Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fly Now, Pay Later

The Democrats stand to reap from their withdrawal strategy in Iraq. The bad news is they will reap what they sow. Lee Smith writes in the Weekly Standard that the Democrat withdrawal strategy in Iraq will backfire on their pet policy initiative to use Syria as the keystone to peace in the Middle East.

Is there any real hope of a comprehensive deal with Syria? Of course not. If a stable Iraq and Lebanon were in Damascus's "best interests," then the regime wouldn't have been working so hard to destabilize its two neighbors for the last several years. ...

The one thing Damascus has going for it is that it is the ideal entry point to attack the Bush administration's policies in the region. The cynical and/or obtuse rationale for engaging the regime--that Syria holds the keys to Iraq, Lebanon, the peace process, and bringing Iran to heel--has now been enshrined in the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report. It is now not only legitimate, it is part of the Democrats' foreign policy, for no sooner had Pelosi returned from Damascus than the Clintons started prepping their 2008 credentials with a shout-out to Syria. ... In Damascus they will find a negotiating partner who has been waiting several years now to sit at the table with the Americans, to look them in the face and talk nice, while they are helping to kill U.S. servicemen in Iraq.

The heart of Lee Smith's argument is that the possible price of gaining control of the nation is that that it will be a diminshed nation. By granting Iran and Syria a geopolitical victory now, a Democrat in the White House will have that much hard a time bringing them to heel later.

The it's possible to maximize private gain at the expense of group interest in certain situations; possible to gain a larger absolute slice of pie even if it means shrinking the total pie, provided you get most of it. Of course, the calculation might be that once in power, and armed with their genius, the losses to the entire pie can be speedily recovered -- a process analogous to going into debt in the belief you will recoup it. Investing in yourself.

That's all well and good if it works out. But the problem is if it doesn't work. Coincidentally enough, Fred Thompson uses the word "investment" in a very strange context, and I'm a little disappointed that he wasn't asked why he chose that very word. What Lee Smith says is it might be a losing proposition.

Amazingly enough, Ted Koppel speaking at NPR agrees that kicking the grenade down the road only means you get to pick it up when the fuse is shorter. Follow the link and click the audio button and this is what Koppel says:

"The Democrats especially their Presidential candidates could be painting themselves into a corner. ... What are they going to do if they win the White House and the bulk of American forces are still in Iraq? ... there is first of all the very real danger that Iraq's civil war will spill over into the rest of the Persian Gulf, interrupting the flow of oil and natural gas. If anything is going to have a disastrous impact on the US economy, that would. ... If the President [Bush] withdraws the bulk or even all of US forces what happens next can be placed directly at his feet."

He then goes on to argue that the Democrats will be faced with same choice. Keep Iraq and validate the Bush policy or withdraw and risk a regional catastrophe. So there you have it, an intelligent man like Koppel knows what's at the stake and the Democrats do too. But the lure of office may blind them to that danger. Fly now, pay later.


Blogger allen said...

Syria - Lebanon - Hezbollah

Another Israeli war “with” Lebanon this summer is seen as inevitable by many familiar with the region. If this is the case, Syria may not fare so well this round, particularly if Mr. Olmert is forced out of office.

It is one thing to bet on a weak horse, but quite another to bet on a dead one.

5/02/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I guess people have to learn the hard way that it doesn't pay to hand over the knife to your enemy in a fight. That there's no percentage in playing to lose and hoping to come out smelling of roses. The hard political times Olmert has been going through came from Israeli setbacks. Nothing teaches as well as defeat.

The reason people can be so cavalier about surrender to the enemy is that they have been safe and comfortable for so long they cannot believe anything they do can endanger their gilded world. Like the Titanic, it is full speed ahead. Not even God can sink this ship, with its lights, its dancing and towering pride. Of course, people do learn when the crisis comes. Our task is to make sure that enough people learn before the crisis comes. That small cohort may make the difference.

5/02/2007 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

My problem with what Thompson said was that he seemed to think that the Democrats' painting with the palette of all the colors of surrender will diminish them and that was good enough. I have two problems with that.

