sincerity (and rank) is necessary, but not sufficient. Without something more concrete, this looks a lot like anxiety-fluff, albeit of a slightly higher grade.

4/19/2006 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

whit, 4:04 AM

While it is true that there will be no "government-to-government" transfers, both the State Department and Treasury are going to give or permit to be given hundreds of millions in "indirect" aid. This was made clear by State's official statement (7 Apr '06) and that of Treasury (14 Apr '06).

With no sarcasm intended, I don't think Hamas cares a whit by what name the funds are called. But the giving of aid of any sort to a terrorist kingdom by the US government is tantamount to the sponsorship of terrorism.

If the US government is no longer bound by the law outlawing support of Hamas, then it must free all those now in its custody, which used equally disingenuous indirect schemes to fund Hamas - may be beginning with Dr. Al-Arian.

4/19/2006 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

dan, 5:29 AM

Ralph Peters has a piece at New York Post Online which, while sympathetic to the generals, is enlightening, I think.

Rummy and the Generals

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/67207.htm

4/19/2006 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

That was an anti-Rumsfeld piece.

Why don't the generals call for more troops? For different tactics? For total withdrawal? Recite specific mistakes? Provide anything besides the entirely plausible notion that Rumsfeld is autocratic and fails to take the advice of his generals sometimes?

The idea that Rumsfeld is coming up with all these plans and then forcing the generals to execute them is, however, implausible, so until I hear more specific criticisms, with or without cogent alternatives proposed, then I'm inclined to continue in my private, virtually irrelevant support for Rumsfeld.

4/19/2006 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

Too bad about Gov. Richardson. I had high hopes for him. He even came clean about his baseball record--ostensibly getting ready for the Big Dance. You'd have to be crazy to endorse that sort of foreign policy.
Ralph Peters may be on to something today:
Even here in the United States, the past few decades have seen the triumph of the mediocre. Was Ronald Reagan our last visionary? Other than John McCain, is there a single galvanizing presidential possibility in either political party?

Has our gotcha culture driven greatness from the political stage, leaving it to the burrowing little souls? Is it to be an enduring American paradox that a country that facilitates internet porn and celebrates Oprah-style public confessions demands a private and public blandness in political leaders that eliminates the aptitude for greatness?

Have we entered the age of "little presidents?" Can America lead the world, if America is not led well? Make no mistake: This is not a Democratic or Republican problem. The self-interested corporatist leadership in Washington is a bipartisan problem.

4/19/2006 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger PD Quig said...

In the 7th grade we read a piece about "thinking" that was my first introduction to the idea that to criticize without offering alternatives is second class thinking. Since then every decent boss I've ever had reminded me of the same when I backslid into aimless complaint. At some point in your life you learn to vent to yourself or a loved one (sorry babe), and then suck it up and try to divine an alternative course of action and take steps to implement it. Alternatively, you assess the situation as not recoverable and move on.

The revolting generals have improved the military by having subtracted their second class thought processes from the greater entity.

4/19/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Expecting the opposition to come up with a better alternative to President Bush's foreign policy may be asking too much. This is because there little if any political dividend for constructive opposition.

Where does the money to run political campaigns come from? Either it comes from narrow economic interests or it comes from fanatics with deep pockets. Even if our politicians wanted to act constructively, how much latitude to they really have when most of their time is taken up with fundraising?

From my point of view, the problem with money in politics is not the amount of money, but the amount of time politicians spend raising it. This means less time spent on thinking, less statesmanship, and a narrow view of what is important for our country.

I think one can often find more statesmanship in student government than in the halls of power in Washington, DC. Many patriotic Americans who care about their country and would otherwise be excellent statesmen get turned off by the sheer beggary and frivolousness of our politics.

Domestically speaking, our "post-Cold War" era politics since 1992 resembles the division of the Jacksonian Era. The problem is less about who is in or out of power than it is about a class of political hacks who care deeply about acquiring the status of political power, yet are oblivious to the consequences of their exercise of power.

If the Democrats could have come up with a good and reasonable alternative to the policies of the Bush administration, they would already be in power. Yet, because of internal divisions, the Democrats can no more make cogent arguments about Iraq than the Democrats of 1860 could make any sense over the slavery issue. The main tactic among the Democrats seems to be to paper over their internal divisions and tacitly hope for a disaster that can be blamed on the Republicans, for this is the only hope the Democratic Party has of gaining power while remaining intact as a political party.

4/19/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger JP Phish said...

The complaining generals are coming at Rumsfeld from different angles, none of which are cause for replacing him. The explanation is at "Mist of Agnst"

4/19/2006 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger bpilch said...

I agree with Richardson, we should deploy some troops to neighboring areas like Iran and Syria

4/19/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger John Samford said...

When Richardson runs for President( '12 most likely, although '08 IS possible if Hill-de-beast falters), Remember he is the 'genius' (yes, snear quotes) who negoiated the treaty that allowed N. Korea to build nukes.
So anything he says about Foriegn policy should be taken with several grains of salt. A 40 kilo bag would do nicely.

4/20/2006 09:04:00 AM  

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