Response to Troop Increase Plan


Though I am not surprised to hear the news that 2/3 of Americans are opposed to the Bush “plan” to increase troops in Iraq, I’m somewhat surprised to hear about he GOP senators who were a little tough on Rice.

“I have to say, Madam Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam,” Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said of Bush’s plan to add 21,500 troops to secure Baghdad in concert with Iraqi forces. “If it’s carried out, I will resist it.”

Hagel is a longtime critic of Bush’s Iraq policy. More surprising was the grilling Rice took from Sen. John Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican facing re-election in 2008, and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who said she agreed with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that Great Britain’s announcement of troop withdrawals leaves the United States isolated in Iraq.

Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich, a former supporter of the president’s Iraq policy, told Rice he had “bought into (Bush’s) dream. And at this stage of the game, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

The committee’s former chairman, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., asked about press reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not ask for more U.S. troops — as the administration maintained Wednesday — but for more Iraqi control.

But, I think this may just be tough talk on their end to make it look like they’re finally with the rest of America on the Iraq issue. What I found most interesting was Rice’s response to Kerry’s questions about a “Plan B”:

KERRY: But what does it mean to say it’s not open-ended? What is the accountability measure here? Are you saying, if it’s not open-ended, that you’re prepared to terminate it? Do you agree that it’s not open-ended, first of all?

RICE: Of course, it is not open-ended.

KERRY: If it’s not open-ended, does that mean you’re prepared if they fail to pull out, to terminate? What is the accountability mechanism?

RICE: Senator, I think it’s best to leave the president’s words as the president’s words.

I do think that the accountability rests in two places. First of all, I think the Iraqis now know that if they don’t succeeding returning security to their population, then their population is not going to support them. And…

KERRY: And what are we going to do? That’s the big issue to the United States Congress.

RICE: … it’s a democratic process.

And, secondly, we will have an opportunity as this policy unfolds — it’s not going to happen overnight — as it unfolds to see whether or not, in fact, the Iraqis are living up to the assurances that they gave us.

KERRY: And what if they don’t?

RICE: Senator, I don’t think you go to plan B. You work with plan A.

KERRY: But that’s not a plan B. That’s a very critical issue.

RICE: You work with plan A and you give it the possibility of success, the best possibility of success.

Right…you just work with plan A only. Just keep working it like we’ve been workingplan A for all this time in Iraq and failing miserably. Haven’t they learned yet that things may not go according to plan, and given that, it would be a good idea to have a backup plan? It only emphasizes the weakness of this plan.


8 Responses to “Response to Troop Increase Plan”

  1. Hi Clair
    I was hoping you would explore Barbara Boxers callous handling of Condi, not to mention making a fool of herself once again, submitting the idea that anyone without a child in the military isn’t competent to conduct a war.

    Maybe you missed that.


  2. 2 clairblogience

    I wasn’t sure to what comments you were speaking of since you didn’t provide any evidence or specific examples. Usually, this means that you’re trumpeting something that’s been bouncing around the right-wing talking points grapevine. I see this happen all the time when the heat builds up on the Bush Administration as they do their best to deflect outrage. (Case in point: Clairblog wrote a post about the Bush Administration’s resistance to a “Plan B” and gets a response about how Boxer said something “outrageous”.)

    I’m assuming the you’re referring to these comments by Barbara Boxer (to Condi):

    BARBARA BOXER: “Now, the issue is who pays the price. Who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families.”

    You have to go a long way around the word mix machine to turn this into the quote that you gave me. It’s especially odd that that could be interpreted into your statement when it’s clear by that statement that Barbara Boxer doesn’t have any kids in the war either. It’s obviously an attempt by Boxer to explain their common ground: That neither of them can claim to understand who really pays the price for the war escalation.

    Is there another quote I’m not aware of?

    Joseph Hughes from TPMCafe gives a nice explanation/argument as to why this does not merit either “outrage” or apology:

    Before we get to the phony outrage, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what Boxer said. To me, it’s as plain as day. Boxer doesn’t have any skin in the game, so to speak, with regards to Iraq and the president’s escalation. Neither her children nor her grandchildren are of the age where service is a possibility. Rice doesn’t have any skin in the game, either, nor do so many who so breathlessly support this disastrous war. But the hawks sit back, in air conditioned offices, and move our young men and women around the globe, mere pawns on a chessboard. More to the point, they send them – as this president did Wednesday night – to their deaths. All the while, they know nothing of the sacrifices those serving and their families make in carrying out their misguided orders.