First, I don't want the Democrats diminished any more. They are already diminished enough and it hasn't hurt their popularity. Instead, they have just brought down everybody's popularity by convincing the US populace that war is just too hard for us and that our soldiers in Iraq are sitting ducks like so many sacrificial lambs. We don't need a diminished Democrat party, we need a stronger and more assertive one like the one that JFK or Harry Truman or FDR led.

Second, even if the Democrats should become radioactive after advocating surrender without being militarily defeated in even one battle of the war, I don't know that they will. Republicans have utterly lacked the stones to punish Democrats for their own multitude of sins. Instead, the Republicans tried to be kinder, gentler, more bipartisan, while the Democrats pay lipservice to the bipartisan spirit and privately work to pick America's pocket for the good of the tribes in the Democrat alliance. And even if the slow bleed strategy hurts the Democrats, will it damage them fast enough to keep them from taking all three branches of government in 2008, or will we have to suffer from two or three more 9/11s, this time involving Iranian and Pakistani nukes, before a Democrat-led government wakes up?

I fear that the Golden Hour of the 3 Conjectures is running late. If America flees from Iraq, and then inevitably from Afghanistan, we may never get this chance again. Isn't that worth some bare knuckle political infighting from the Republicans instead of the passive-aggressive above-the-fray moralizing we get from Fred Thompson?

5/02/2007 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

"Do these liberation-parties think that they can succeed in a project which has been attempted a million times in the history of the world and has never in one single instance been successful -- the "modification" of a despotism by other means than bloodshed?"
___Mark Twain
The Czar's Soliloquy

5/02/2007 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

it's the kumbaya test...

can you see syria, pakistan, hamas, hezbollah, force 17, fatah, iran, saudia arabia, moslem brotherhood, egypt, iraq accepting Jews as equal people with total equal rights as arabs both inside israel and INSIDE the islamic and arab world?

if not these people will attack again, it is not a question of if, but when..

then the stupid dem's or whom ever is saying "talk talk talk" to the enemy will bomb bomb bomb..

war is coming, whether the dem think they can run and hide or not...

the orcs are ready for war... sauron is in his powerful tower plotting war and building new fire machines...

I a man of the east speak with clarity...

sharpen the swords...

fortify the walls...

the black hoards are coming...

5/02/2007 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

Information warfare-

Among the strategists referenced in this article, the Saudi al-Muqrin most thoroughly discussed the essential interconnectedness of the military and media dimensions of insurgency. Muqrin argued that the military and media campaigns must be accelerated simultaneously. While al-Qaeda's military doctrine required that the mujahideen wage war in all areas of Afghanistan and Iraq, this widespread activity was no less essential from the perspective of influencing the Muslim and Western worlds.

The US military, the last bastion of creditability in the war, is now the primary target of the media and the enemies of the war.

Murtha says Petraeus is a political hack

It’s a Golden Age of media—but not for long, if the Left has its way

"I believe we need to re-regulate the media," says Howard Dean.

5/02/2007 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

Wretchard- you say 'Lee Harris' several times, which piqued my interest, but it seems that you mean to refer to Lee Smith. Is that right?

5/02/2007 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger K. Pablo said...

Brilliant quote, Allen.

5/02/2007 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Wretchard- you say 'Lee Harris' several times, which piqued my interest, but it seems that you mean to refer to Lee Smith. Is that right?

Fixed. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

5/02/2007 07:29:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

k. pablo,

re: quote

I wish it were mine.

Spengler has recently covered my frailty, recalling Bloom.
Why you pretend to like modern art


5/02/2007 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

Another problem will be reigning in the military the next time a Democrat is President. Bill Clinton had some problems, and I can't imagine that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama wouldn't, especially if the military feels that it lost the war because of the Democratic party.

The US military has enormous prestige now, and that is going to be used at some point. When you look at the political composition of the volunteer active force, it's overwhelmingly Republican (over 70% of the soldiers who voted in 2004 voted for Bush.) That's potentially a problem for a future Democratic administration.

I don't want a politicized military. I want an obedient one. But it must be frustrating to be sent into a war, lose because of politicians back home, and then have to follow their orders. This dynamic is dangerous.

5/02/2007 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Ignorance is dangerous. The "dynamic" you suggest does not exist. Ignorance of military culture underlies your fear. Military people are driven by Duty, Honor and Country, not something so base as politics.

