Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Democrat Strategy Implications

This is the new political strategy the Democrats are going to use to wind down the War in Iraq.

I understand that in politics, if factions cannot get what they want by direct means, they elect to try indirect and partial means to accomplish their goals. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this, but indirect approaches are certainly more likely to be deceptive.

In this instance, the idea is to try and limit George Bush's options on what he can do militarily. If you are person who opposes the war, the idea of "limiting George Bush's options" probably sounds like a fairly neutral way to rein in a president you perceive as having too much power. But having power and having options are not the same thing. Limiting someone's options certainly limits their power, but it does many other things as well. It is a package deal or a dirty drug, dragging other consequences along with it. Limiting George Bush's options also limits our military's options in this case. Think about that for just a moment.

It would seem that in their eagerness to limit Bush's power, the Democrats are advocating a strategy that will limit our military's flexibility. I know it doesn't look that way to them at first, but that is the natural result of the tactic. Their target is Bush (or the administration, or the neocons, or whatever formulation you favor), but they are hitting other things besides. Dare I say that they are inflicting collateral damage on our military?

I don't see any way around this description. Complaining that George Bush has done terrible things X,Y,& Z does not erase that. It might make people feel emotionally justified if they can remind themselves how many awful things their political opposition has done, but it doesn't get around the basic fact: the Democrat plan will reduce the flexibility of the military. Reducing the flexibility will not only limit our ability to win - no loss to those who believe that victory is impossible anyway - it will limit our ability to keep both American soldiers and Iraqis safe.

The consequences of political plans are not always initially apparent. I am ready to believe that many Democrats and antiwar groups which are signing on to this plan did not intend to increase the danger to our troops. Today many people pointed out that this additional danger is indeed a consequence of this tactic. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

I have been repetitive in my claim that the Democrats are fighting a different battle, one focused on the political ground in the US. They believe that "taking this country back" (telling phrase) will go a long way toward solving our external problems. I disagree, but I can at least see the logic behind that approach. However, to fight that battle for the American political ground at the expense of our military safety is a significant step in the direction of sabotage. This is not merely an escalation in political infighting, it is a deterioration in loyalty.

Those who disagree, please take care to make a logical argument.


copithorne said...

You see 3100 American soldiers dead, tens of thousands maimed and wounded and our armed forces on the point of collapse -- not a problem for you. Stay the course. More of the same. Why change? It's working for you.

You see somebody may try to change the circumstances in order to reduce those casualties six months to a year from now -- and those efforts are indifferent to "military safety" to the point of disloyalty.

I can see that you are talking as though you believe you are making a logical argument. I can only witness that you are not. Your post is more meaningful as an expression of your attitude towards your unconscious self.

Jeff said...

Well that last comment was deep, went to the unconcious and everything. Wow. I don't think it was a logical argument though. I think it was more meaningful as an expression of capithorne's attitude towards his unconscious self.

Troops on the verge of collapse so instead of helping them out, abandon them. That will solve everything and our enemies will just go away. Right. What fairytail land are you living in?

Six months to a year from now enemies emboldened by our cowardice end up on our soil again. Thats better, great idea. You were probably a military strategist in another life.

I don't have an argument for you AVI only agreement. But I wish to push the discussion a step further, aren't the democrats close to if not outright commiting treason?

Mavis Beacon said...

The key isn't just a general limiting of options, but the specifics of what options are limited by a reigning in of presidential power. Some options, like imprisoning people indefinitly, I'd be very glad to see disappear. What you're implying is that some of the tactics the military needs to win in Iraq will be blocked by Democrats. First you need to identify those tactics and then you need to convince me that they will effectively stabilize Iraq. That's a tough road to hoe.

As an aside, you call the Democrats as a "faction." I would remind you that they are the majority party in the house and senate, and only the Republican fillibuster (it seems like only yesterday you were all clamoring to abolish that idiosyncratic nicety) prevents the majority party from really taking the control.

Jeff said...

First you need to identify those tactics and then you need to convince me that they will effectively stabilize Iraq. That's a tough road to hoe.

Funding is a tactic? Funding is just providing resourses. The only way to prove a tactic is effective is to use it. If it works you are brilliant if it doesn't you should have seen it coming all along and you are an misguided idiot. Such is the price of leadership.

Yes it is a tough road to hoe, and when things get tough you have one of two options, quit and face the potential consequences or stay the course and face the potential consequences. I have never seen a bully show mercy to a coward only disdain and this justifies punishing the coward even more in the mind of the bully.

I would rather stand against the bully win or lose than cower.

As far as the filibuster goes : I understand it is frstrating when the shoe is on the other foot, but a NONBINDING RESOLUTION? What is the point? If it is non binding then quit wasting everyones time. If ever a filibuster was apropriate this was the time.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Copithorne's continual refrain is that he cares more deeply about the world than I do. If soldiers died, then it must all have been wrong, so we should leave.

mavis, I used the term "faction" consciously thinking of Madison's words. I didn't intend to belittle, but to describe.

Murtha's plan is to reduce troop strength by forbidding the President from sending troops previously deployed for a specific length of time. But he won't submit legislation to reduce troop strength or cut off funding, because he know's that will look bad. So he tries to do the same thing in secret. Fewer troops = fewer options.

