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Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Crying Wolf

Andy said:

It's sad in that it's to the point now that if anything good comes out of Iraq, people like yourself will automatically say it's "wishful thinking" and "junk."

Well, let's see. This is only the umpty-thirtieth time that some neocon cheerleader has breathlessly declared that we're finally winning in Iraq. Let's just start with the fact that none of these folks ever seem to bother with defining what constitutes winning.

Maybe winning means killing all the insurgents. Good luck with that one. It amounts to little more than shooting at prairie dogs. Kill one and five more pop up to take his place.

Or maybe winning means we control all the territory in Iraq. There's another fairy tale for you. We don't have enough people in our military to accomplish that. About the only way to do it would be, as has been suggested elsewhere, to export our 20 million illegal aliens to Iraq and give them a house and a year's wages. That would certainly be cheaper than what we're doing now, both in the war and in the welfare state, but I didn't see that in Mr. Peters' equation anywhere.

The more likely scenario in Peters' case is that winning means that suddenly democracy will break out in Iraq and everything will be sunshine and roses. He might as well wish for a magic winged horse to come and carry him away to paradise.

Finally, Peters uses so much conditional language in the article, it's hard to tell if he is actually reporting anything of substance.

This widespread offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq and other terrorists is part of a carefully developed, phased plan. The first step as the troop surge proceeded was to establish livable conditions in key neighborhoods of the capital.

That step was vital, but insufficient in itself. Terrorists fled, but they didn't disappear. They just sought refuge elsewhere. And while neighborhood pacification involved aggressive tactical actions, it ultimately put our forces in a defensive posture.

Give me a break, "vital, but insufficient in itself?" Could that be any more weasel-worded?

But wait, there's more:

First, it remains an open question whether we've got enough boots on the ground. While Petraeus and his team are using our forces with remarkable efficiency, there ain't no more to send.

Well hell's bells, that's a pretty freakin' big question, isn't it? I mean, if we run out of grunts, it's pretty much game over isn't it?

The second, enduring question is whether the Iraqis will finally knock off their squabbling and shoulder their share of the burden. Petraeus is giving us a lesson in skillful generalship, employing U.S. troops where he must, Iraqis where he can. But, in the end, we can't win this unless the Iraqis win it for themselves. Pious statements about "brave Iraqis" only get us so far: We're still only buying time - and no one can pretend that time isn't running out.

At least the guy is being honest here, but once again, that's a pretty big "if," don't you think? There is no evidence to suggest the Iraquis are any closer to self-defense than they were two years ago, so where's the good news in that?

Which brings us to the home front, where the war just might be lost, no matter what progress we make on the ground.

Bad news, guys, that front was lost two years ago. In fact, a strong argument could be made that the invasion of Iraq itself lost the "war on terror" on the home front. The periodic calls for us to all band together and win the war on the home front are becoming very trite. Joe average just isn't buying it any more.

Sorry, Andy, this is nothing but wishful cheerleading. There is a big difference between being an optimist and being gullible. I try to be the former and try never to be the latter.


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