Further, you might consider that military people went 70% for GWB because they felt he respects them and understands the solemnity of his duty in spending their lives, literally, as Commander in Chief.

Have you any concern about the fact that 90% of Big Media voted Democratic and the dangerous dynamic that presents?

5/02/2007 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


Re: Media Target: US Military

Some months ago, I examined a popularity survey of various US public institutions. None were even close to having the approval ratings of the military. One might even say of the military that it is the last trustworthy institution of American government. While not a major worry, the popularity figures had fallen slightly from the previous period; not enough to generate panic, but just enough to cause concern for the possibility of a downward trend.

As you are aware, for sometime now, I have attempted to defend the integrity of the military justice system from the uncoordinated depredations of those who would have us believe that a sizeable group of Marines is being cruelly incarcerated and maliciously prosecuted for the sake of political expediency. To believe this, of necessity one would have to also believe in a vast, inseparably linked chain of conspirators, including members from DoD, Navy, USMC, JAF, and IG, flowing neatly downward through a host of command structures before terminating at the platoon level.

Without having rationally thought through the matter, the conspiracy theorists must accept the existence of an unlawful cabal, peopled by hundreds of monomaniacally obsessed automatons, working flawlessly together with the sole purpose of scapegoating the Haditha Marines as the matter of political correctness. That these faceless automatons are the hundreds of officers and NCOs needed to move the prosecutors’ cases through the labyrinthine departments necessitated by capital trials of this magnitude never catches the attention of the theorists.

To believe these things is nothing short of insane.

So, yes, “the fact is that they are actively trying to discredit the US Military.”, that being the arch's keystone.

5/02/2007 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

The Media as an
Instrument of War

5/02/2007 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

How are the Haditha Article 32 hearings going? What is the latest news there?

5/02/2007 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

I'm not ignorant. I served 1992-96. The military did everything it could to defy the President on gays- Colin Powell just wouldn't obey orders. "Don't ask, don't tell," was a compromise. That's a pretty minor issue and the military didn't accept what the commander in chief told them.

The media doesn't have guns. There are no countries that are 'media dictatorships.' I don't really think that there is going to be a coup, but I do think that it will be harder for a Democratic president to get the military to cooperate. Think of the trouble that the current President has with the State Department. An unruly military is not a good thing.

I wish that we'd not put so much faith in the military to solve our problems. It really shouldn't be the only institution that everyone trsusts. That's not good. That's a criticism of the rest of the government rather than the military.

5/02/2007 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

I got out of the Corps at the end of 1981, at the end of the peanuts administration. At the time the congress decreed that an honorable discharge was a voluntary quit on the second enlistment, granting no benefits in terms of unemployment or assistance in finding employment. The reason was mid echelon flight. I personally didn't knock out any 2nd Lieutenants but I know that a less than honorable discharge accrued all rights under the GI bill. And 6 mos. later the discharge was upgraded if the individual kept his nose clean.

Having been sabotaged twice by the same party and having been forced to listen to the reports of the boat people and the killing fields since the last bout of cowardice, does anyone think that there won't be damage to the military?

5/03/2007 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

The media controls perception and information. No bullets needed. Look at what the Nazis did to the Jews during the 1930's without bullets.

A more current example: Are you aware of what has happened in the cases of the Haditha Marines who have been convicted in the media and by Rep. Murtha? It's pretty big (and is linked elsewhere on this blog), but it doesn't fit the Media's meme...and it isn't consistent with your desire to take the military down a few pegs.

I'll not rehash my position on the Klintoons' "Don't Ask...." con. I've done that here before several times. That was pure "energize the base/thank the contributors" stuff.

5/03/2007 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger ouestmaman said...

wretchard,a question about a comment at 06:19:00pm 05/02/2007;

"Of course, people do learn when the crisis comes. Our task is to make sure that enough people learn before the crisis comes."

We are learning, and speedily, thanks to the generosity of all who contribute at the Belmont Club. (Some of us face a very steep learning curve.)

To the question , who is/are "our" in the quote above?

And also, would there be a "suggested reading list" that might further our understanding of the way things are, the coming crisis? Thank you.

5/03/2007 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

ouest, look at the bottom of this post.

5/03/2007 11:53:00 AM  

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