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“Surrender Monkeys”

Now is panic time for the pro-war dead enders. They just can't believe that good old reliable Jim Baker would stab them in the back by suggesting that things have gone FUBAR in Iraq. Pandering to just that constituency, Mr. Murdoch's New York Post splashed Baker and Hamilton onto its front page and headlined them as "Surrender Monkeys." First time I have found myself heartily agreeing with Jim Baker who called the Post what it is, a rag. I've known some great hard-digging journos who have worked at the Post, mostly as metro reporters. What a horrible day for them. Now, on to more serious aspects of the war debate. I watched Thursday's Bush-Blair press conference from the perfect vantage point -- in bed. I was driven under covers several times, wincing at GW Bush's struggle to actually say something coherent. Mostly, I was embarrassed for Blair, who is clearly a much smarter guy. But I guess not that smart after all considering what class of ally he has chosen. I'm glad to see that the New York Times heard what I heard. Bush basically rejecting the two main points of the ISG report: no commitment to troop withdrawal and no acceptance of open-ended talks with Iran and Syria. If that holds, it means of the 79 recommendations put forward by Baker-Hamilton, the only one Bush will comply with is flossing after eating kebab. Bush is going to have to do something, of course. I think my old pal Bill Arkin makes the best prediction as to what is coming:
Here's how I see Iraq playing out in the short term: The president makes an announcement within a month about his "new" plan. Washington is ever so pleased with a new approach. But the a la carte plan is seen by the Iraqis for what it is; it is not a U.S. timetable for withdrawal. It is not an unequivocal pledge not to establish permanent bases. It is sovereignty and authority in name only for Iraq with continued American control behind the scenes. I can't see how any of this equivocation will deflate the insurgency or stem the hatred for America that is fueled by our presence. The "plan," in other words, is neither what the American people nor the Iraqi people want.
Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan takes my off-the-cuff notion from yesterday that the ISG report, in the end, was so ambiguous that it hardly mattered and filled in the details. Kaplan calls the report "an amorphous, equivocal grab bag" that offers no discernible course different than the status quo.
Its outline of a new "diplomatic offensive" is so disjointed that even a willing president would be left puzzled by what precisely to do, and George W. Bush seems far from willing. Its scheme for a new military strategy contains so many loopholes that a president could cite its language to justify doing anything (or nothing). Contrary to the leaks of the last several days, the report does not call for a pullback of American forces in Iraq. One and a half sentences in the executive summary seem to do that: "By the first quarter of 2008 … all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces."
Make sure you read the entire article. I have to say that two days after the fact I remain deeply pessimistic about how this is all going to play put. Bush, as we have noted before, seems particularly autistic in his response. And the Democrats, I wholly believe, have already punted and have become Jim Baker's mascots. Listening to Keith Olberman in the background as I worked last night, I think he came up with a great point. Paraphrasing closely, he said that the British reporters at the Bush-Blair press conferences asked tougher questions about the ISG report than the Democrats have. Indeed. The true outstanding exception to the Democrats stupidity on this is Senator Russ Feingold who issued a blistering statement on the ISG report. Read it. Meantime, a record number of American troops killed in one day. Eleven.

28 Responses to ““Surrender Monkeys””

  1. Bill Bradley Says:

    I think the purpose of the ISG is to temporize and start the big fadeout while avoiding looking like a surrender. It gives time for the Brits and others to talk with the Iranians and the Syrians as they have been and for the family retainers to talk the president off the ledge he’s climbed onto.

  2. Marc Cooper Says:

    I agree that is the intent of the ISG and hope it will play out that way. We both know it will INEVITABLY. The question is. what level of disaster do we have to reach before that big fadeout.

  3. Michael Balter Says:

    Names of the Dead

    Published: December 8, 2006

    The Department of Defense has identified 2,900 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the deaths of the following Americans yesterday:

    HAINES, Kenneth W., 25, Specialist, Army; Fulton, N.Y.; First Cavalry Division.