As to the Democratic majority - yes, I've heard rumor of that. In fact, I have heard little else from Democrats, some of whom seem determined to not even put up a show of bipartisanship. You can claim the Republicans did the same, as you hint with your comment about the filibuster. I deny it. The Republicans complained about filibusters by Democrats on issues where they had never been used before in the history of the Republic. Republicans made many gestures of bipartisanship on judges, committee structure, funding, and policy. I have seen none yet from the Democrats - same as when they had majorities from 1958-1994.

This suggests that the Democrats simply want it all their own way, and are willing to resort to underhanded means when they don't get it. I know that Democrats see that differently. What's the evidence for bipartisanship?

copithorne said...

There is no place where I say I care more about the world than you do. That is a view that persistently comes from within yourself and it would be good to explore why it does so. You feel guilty about something.

You make an argument that trying to limit the war, remove troops, reduce casualties is risking military safety and shows indifference to the welfare of the troops. Starting wars, and killing and maiming american soldiers is protecting military safety and demonstrates concern for the welfare of the troops.

This is the same up is downism by which you assert that war is peace and stealing from future generations is giving to future generations.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

copithorne: "You see 3100 American soldiers dead, tens of thousands maimed and wounded and our armed forces on the point of collapse -- not a problem for you."

copithorne: "There is no place where I say I care more about the world than you do."

Those two statements don't go together very well.

As to the guilt and the need to explore that, I wonder how you read my mind from afar. The people who make those claims were usually trained in New-agey, now outmoded therapies, but you haven't sounded especially like that in the past. It is a puzzle to me. I am content to let you dig yourself in as deeply as you like, though.

jeff said...

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
John Stuart Mill

copithorne said...

I'll note that AVI is arguing that Democrats are indifferent to military safety. Jeff is arguing that Democrats are overly concerned about military safety. You know that Democrats are to blame, but you haven't quite worked out what they are to blame for.

AVI You have argued for staying the course. You have your priorities that you value this war more than the lives of American soldiers while my priorities are that I value the lives of American soldiers more than I value this war. Me seeing this difference and noticing these facts does not involve a judgment that you care about the world less than I do. I don't know that and have no opinion on the matter.

I have a clue that you feel guilty because I can see you contending with feelings of blame and defending against blame. I know these feelings do not come from me, so I can share with you my observation that their origin is inside you.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Ooh, use of the "blame" motif is suggesting those 80's therapies again. Perhaps I have a clearer picture of your thinking now, copithorne.

Because you do not perceive the blame as coming from you is irrelevant. It is in your language. It may be borrowed from the culture around you or what you read, rather than developed independently by you, but it is there nonetheless.

There are two false equivalences here. You state that the lives of the soldiers matter to you, but you only mention the dead ones. That may seem automatic to you from your vantage point, but you might want to ask some actual soldiers (or read them over at Mudville) what they perceive to matter.

Secondly, you attempt a switch that says "the war" matters to me, as if it has some importance in itself, rather than as a means to an end. The goals of the war matter greatly to me. The war itself - well, we would all prefer something less deadly.

These false equivalences allow you to set up a sort of cartoon of what happens in the world. I'm not doing any mind reading here - I am using the words that you used. You get to frame it that soldier's lives matter to you, war matters to me. A comforting framing, perhaps, but not an accurate one.

I can only guess that you surround yourself with people who reinforce this political cartoon. Get out and encounter real people who see things another way. If you live in an area like Western Mass, Ann Arbor, or Berkeley where they are thin on the ground, you will simply have to make an extra effort.

copithorne said...

I can only assert that I have no opinion of how much you care about the world. I have no basis for knowing such a thing any more than I could have an opinion about your weight. You say that whether I blame you or not is irrelevant to your experience of feeling blamed. That could be a clue to you that your feelings of being blamed are something you carry with you on an ongoing basis. There's an important opportunity for you there. I understand that our relationship is not such that you would take up that opportunity for my sake.

I know you believe you have your reasons why the war is more important to you than the lives of your fellow citizens. I certainly welcome an account of those reasons. Over the past five years I find I only get an ever shifting kaleidescope of half baked excuses rather than solid, coherent reasons. But really what is going to be important to look at is not your intentions but the actual results.

Anonymous said...

Jeff is arguing that Democrats are overly concerned about military safety...

No I am not. I am saying that if they were concerned about the safety of the men and women that are already there, they would send back up.

Sorry if I was unclear.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

So other than saying that my reasons are incoherent, you have no comment to make about false equivalences.

I don't doubt you see yourself as sincere and rational, copithorne. I will guess, however, that you have these sorts of conversations - at least online and perhaps in real life as well - with others. What is simply the most obvious thing about you to anyone reading you seems opaque to you no matter how I present it.

It's quite simple really. If you do not wish to appear blaming, then reread your words to make sure that they don't contain statements that could be interpreted that way. If you find that you misspoke, then clarify. I wonder that you can be so sure that all the bad thoughts are coming from within me and not from your phrasing. When people are 100% sure of such things, copithorne, it is a bad sign. It is rather like the soldiers who are all out of step except for Our Jim.