    This, of course, hasn’t occurred to the right wing, whose attacks have come at an unsurprising pace. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, in an editorial titled “Boxer’s low blow”, accused Boxer of “dragging the debate over Iraq about as low as it can go – attacking Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for being a childless woman.” Referring to Boxer’s “tasteless jibes”, the paper called on her to apologize. Missing the point, the editors wrote, “The junior senator from California apparently believes that an accomplished, seasoned diplomat, a renowned scholar and an adviser to two presidents like Condoleezza Rice is not fully qualified to make policy at the highest levels of the American government because she is a single, childless woman.” But they weren’t the only ones to miss the point – or lob insults Boxer’s way.

    A post at Little Green Footballs, in discussing Boxer’s comments, suggested “we’d better get ready for two years of political grandstanding, ugly personal attacks, and undercutting America’s security in time of war.” Blogger B.T. at Ankle Biting Pundits titled a post on Boxer “Barbara Boxer: Arrogant *itch”. At Wizbang, Kim Priestap said, “I can’t imagine anyone saying anything more reprehensible or cruel”, while sitemate Lorie Byrd asked, “Why is it that only liberal women who choose the feminist ideal lifestyle get any praise for it? Liberals evidently want to keep conservative women barefoot and pregnant.” In a National Review Online twofer, Kathryn Jean Lopez said that, for the Democrats, it’s “Attack the single black female Secretary of State because she is a single black female Secretary of State Week”, adding that “The word I’m thinking of [for Boxer] rhymes with witch.” Wrote Lopez, “When The View loses Rosie, Barbara Boxer ought to take her seat at the catty table.”

    Even White House mouthpiece Tony Snow piled on, saying, “I don’t know if she was intentionally that tacky, but I do think it’s outrageous.” He later added, “Great leap backward for feminism.” At NewsBusters, a site priding itself on its place in White House strategy, Warner Todd Huston wondered “Is this an acceptable criticism of a political official?” Calling it an “intemperate verbal assault,” Huston scanned “other MSN sources” to see how they covered “the outrageous comments of the unbalanced Boxer.” (It should be noted that before calling Boxer “unbalanced”, Huston asked “Is this the Democrat’s new era of niceness, their less rancorous way of governing?” Hmmm.) After coming up predictably empty, Huston then pointed to the New York Post article, saying they were the only outlet that “so far, seems willing to highlight Boxer’s unsuitable comportment as a Senator.”

    Apart from the utter hilarity of a litany of right wingers lecturing anyone on “unsuitable comportment“, or on “ugly personal attacks” and “acceptable criticism of an administration official“, or on the issue of feminism, note how each and every one of the above examples missed the point – and missed it wildly. It’s not about Rice, her gender, her childlessness, her personal life or even her race (as has motivated right-wing outrage before). It’s about those so quick to send our young men and women to their deaths – based on lies, remember – not having the perspective to account for the consequences of their action. It’s about those who tell military recruiters that service “isn’t for our kind of people.” It’s about right wingers who consider supporting the troops slapping one of their bumper stickers on your car. It’s about conservative pundits arguing that there are, in fact, things worth fighting and dying for … like keeping Nancy Pelosi from becoming Speaker of the House.

    Steve Gilliard is right when he says that “People have stopped being polite.” If a few Republicans had their delicate sensibilities offended by some words in a hearing, it A. Doesn’t say much for their worth in an actual combat situation and B. Doesn’t matter one damn bit. The time for politeness on a life-or-death issue like Iraq ended months before Mission Accomplished. People are dying, every day, and to tread lightly around the fact that this administration doesn’t know what it’s doing and doesn’t know what it’s talking about is intellectually and morally irresponsible. We shouldn’t have a Secretary of State who, when asked what the administration’s plan was if escalation fails, says, “It’s bad policy to speculate on what you’ll do if a plan fails when you’re trying to make a plan work.” Nor should we have a Secretary of Defense who tells lawmakers, “I would confess I’m no expert on Iraq” and that he was “no expert on military matters.”