    HESS, Jordan W., 26, Specialist, Army; Marysville, Wash.; First Infantry Division.

    LOVE, Robert L. Jr., 28, Staff Sgt., Army; Meridian, Miss.; First Armored Division.

    MILLER, Marco L., 36, Specialist, Army; Longwood, Fla.; 20th Special Forces Group.

    RYNDYCH, Yevgeniy, 24, Sgt., Army; Brooklyn; Second Infantry Division.

  4. Michael Balter Says:

    I got the “awaiting moderation” tag when I posted the names of the dead this morning, so not sure if it came through. If not, I will post it again later.

  5. Kevin Says:

    New York Post? Surrender Monkeys? Without Irony? They’re dumber than I thought.

  6. Michael Balter Says:

    Bush’s intransigence in the face of even the nebulous recommendations of the Baker report should test the resolve of Democrats to end this war, as well as the mettle of the antiwar movement. What do you do when a president insists on staying the course in the face of a disaster that is costing lives every day and in the face of an ever growing consensus that he is wrong? We shall now see what the American people are made of, or not.

  7. Michael Balter Says:

    It’s still about oil in Iraq

    A centerpiece of the Iraq Study Group’s report is its advocacy for securing foreign companies’ long-term access to Iraqi oil fields.

    By Antonia Juhasz, ANTONIA JUHASZ is a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of “The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.”

    December 8, 2006

    WHILE THE Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.

    Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq’s importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: “It has the world’s second-largest known oil reserves.” The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq’s national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.

    The report makes visible to everyone the elephant in the room: that we are fighting, killing and dying in a war for oil. It states in plain language that the U.S. government should use every tool at its disposal to ensure that American oil interests and those of its corporations are met.

    It’s spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to “assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise” and to “encourage investment in Iraq’s oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies.” This recommendation would turn Iraq’s nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.

    This is an echo of calls made before and immediately after the invasion of Iraq.

    The U.S. State Department’s Oil and Energy Working Group, meeting between December 2002 and April 2003, also said that Iraq “should be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war.” Its preferred method of privatization was a form of oil contract called a production-sharing agreement. These agreements are preferred by the oil industry but rejected by all the top oil producers in the Middle East because they grant greater control and more profits to the companies than the governments. The Heritage Foundation also released a report in March 2003 calling for the full privatization of Iraq’s oil sector. One representative of the foundation, Edwin Meese III, is a member of the Iraq Study Group. Another, James J. Carafano, assisted in the study group’s work.

    For any degree of oil privatization to take place, and for it to apply to all the country’s oil fields, Iraq has to amend its constitution and pass a new national oil law. The constitution is ambiguous as to whether control over future revenues from as-yet-undeveloped oil fields should be shared among its provinces or held and distributed by the central government.

    This is a crucial issue, with trillions of dollars at stake, because only 17 of Iraq’s 80 known oil fields have been developed. Recommendation No. 26 of the Iraq Study Group calls for a review of the constitution to be “pursued on an urgent basis.” Recommendation No. 28 calls for putting control of Iraq’s oil revenues in the hands of the central government. Recommendation No. 63 also calls on the U.S. government to “provide technical assistance to the Iraqi government to prepare a draft oil law.”

    This last step is already underway. The Bush administration hired the consultancy firm BearingPoint more than a year ago to advise the Iraqi Oil Ministry on drafting and passing a new national oil law.

    Plans for this new law were first made public at a news conference in late 2004 in Washington. Flanked by State Department officials, Iraqi Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (who is now vice president) explained how this law would open Iraq’s oil industry to private foreign investment. This, in turn, would be “very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies.” The law would implement production-sharing agreements.

    Much to the deep frustration of the U.S. government and American oil companies, that law has still not been passed.

    In July, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced in Baghdad that oil executives told him that their companies would not enter Iraq without passage of the new oil law. Petroleum Economist magazine later reported that U.S. oil companies considered passage of the new oil law more important than increased security when deciding whether to go into business in Iraq.

