Sunday, November 25, 2007

Double Negative

Ordinarily I compose blog posts and then discuss them on the air. In this case, the cart must go before the horse. On the bright side, since I've already talked about it on Hard Starboard Radio, perhaps the written follow-up will be somewhat more abbreviated than it otherwise would have been.

Or perhaps not. Guess you'll have to keep reading and see.

Two posts of Admiral Ed this morning caught my eye for their garish contrast of how misprioritized the Democrats' national security views really are.

First case in point: they (or at least former Clintonoid "envoy" Richard Holbrooke) think our top foreign policy and military priority of this decade should have remained....the Balkans:
Recent American diplomacy led by Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and special envoy Frank Wisner, working closely with E.U. negotiator Wolfgang Ischinger, has largely succeeded in persuading most of our European allies to recognize Kosovo rapidly. But NATO has not yet faced the need to reinforce its presence in Kosovo.
Get that? Holbrooke thinks it's a big deal that our European allies have recognized the Islamist Kosovo Liberation Army's conquest of Kosovo, but the actual inhabitants of the Serbian province appear to be much less convinced - so he thinks we need to send in U.S. reinforcements to "persuade" them.
Nor has serious transatlantic discussion begun on Bosnia, even though Charles English, the American ambassador in Sarajevo, and Raffi Gregorian, the deputy high representative in Bosnia, have warned of the danger. "Bosnia's very survival could be determined in the next few months if not the next few weeks," Gregorian told Congress this month. Virtually no one paid any attention. ...
Um, perhaps that's because Bosnia doesn't matter; because we have no national interests at stake there, and have actual fish to fry elsewhere. Unless, like Holbrooke, you believe that perpetuating the fiction of Clintonoid "foreign policy successes" is a vital national interest.
When Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic was ousted in September 2000....
Note: more than a year after Bill Clinton tried to bomb Serbia back to the stone age, an act of appalling butchery which had NO effect upon Milosevic's eventual fall but did succeed in massacring over two thousand Serb civilians and maiming five thousand more.
....and a reformist government took over, the road seemed open to a reasonably rapid resolution of Kosovo's final status. But the new Bush team hated anything it had inherited from Bill Clinton - even (perhaps especially) his greatest successes - and made no effort to advance policy in Kosovo until 2005 and ignored Bosnia.
Gee, now what was going on between 2001 and 2005 that could possibly have pre-occupied the Bushies? Wait, wait, don't tell me, I've almost got it....
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld even sought to pull American troops out of the NATO command in Kosovo, which Secretary of State Colin Powell prevented. (However, the State Department did not prevent Rumsfeld from prematurely turning the NATO command in Bosnia over to a weak E.U. Force, a terrible mistake.)
How can multilateralism be a mistake? How can "working with our European allies" be a mistake? Gosh, if you didn't know better you'd get the crazy idea that the Balkans, where we have nothing at stake, matter more to the Dems (or at least Dick Holbrooke) than, oh, I dunno, say, the Middle East?

The "mistake," of course, was not leaving Bosnia and Kosovo to the EUnuchs in the first place. If they want to be treated as a "superpower," let them handle their own internal problems with their own military resources and leave us the hell out of it. Frankly, I don't know why Dubya didn't pull U.S. forces out of the Balkans within thirty minutes of taking office, and start paying reparations to the Serbs for the beastial attacks we inflicted on them.
By the time meaningful diplomatic efforts started in 2006, the reformist prime minister in Belgrade had been assassinated by ultranationalists. And Vladimir Putin decided to reenter the Balkans with a dramatic policy shift: No longer would Russia cooperate with Washington and Brussels in the search for a peaceful compromise, as it had in 1995 when Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin sat on the hillside at Hyde Park and reached a historic agreement to put Russian troops under NATO command. Today, Putin seeks to reassert Russia's role as a regional hegemon. He is not trying to start another Cold War, but he craves international respect, and the Balkans, neglected by a Bush Administration retreating from its European security responsibilities, are a tempting target.
The Russians were ALWAYS pro-Serb, actually. Recall that those Russian troops that were supposedly under NATO command almost got attacked by their over-eager U.S. commander, General Wesley "Ashley Wilkes" Clark, which might have ignited a needless war with Boris Yeltsin's Russian Federation. The reason those Russian troops almost collided with their supposed NATO "allies" is that they had landed where they did to lend aid to their fellow Slavs in Serbia.

