In Iraq, we have to try

Posted on Wednesday 10 January 2007

It was difficult to listen to the president describe the coming troop “surge” in Iraq — to give his proposal a fair hearing — because there’s so much water under this bridge. And 20,000 troops hardly sounds like a surge; I’d put it more along the lines of a burp.

But I listened.

It was a lousy speech. There was nothing exciting, or hopeful, or uplifting there, but then again, what could one possibly say about Iraq at this point that would inspire?

Still… I listened.

I was angry with him when he talked about preventing Iraq from becoming a “safe base of operations” for al Qaeda; they weren’t operating there prior to our invasion. And when he mentioned “spreading liberty” throughout the Middle East as the best way to keep Americans safe, I almost turned off the television. That’s how we ended up where we are right now, as I recall.

We are where we are, though, and tuning out all the noise won’t change that reality. I listened all the way through and tried to keep the sound of my teeth grinding to a minimum.

It wasn’t until I listened to the Democratic rebuttal immediately after, though, that I came down off the fence — because what Senator Durbin described as the alternative struck me as both impossible, and unacceptable.

Contrary to the pipe dream Durbin described, the Iraqis are not going to suddenly wake up and smell the coffee if we “redeploy”; they’re going to slaughter one another out of hand. Thousands — tens of thousands — hundreds of thousands of innocent, ordinary people are at risk there. Families. Grandmothers. Children.

I hate the position we’ve been placed in, but I hate the alternatives worse.

We have to to try.

* * * * *

More: The Washington Post (and others) say that there’s nothing new here. That would be true – will be true, in fact — if Bush’s description of what the Iraqi government will deliver on their end doesn’t hold up.

However, there were a number of hugely important Iraqi points in tonight’s speech, and one that stood out was a commitment to distribute oil revenues throughout the provinces.

The fear by many Iraqis (specifically Sunnis) is that because they are a demographic minority, they will be cut out of the economic loop. Such a commitment from al Maliki is a big step toward reconciliation.

And: TMV co-blogger Marc Schulman brings out another of those important Iraqi points:

As far as I’m concerned, the most encouraging part of the President’s speech is that, with the agreement of the Maliki government, U.S. and Iraqi forces will conduct military operations in all — not just Sunni — neighborhoods.

Bush hit this several times, which indicated (to me) that al Sadr has overplayed his hand and is being marginalized. Here’s hopin…

7 Comments for 'In Iraq, we have to try'

    January 10, 2007 | 10:10 pm

    [...] (1)Our coblogger Michael Sticking’s live blogging on the speech HERE. (2)Our coblogger Polimom’s post on the speech HERE. [...]

    The Master
    January 11, 2007 | 12:38 am


    I listened to the speech too. I must have been dreaming, though when Dick Durbin came on to make the official Democratic party response. Did I doze off, or did he really say that the Democrats opposed adding more troops because it would allow the Iraqis to rely on the US to do their work for them? That we should demand that they step up and take ownership of all that must be done?

    Unless I’m dreaming that is the position taken by Donald Rumsfeld . . . . . you know, the guy the Democrats have been blaming for the whole Iraq mess (after Bush, that is).

    So, the official Democrat position is now to endorse the priorities and positions of Donald Rumsfeld? Looks like Bush Derrangement Syndrome has infected the entire Democratic leadership.

    It would be amusing, if it wasn’t so pathetic.

    January 11, 2007 | 2:14 am

    I have found an odd turn of events lately. There is a growing number of people who want to do something about the Darfur, Sudan problems going on. But some of the same people will tell you that we must leave Iraq to defend itself.

    Why do so many people see a genocide issue in Iraq as not our problem, but don’t mind finding other problems in the world for us to fix?

    January 11, 2007 | 2:16 am

    [...] The advance of freedom may be the calling of our time. But it looks somebody called the pharmacist. Your president is on drugs. No soaring rhetoric, no smirk. Little flourish or fire in the eyes. No real explanation for how the Iraqis are to be held accountable on their end. What’s Bush going to do? Leave before the job, the mission, is done? [...]

    January 11, 2007 | 5:32 am

    I spent last night watching “Top Chef” reruns – sooo much less stressful for me, and I probably got most of the flavor of the speech/counter-speech anyway (just with a few more [BLEEP]-worthy words.)

    I figure, what the heck – as a good hard-core neocon, I’ll just wait until later today, hear what Rush and FOX News have to say, and then use their talking points as the basis for my marching orders.

    Oh, and I have the perfect solution: let’s send the esteemed Mr. Baker from almost-Katy over to Iraq to organize some Friday Night Pig Races. A perfect win-win: Katy gets rid of a major embarassment, and the Iraqis finally have an ‘enemy’ that could unite them.


    January 11, 2007 | 7:31 am

    [...] That’s true… but I don’t think Americans want the outcome of withdrawal, either, and that was the basis of my post late last night. As often happens, though, sleep gave my thoughts time to fall more fully into place, and this morning I found myself questioning this assumption of what it is we do want… or at least, what I want. [...]

    July 14, 2008 | 4:12 pm

    [...] Yet even though I’d opposed the Iraq war vehemently and vociferously in 2002/3, I argued in favor of the surge — because it offered a hope, however slim, of heading off a complete meltdown. I took a lot of heat for saying we should try; that I was naive to “hope”; that it was too long a shot (and it was indeed a long-shot) … but folks, the situation today is vastly improved from late 2006 / early 2007. [...]

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