    The Iraq Study Group report states that continuing military, political and economic support is contingent upon Iraq’s government meeting certain undefined “milestones.” It’s apparent that these milestones are embedded in the report itself.

    Further, the Iraq Study Group would commit U.S. troops to Iraq for several more years to, among other duties, provide security for Iraq’s oil infrastructure. Finally, the report unequivocally declares that the 79 total recommendations “are comprehensive and need to be implemented in a coordinated fashion. They should not be separated or carried out in isolation.”

    All told, the Iraq Study Group has simply made the case for extending the war until foreign oil companies — presumably American ones — have guaranteed legal access to all of Iraq’s oil fields and until they are assured the best legal and financial terms possible.

    We can thank the Iraq Study Group for making its case publicly. It is now our turn to decide if we wish to spill more blood for oil.

  8. Grumpy Old Man Says:

    Let’s see. If I understand Marc, the ISG Report is an incoherent, all-things-to-all-men document, but Bush is to be condemned for not following it.

    Historically, commissions like this, usually geriatric gathering-places, are designed (a) as political cover for unpopular decisions, like base closings and adjusting Social Security; or (b) as a means of burying issues that pose political problems for someone (9/11, Kennedy Assassination).

    This one’s a little bit of each. And its recommendations–a camel (a horse designed by a committee).

  9. Julia Says:

    Senator Feingold (D-Wisconsin) recently said he wouldn’t run for president but he still makes strong statements criticzing Bush’s Iraq War including the one Marc mentioned criticizing the ISG. See below his statement of Nov. 13. I think it’s important to note that Feingold as chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee wants to modify the recently passed military commissions act to restore habeus corpus. I hope he is quickly successful in his efforts.

    November 13, Feingold talked about the war in Iraq in Wisconsin.Feingold said that with the new Democratic majority in Congress, American troops should be brought home by mid-2007.

    “We’re going to have to bite the bullet. We just have to have a timetable and be flexible,” he told residents attending a listening session today.

    Feingold, who opposes the Iraq war, has been critical of the Bush administration policies, such as the Patriot Act and Military Commission Act.

    As the chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, he said he would work to undo parts of the military commissions law, reasoning that the bill eliminates habeas corpus, the right of prisoners to seek release through the courts.

  10. Lawnguylander Says:

    Here’s how the ISG report is significant. It’s a bipartisan document that depicts a situation on the ground in Iraq that is far worse than the president’s very recent public pronouncements. So much worse that eventual impeachment on pre and post war deceptions seems less far fetched to me today than it did last week. Even if that never happens and Bush serves out his term the grim assessment of state of things in Iraq that the ISG report provides will make it very difficult for anyone to claim in the future that we were winning in Iraq but were stabbed in the back by the left and the liberal media. It would have been nice if the ISG report got us much closer to a current day resolution but I wasn’t expecting it would anyway. So instead I’m grateful that it represents at least some kind of attempt at filling the leadership vacuum today and will be a bulwark against future revisionism on just went wrong in Iraq and who is responsible.

  11. Bill Bradley Says:

    Just wrote about a devastating new poll on Iraq. Record high, 70plus, disapproval for the Bush Iraq policy. 60% want a withdrawal in six months.

  12. Michael Balter Says:

    I don’t think Americans are going to sit around and watch their sons and daughters get killed day after day. I really don’t. Bush and co are really asking for a nationwide rebellion and I think they are going to get it.

  13. Michael Crosby Says:

    It is interesting to consider what exactly Congress will do with the ISG report and with the issue of funding and troop withdrawal generally. Certainly virtually all aspects of future action in and about Iraq are reflected in costs that must be funded. Even withdrawal of troops costs money. And on the House side much if not all of the bills will come thru John Murtha’s subcommittee, as I understand it.

    The ISG report is the political equivalent, perhaps, of a report on Iraq by the foreign policy committee of the “Gang of 14″ or whatever the Senators who negotiated around the judicial nominee filibuster a couple of years ago. Traditional Republicans and conservative Democrats. I think whoever is left of that Gang will be the core support for the ISG approach. That might be enough to attract significant further support.

