Monday, November 20, 2006

A Monday Folly Assortment

The Washington Post has a sort of catch-all piece online, offering a remarkable compendium of various sorts of knavery. Let's start with Senator John McCain, the inspirational leader of ... well, someone, I guess:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a likely presidential contender, leveled one of his harshest assessments yet, saying U.S. troops are "fighting and dying for a failed policy." He renewed his call for more U.S. troops in Iraq and said it is immoral to keep them fighting at the current deployment levels.
The article, regrettably, does not give Senator McCain's estimate of the "deployment level" at which it would be morally acceptable to keep The Troops fighting. I'm not hard to get along with; I would agree with Sen. Straight Talk that such a level exists. I doubt, though, that I could get him to agree with me about what that level is: exactly zero.

Wait, though -- there's more:
On ABC's "This Week," McCain reiterated his argument that the United States faces a catastrophic setback in Iraq unless it deploys more troops to reduce sectarian violence and stabilize the country. "We have to have additional forces, or we will be playing whack-a-mole," he said.
Here, too, the story is frustratingly incomplete. It fails to tell us whether any of the "This Week" sages asked Mr. McCain to identify the classic arcade game we'd be playing with the requisite additional forces; we're left to guess. I'll guess "Death Race 2000," or maybe the unforgettable "Space Invaders."

And then there's Congressman Charles Rangel:
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) has long advocated returning to the draft, but his efforts drew little attention during the 12 years that House Democrats were in the minority. Starting in January, however, he will chair the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Yesterday he said "you bet your life" he will renew his drive for a draft.

"I will be introducing that bill as soon as we start the new session," Rangel said on CBS's "Face the Nation." He portrayed the draft, suspended since 1973, as a means of spreading military obligations more equitably and prompting political leaders to think twice before starting wars.
Now, there's a man who really has a way with words. "You bet your life?" No, not your life; more likely, some callow 19-to-26-year-old's life. Yes, yes, I know he doesn't really want the draft back; he just sees this as a way to make "political leaders" (i.e., presidents) "think twice" about optional foreign wars. Would I seem ungrateful to Rep. Rangel if I suggested that there are more straightforward ways to induce that second thought? You might try refusing to fund such a war, Congressman; after all, the purse strings are supposedly in your institutional hand. You might try removing war criminals from the offices that they infest. Oh, but that's just not practical, is it? No, much better to bust out the Ironic Gesture. Besides, remember that there's the Non-Military Alternative Slavery Service for the kids; Rep. Rangel may not actually want the military draft back, but I'll bet he's quite sincere about involuntary domestic servitude. The enthusiasm for slaveowning pops out in other quarters, too.

Finally, one of the New Bosses illustrates the deep commitment of the Democratic Party to the principles of peace:
And Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee, repeated yesterday his view that troop withdrawals must begin within four to six months.

The varying proposals underscored the extent to which key policymakers remain at odds two weeks after voters registered deep discontent over the war and restored Democrats to power in Congress.
I don't get this one either. American soldiers are either in Iraq to accomplish some particular task, or they are not. If not, complete and immediate withdrawal is an obvious imperative; there's no reason in the world why it should start later than this afternoon, or why it should take more than two weeks at the outside. If they are: the only "mission" which will definitely be accomplished by staying for six months is, well ... staying six months. What, Sen. Levin, do you say to the survivors of the numerous soldiers who are regrettably certain to be killed during your six months' "grace period?" What do you say to those who are merely maimed -- have their arms or legs blown off? The questions, I admit, are rhetorical -- we already know what he'll say. The content-free stuff of a thousand Memorial Day speeches, no doubt.

Here's hoping for bad dreams and indigestion for many of our public nuisances this week.


lemming said...

You and I have chatted some about this already, but I'd be all in favr of at least opening up a national discussion about the return of the draft. If men still have to register at the when they turn 18, what's the purpose? In order to accomplish the next set of goals in Iraq and Afganistan, more troops are needed, and the draft seems like one way of getting them. Since Angela Merkel has announced that German support will end after this tour, it looks more and more as though we'll be doing this on our own.

(lemming ducks, prepared to learn that registration was abolished ten years ago)

Bartleby said...

No need to duck -- I would love to learn that registration was abolished ten years ago! Regrettably, it is still very much in effect.

Personally, I don't care what is needed to accomplish the next set of goals in Afghanistan and Iraq (and Iran, and Lebanon, and Syria, and North Korea, et infinite cetera). What are these "goals" -- and whose are they? I mean, if we're talking about "Iraqi democracy" or some such chimera, what possible justification can there be for requiring an American to die to produce some particular political situation halfway around the world?

Jeff Pruitt said...

Let us not forget that Gen Abizaid already publicly told McCain that more troops was not only unsustainable, but also would not improve the situation. Of course this is the same General who said he wasn't advocating the status quo as well.

Could've left Vietnam in '68 but we stayed - what the hell did THAT get us? Do these people honestly believe that we aren't seeing history repeat itself? Get out now or two years from now - the only difference will be the number of dead Americans. That seems like a simple choice to me, but of course I don't live in some Rumfeld-topia where the civil war is really a struggle between the US and terrorists...

Bartleby said...

"Could've left Vietnam in '68 but we stayed ..."

True. Even better, we could've "just said no" back in '59 or whenever we first started putting in an advisor or two. Policy based on principle, rather than chess-playing with other people's lives, could be a good thing. Washington and Jefferson thought so ... but naaah, what did they know?

Craig said...

Oh well, maybe we'll do better in Iran.

(bad joke)

itsmecissy said...

As long as the Iraqi's we are currently training place loyalty to their "tribe" over loyalty to the current central gov't in power, training them is really an exercise in futility. All we appear to be doing is training them to fight their own civil war.
And btw, there was no plan beyond "Shock and Awe".

But once again, as the holiday season approaches, the Bushes will pose and smile and send out cards and entertain.

lemming said...

RYN: you are more than forgiven. 95% of the time I find Adam Sandler's humor anything but, but "The Turkey Song" is a moment of true scattological brilliance. Wish I'd thought of it first!