    If we let some seemingly hurt feelings get in the way of serious incompetence and lack of perspective, we’ve failed as citizens and as a nation. The right wing, here, is reacting rather predictably, because that’s all they’ve got left. America has abandoned their wrongheaded ideology. What’s more, their opinion leaders flail about, still unable to come to grips with last November’s election. They lob insults, endlessly discuss non-issues and embarrass themselves by how out-of-touch they truly are. They gawk at the fender-bender without realizing they were the ones behind the wheel. Democrats like Boxer don’t owe anyone an apology. Republicans like Rice owe America some answers.

  3. No matter how low or how vicious the Republicans get; the Democrats get lower and more vicious. In that type of battle the Democrats are undefeated.

  4. 4 clairblogience

    You might want to read the post(s) above to witness who (Republicans) are actually taking the low road here. Because, if you bother to read any of it, you’ll see that the initial statement isn’t at all “vicious.” What’s “vicious” is pretending that someone said something they didn’t say and then using that as ammunition against them.

    Here’s a good hypothetical scenario:

    With all those poor troops trying to do the right thing and serve their country, it’s just a crying shame that Madmouser would accuse them of being vicious just because they’re Democrats. This is an outrage! How will their children feel when they come to school and hear their parents who are fighting overseas are turned into monsters simply because Madmouser didn’t think before speaking!

    Anyone can mince words. If you’re going to believe things like that, you should at least try to view the facts rather than spitting out what you heard on your favorite talk radio show today.

    I’ll give you a chance to provide some sort of argument, facts, or really anything vaguely interesting before I bother to respond any further to a baseless generalization.

  5. It occurs to me that “missing the point” of what Boxer said probably IS the point of the Republican response. If you have no good response–deflect. The strength and hysteria of the deflection is probably a measure of how desperate the administration and the Republicans who still support them are to keep rational debate out of the arena.

    On other matters–I really hope other people will join Kerry in pressing the question of what contingency plans the administration has–or even if it has any contingency plans at all. The administration keeps talking about “holding the Iraqi’s accountable” and “benchmarks”–that is, we are setting benchmarks for the Iraqi government. Never mind the arrogance of that (or the illogic–consider Rice’s comment “it’s a democratic process.” Huh? A foreign government telling you what to do is a democratic process?). What it means to hold someone accountable and to set benchmarks for that purpose is that there is some kind of defined consequence if they don’t meet the benchmark. No defined consequence–meaningless benchmark, no accountability. I don’t think the administration has a clue what they’re going to do if the benchmarks aren’t met, and I think this should be made evident to everyone. And the only way that’s going to happen is if they get asked about it at every opportunity.

    On the other hand, there’s the very real possibility that what this is all about is the ’08 elections and finding ways to get Republicans off the hook about the war by spreading the blame around to other people. And who better to blame it on than the Iraqis?

  6. 6 Hank

    Hi Claire,

    Now that the surge policy is working in a big way, what other anti-American policies are you anxious to proliferate??

    ps zero US troop deaths this week…I hope your not too depressed over this…

  7. 7 clairblog

    Hi Hank,

    Wow! It took 10 months from my post to get to a week without any US troop deaths. And while it’s true that numbers may be going down, we’ve had lower numbers of casualties BEFORE the surge. As reported by ABC News:

    As of Tuesday, the Pentagon reported 28 U.S. military deaths in October. That’s an average of about 1.2 deaths a day. The toll on U.S troops hasn’t been this low since March 2006, when 31 soldiers died an average of one death a day.

    As you might notice, March 2006 was before the surge. So, what’s the big victory in achieving one week without death when the average for the month of October still isn’t even at it’s lowest?

    Or, better yet, tell me what exactly is being accomplished at the moment and what your particular goals are in Iraq.

    As for anti-Americanism…let’s try to keep this at a real debate here. If you can come up with a real argument as to how wanting to save American lives in Iraq is not a pro-American stance, I’d love to here it. Also, some facts might help your argument.

    As of today, the death count of American soldiers in Iraq (not counting Afghanistan) stands at 3,838. That’s 865 more than died on 9/11.

  8. 8 clairblog

    By the way, according to the, there have been 5 coalition deaths since Monday. 2 have not been confirmed by the Department of Defense. So, your claim of “no deaths this week” is false.


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