    In the House, there has been no real equivalent, though it is possible that the border-Southern Dems who were elected recently will provide impetus to such a group.

    I would guess that, all else being equal, a resolution supporting withdrawal of combat troops by the end of 2007 would probably be supported by a majority in each chamber, but, perhaps would not if the Baker-Hamilton option were on the table.

    But if there is going to be an effort at achieving a consensus, it will be done in the Senate. And let’s face it, if there is going to be a true reversal of policy while Bush is commander-in-chief, it will only be the result of a consensus resolution either being passed by each chamber, or the imminent probability such a resolution would be passed.

    Btw, hasn’t Bush been looking pretty beaten and lost this past week? I guess it is pretty hard to see your decisions being criticized harshly–in terms you believed would only be applied by the cutters-and-runners–by Jim Baker, the guy who basically got you elected, and even Ed Meese. You get the sense he is stalling, expecting a sort of deus ex machina to come in and show him the way. After all, God has informed him that he is right and his critics are wrong.

  14. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Check this out:

    Apparantly the administration has decided not to count Iraqi deaths unless they can identify the perpetrator (not the individual but the sect). So if we can’t identify who threw the grenade, it’s best to assume that it was the result of a personal animosity, not the current civil war. And how serious an undercount can this result in?

    “The ISG report said that U.S. officials reported 93 attacks or significant acts of violence on one day in July. ‘Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light more than 1,100 acts of violence,’ it said. ”

    Oh good.

  15. bunkerbuster Says:

    Kudos, Marc, for the mention of Russ Feingold. Heroes are where you find them.

  16. Guevera Says:

    quit dissing autistics by equating them with W.

  17. Michael Turner Says:

    Lawnguylander gets it right: “… the grim assessment of state of things in Iraq that the ISG report provides will make it very difficult for anyone to claim in the future that we were winning in Iraq but were stabbed in the back by the left and the liberal media.”

    Indeed, this whole “liberal media” meme should bite the dust already. A recent study (reported on in the International Herald Tribune; haven’t found it on the web yet) showed that partisan skewing of terms (e.g., “private” vs. “personal” social security accounts) had nothing to do with who owned a newspaper, and everything to do with the political leanings of those in the paper’s regional market. In other words, a paper is as liberal or as conservative as readers want it to be–it’s purely market-driven. The LA Times might be considered part of the “liberal media”, but that’s because LA is pretty liberal; it has relatively low subscribership in not very liberal parts of the same region, such as Orange County.

    On one point, I find the report a bit weasely: its insistence that all 79 recommendations be carried out in a coordinated fashion. Since it’s highly unlikely that all 79 could be carried out, much less in a coordinated fashion, the ISG panel can always say, in the event of a total fiasco, that their recommendations weren’t taken to heart.

    As for the “blood for oil” argument, well ….
    POWELL: …We need stable regimes in this part of the world who will be partners and friends of ours, because the fact of the matter is we do rely on imported oil to fuel our economy and to fuel our nation.

    And, in Iraq, we had an unstable regime, a dictatorial regime that was ready to be pushed aside. President Bush was bold enough to push it aside because of their dallying in weapons of mass destruction and human rights abuses and terrorism. And now what we ought to do is put in place a stable, democratic nation that will provide oil to the world market.

    That’s not sending our troops overseas for oil. That’s sending our troops overseas to put in place a democratic nation rested on a foundation of openness and human rights that will be a friend and partner of the United States.

    Oh, and, uh … one that will have oil, too. Not like that WMD-dallyin’, human-rights-denyin’ North Korea, to which we end up *shipping* oil on occasion. But, hey, let’s not split hairs.

  18. publius Says:

    Philip Carter gets it and gives it pointblank to the Guzzi commission.