Pro-Serb bias on the part of the Russians did not, in short, originate with Vladimir Putin, and ol' Vlady is, indeed, trying to start another Cold War; he simply lacks the means to pull it off. That has zip, zero, nada to do with "European security responsibilities" that the Bush Administration does not, in fact, have.

Interesting choice of words by Mr. Holbrooke, though, since "retreating" from national security responsibilities is what his party is all about wherever U.S. vital interests ARE in the balance - such as Iraq, for example - and where the turnaround of war's fortunes in favor of the good guys now has the Democrats in a conundrum they clearly did not anticipate:
As violence declines in Baghdad, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are undertaking a new and challenging balancing act on Iraq: acknowledging that success, trying to shift the focus to the lack of political progress there, and highlighting more domestic concerns like health care and the economy.

Advisers to Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama say that the candidates have watched security conditions improve after the troop escalation in Iraq and concluded that it would be folly not to acknowledge those gains. At the same time, they are arguing that American casualties are still too high, that a quick withdrawal is the only way to end the war and that the so-called surge in additional troops has not paid off in political progress in Iraq.

But the changing situation suggests for the first time that the politics of the war could shift in the general election next year, particularly if the gains continue. While the Democratic candidates are continuing to assail the war — a popular position with many of the party’s primary voters — they run the risk that Republicans will use those critiques to attack the party’s nominee in the election as defeatist and lacking faith in the American military.

If security continues to improve, President Bush could become less of a drag on his party, too, and Republicans may have an easier time zeroing in on other issues, such as how the Democrats have proposed raising taxes in difficult economic times.
A year ago the American electorate was finally sold by the Democrats on the notion that we had lost Iraq to the terrorists. Vice President Cheney had been right a year earlier that the "insurgency" was crushed; but that was before al Qaeda's attack on the Samarra mosque, which set off the next phase of the war, pitting Sunni and Shiite not primarily against Coalition forces, but against each other, with U.S. soldiers caught in the crossfire. Ironically, much the same sort of situation as exists in the Balkans with which libs like Dick Holbrooke are so insipidly obsessed. Small wonder that to many Americans, staying in Iraq didn't seem worth it anymore.

So, after its 2006 midterm drubbing, the White House and its diminished congressional forces did what the other side had been demanding for so long - in a manner of speaking. The President changed leadership at the top, ousting Don Rumsfeld as SecDef and bringing in General David Petraeus to take over the Iraqi theatre of operations. And he "changed direction in Iraq" by implementing the "Surge".

Of course, this was the opposite of the "changed direction" the Donks wanted. Most likely the main reason so many Dems voted to confirm General Petraeus was that they believed that sending MORE troops to Iraq would just accelerate the deterioration of conditions on the ground there and lay the PR foundation for a move toward a double impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney. A case of getting out of the way of a self-destructing foe.

But it hasn't turned out the way they hoped. The "Surge" has worked, as even this same New York Times was forced to admit four months ago. U.S. casualties are down, violence across the board in Iraq is down, and al Qaeda and Iran's proxy militias are getting the crap pounded out of them. Worst of all for the Dems, the realization of same has entered the public consciousness. And it has purchased the Bushies additional time to finish the job once and for all.

So, if the Democrat talking points cited above sound incoherent, it's because their stance on the war has become fundamentally untenable. Now that we're clearly winning, most Americans want to see the mission through. Dems can no longer be as openly defeatist as they have been over the course of this calendar year and remain competitive in the political "center". Yet they've invested so much time and effort into the anti-war cause that they can't just flip onto the pro-war bandwagon without completely discrediting themselves as hypocritical opportunists, to say nothing of incurring the unquenchable wrath of their traitorous base supporters.

This is an unbridgeable straddle, and therefore any attempt to bridge it sounds just as illogical as it, in fact, is. How else does one describe a "strategy" that amounts to a return to what we were doing before the "Surge"? Which, come to think of it, would put us back in the position we occupied a year ago - losing Iraq - which put the Democrats in the position they occupy now - the majority in Congress, and the White House inevitably falling into their laps a year from now.

Then they could take all those troops that have been wasting their time fighting the actual enemy in a part of the world that matters to U.S. national interests, and feed them into the crossfire in the Balkans and the Sudan, and any other irrelevant backwater they can find, while Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plan future nuclear 9/11's.

Will this gobbledygook be anywhere near as persuasive as it was in 2006? If the Grey Lady is having her doubts, and not bothering to conceal them, their party may be in for some tough rhetorical sledding that not even the Clinton Machine can put over.