  19. Nell Says:

    Michael Balter: “Bush and co are really asking for a nationwide rebellion and I think they are going to get it. ”

    What will you be doing to promote it? Besides dismissing as ‘too little, too late’ national demonstration designed to demand an end to the occupation, as 60-72% of the American public want?

    “The antiwar movement” is all of us who want the war to end. If you think what existing organizations are doing is not enough, or not the right thing, then you should be organizing some actions more in line with your own views.

    (60% within next six months, 72% by end of 2008, AP/Ipsos)

  20. Michael Balter Says:

    “If you think what existing organizations are doing is not enough, or not the right thing, then you should be organizing some actions more in line with your own views.”

    No I shouldn’t. This is the typical response of anyone on the left when they are criticized and a typical way of dodging discussion. We need a united antiwar movement, not hundreds of different ones, and as someone who is part of the antiwar movement as Nell defines it above–a definition I agree with–then I have the perfect right to an opinion about what the strategy should be, in fact I am morally obliged to have an opinion about it. My opinion is that there is not enough sense of urgency, and again part of my evidence is Nell’s own statement on a previous thread that the January action was moved up from March when it was originally scheduled. If a majority of Americans now oppose the war, which is clearly true, what makes Nell and other antiwar organizers think that they need so much time to get it together other than that they have to get all the celebrity talking heads to look at their date books?

  21. richard locicero Says:

    Demos make the participants feel good but that is. Nixon, far more rational than Bush on foreign policy, ignored marches of Half a million over Vietnam. What makes anyone think that Bush would even notice? Hell he ignored Cindy Sheehan camped on his doorstep in Crawford and he gives every signal of ignoring Jim Baker’s attempt to send him a life line.

    I find myself in complete agreement with Balter and Bradley. I cannot believe that either party wants this to continue. Yesterday Sen Smith of Oregon threw in the towel. Note that he is running in 2008. I think everyone is on notice that we better be out by then or its their ass.

    And the longer the realization that this is a dead end eludes people like John McCain and Hillary Clinton, the less likely it is that either will set up shop in the Oval Office.

    To which I say “Thank God”. As Samuel Johnson said nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of a hanging. And the political class has to know that will happen if they don’t get us out.

    Maybe Low Dobbs has it right when he suggests thyat everyone reregister as an “Independent” to show their disgust with the dithering of the two parties.

  22. Nell Says:

    @Michael B:
    I live in a little town in western Virginia; I don’t organize the program at national demos, I just try to get a good turnout from my area.

    Big demos aren’t about celebrities; this one in particular should be the first since the UfPJ concert last September to have members of Congress as speakers (something Marc used as his argument for why UfPJ needed to quit working with ANSWER).

    Big demos are about getting a large enough group of people together to give the views of the majority of the American people the weight they should have. In this case, to demand that Congress respond to those views and not the Baker-Hamilton elite “centrism”. To put spine into Democrats, a familiar task of people who work for justice and peace.

    I’m certainly not advocating that nobody do anything between now and January 27.

    What should the national organizations that have been active in antiwar work call for and do?

    There was just a call-in to Congress this past Monday. Tame, to be sure.

    Should we be being called to sit in at the local Congressional offices? (which many of the incoming Dems don’t have fully set up yet).

    Hold candlelight vigils? It’s seasonal.

    It’s very possible probable that the 3000th U.S. servicemember will die in the next three weeks. In the fall of 2005, when the troop fatalities were approaching 2000, national networks encouraged events to mark the unhappy milestone, as well as Iraqi deaths.

    I’m just looking for constructive suggestions. You’re going to hold the whole population responsible (“We shall now see what the American people are made of, or not.”) yet it seems it’s not fair to ask what you would like to see happening.

  23. publius Says:

    Calling this an “occupation” is a far left canard. They’re trying to maintain peace after replacing the government supposedly approved by the people, thought not by all it seems. As we can see it won’t work with these people: Sunni, Shiite and whover else lives there. The army should just leave. Soon.

  24. Nell Says:

    The sit-ins at Congressional offices are already being planned.

    Voices for Creative Nonviolence [formerly Voices in the Wilderness] is organizing

    the Occupation Project, a campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience aimed at ending the U.S. war in and occupation of Iraq. The campaign will begin the first week of February 2007 with occupations at the offices of Representatives and Senators who refuse to pledge to vote against additional war funding.

  25. Nell Says:

    Michael, I hope you will offer some suggestions for actions you’d like to see between now and January 27.

    Getting a good turnout to a national demonstration does, in fact, take at least two months. You dismiss the logistical realities, but I encourage you to talk to people with experience in pulling these off.

    The only exceptions are when the participants’ lives are directly at stake and there is excellent media and institutional support (e.g., the immigration demos, and even then I believe the first big one was planned at least two months ahead).

    The original date, the fourth anniversary of the invasion, was chosen when it appeared unlikely that Democrats would retake both houses of Congress. Under that situation, it appeared hopeless to most people to get the administration to change course. Given that, there was a reason to pick a time when the media focus would be on Iraq and the weather more favorable than the dead of winter, and there were extra months to mobilize and fundraise.

    Once the election results were in, it was clear that the case could now be made that there was some hope for actual change, if massive numbers of Americans exerted pressure on the new Congress. So the demo was moved up two months.

    I wasn’t part of the decision-making, but I can guess why it wasn’t timed to coincide with the first or second weekend after the seating of the new Congress. 1) The holidays really do cut into the ability to mobilize. 2) The Dems have announced an agenda for the first 100 hours (i.e., the first two weeks) that doesn’t include withdrawal from Iraq. 3) The weekend before the UfPJ date will probably be the annual anti-abortion march (Roe v. Wade anniversary: 1/22).

    Democrats aren’t going to end the occupation without pressure from their constituents. I hope those who want to see the quickest possible exit from Iraq will encourage a variety of methods to make this pressure visible and felt by their representatives.

    Bush has announced he’ll make an Iraq speech on Monday, December 18, presumably his response to the Baker-Hamilton report. Marc’s post and our whole experience with GWB make clear that no significant changes will result. We who want troops out should be ready to produce visible, audible, palpable immediate response with letters to the editor, demos, and calls/visits/letters to members of Congress demanding that.

  26. Nell Says:

    Another action anyone can take now: get members of your community and your member of Congress and Senators to sign onto the Mandate for Peace:

    The people have spoken out through the 2006 mid-term election. By voting out pro-war candidates and changing control over Congress, we have repudiated war policies and issued a mandate for new policies that promote peace and international cooperation.

    More and more of us understand that the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq was based on lies, that it was unjustified and illegal, and that it has sullied our reputation around the world and made us less safe at home. For months now, polls have shown that a majority of Americans (including active duty troops in Iraq) want the US troops to come home. Several polls have shown that the vast majority of Iraqis also want all foreign occupation forces to leave their country.

    In order to restore the bonds of trust between the people–who want a swift end to the Iraq war–and our elected representatives–who have not represented the will of the majority with regards to Iraq–the peace-loving people of the United States issue the following call:

    We insist that the newly elected Congress, in its earliest days in office, pass legislation requiring the prompt removal of all US troops from Iraq and discontinue funding for military purposes in Iraq except the safe withdrawal of all U.S. forces.

    Additionally, Congress should:

    - Make real its existing stated commitment to no permanent US military bases in Iraq.
    - Support an Iraqi-led reconciliation process to shape a peaceful post-occupation transition.
    - Investigate and punish companies engaged in illegal war profiteering.
    - Commit significant funds to the reconstruction of Iraq, under the control and direction of Iraqis.
    - Provide funding for full benefits, adequate healthcare, and other support for returning servicemen and women.
    - Make every effort possible to ensure the peaceful resolution of conflicts with Iran and North Korea.

  27. Nell Says:

    Maybe this will spread across the country:

    The Episcopal bishop of the California diocese was arrested with many others in an antiwar sit-in at the SF Federal Building on December 7.

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