Debate Open Thread

Have at it.

“Nato Is Not Winning In Afghanistan”

Accepting the Republican nomination for president, George Bush famously declared:

“Our military is low on parts, pay and morale.

If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report: Not ready for duty, sir.”

It was a lie of course. He told worse.

But, BUT!, Bush fans will argue, the president doesn’t lie, and if he does Michael Moore is fat. Fair enough. If we can’t call it a lie then the next best description would have to be self-fulfilling prophesy. Thanks to the surge plan the military doesn’t have any flexibility left in case things get worse, say, in Afghanistan. But no worries, I heard that things were going swimmingly over there.

Via Cernig, a few reports suggest that might not entirely be the case. From the Atlantic Council, where James Joyner spends his daylight hours:

The US Atlantic Council began its report with the words: “Nato is not winning in Afghanistan” and talks of a stalemate.

“Without urgent changes Afghanistan could become a failed or failing state,” it said.

“If Afghanistan fails, the possible strategic consequences will worsen regional instability, do great harm to the fight against Jihadist and religious extremism, and put in grave jeopardy Nato’s future as a credible, cohesive and relevant military alliance.”

The American Afghanistan Study Group [sponsored by the Atlantic Council and headed by Gen. Jones – C] reached a similarly grim conclusion in a report released on Wednesday.

It said that “resurgent violence, weakening international resolve, too few military forces and insufficient economic aid” were all contributing to the country’s woes.

Unless Joyner hangs out with defeatocrats all day, I take this to mean that we might yet lose Afghanistan.

On Diane Rehm’s show this monday Gen. John Craddock, NATO’s supreme commander for Europe, argued that we didn’t literally pull any troops out of Afghanistan to send to Iraq. Setting aside cases where he is flat wrong, Craddock would still be right only in the most superficial and meaningless sense. You don’t have to pull troops straight out of Afghanistan to shortchange the conflict. One can also drain the available pool of replacement troops and let commanders know – as we have done – that asking for more would be an unwise career move. It just isn’t debatable that divisions upon divisions could be repairing Afghanistan right now if they weren’t occupied babysitting Iraq’s civil war. The Afghanis even want more or less what we want, unlike the Sunni-Shia-Kurd hate triangle that Iraqis left in Iraq can’t or won’t let go. For the most part ordinary Afghans would gladly help us fix their country if we could keep them safe from revanchist Talibs.

Now, thanks to the Kagan clan’s genius surge plan, it doesn’t really matter how loud Afghanistan’s commanders call out for more troops. There’s no reinforcements left. If, god forbid, we have to make an opposed pullout from either country the massive short-term troop increase that would be needed to cover such a dangerous maneuver (as the Iraq Study Group correctly pointed out) just won’t be there.

Commanders in Afghanistan will have to make do with what they’ve got, but what they’ve got isn’t preventing the Taliban from taking back territory. As “surge” troops rotate back from ludicrously extended tours Petraeus will have to work with less. It isn’t with much joy that I look forward to the next Democratic president picking up two miserable wars, a broken army and no economy worth mentioning with which to fix it. Tell me about hope, I see simple math. The troops to salvage either war aren’t there. We won’t even have the spare force to pull out safely.

Then again, maybe al Qaeda will field a navy.

Quote for the Day

Funny things Republicans say:

“Since when is initiating class warfare a conservative campaign tactic?”

Rick Moran, Right Wing Nuthouse.

I wonder what kind of counter-tops Mike Huckabee has?

Is He Or Isn’t He?

Conflicting reports up on memeorandum about whether or not Romney is throwing in the towel and not spending any more of his fortune. This report claims they are done with the ad buys, this story seems to indicate they are going forward with a large purchase.

As to Romney, I have thought about this a good deal, and I simply can not narrow down what exactly it is that thoroughly repulses me about him. It isn’t the Mormonism, as I couldn’t care less about people and their religion unless they are chucking it in my face. I think it is equal parts his naked opportunism, who is supporting him (Hugh and company), and the fact that he is the one individual in the race that when I look at him, my inner self says “he is so totally full of shit.” I haven’t been so thoroughly convinced someone was full of it every time they opened their mouth since, well… Bill Clinton. It really is a mystery why I can not stand the man so much- he isn’t as objectionable as Tancredo or some of the others, but I just have had a knee-jerk dislike of the man since the beginning.

Gee, Ya Think?

The NY Observer on the apparent split between the GOP talking heads and pundits and the GOP voters:

But it may simply be that the Republican electorate (or at least enough of it to select a nominee) may not be as ideologically pure as the conservative pundits might prefer. Perhaps many Republican voters really do think global warming should be addressed. It could be that lots of Republican voters like tax cuts but want them accompanied by good old-fashioned budget cuts. It may be that when they’re not in the throes of an impassioned immigration debate, many Republican voters wouldn’t mind eventually legalizing millions of immigrants, so long as the border is sealed first. And frankly, G.O.P. primary voters simply may find Mr. McCain’s heretical support for campaign finance reform a lot less significant than personal character traits like honesty, courage and persistence.

It sure would be nice to think that the base of the dwindling GOP is not as batshit insane as the nutters at the NRO, Red State, etc., but I have not seen much evidence of it. The thing that needs to be said, over and over, though, is that Rush Limbaugh and those guys simply aren’t conservatives. They just aren’t. Radically restructuring government to create an unaccountable executive is not conservative. Building a security apparatus that is designed to spy on citizens is not a conservative principle. Runaway spending and bloated budgets are not conservative ideas. Torture and permanent aggressive wars are not conservative principles. Fearmongering and keeping the electorate scared is not a conservative principle. And on and on.

The fact of the matter is the self-styled loud-mouth conservatives just aren’t very conservative.

Magical Unity Pony Sighting

Get you some M.U.P. right here:

“I know it is tempting — after another presidency by a man named George Bush — to simply turn back the clock, and to build a bridge back to the 20th century,” the Illinois senator said in Denver.

“… It’s not enough to say you’ll be ready from Day One — you have to be right from Day One,” he added in unmistakable criticisms of Clinton, who often claims she’s better prepared to govern, and her husband, who pledged during his own presidency to build a bridge to the 21st century.

Consider this your open thread.

Mitt Romney, Economist

I have the flu and a fever, so feel free to write this off as feverish conjecture, but I find this interesting:

Given four choices, 45 percent of Florida Republican primary voters said the economy is the most important issue facing the country. Terrorism was picked by 21 percent of voters, while immigration and Iraq were picked by relatively few. The economy also was the top issue out of three choices for voters in the Democratic primary, which none of the candidates contested because of questions about whether Florida’s Democratic delegates will be seated at the convention. The economy has been seen as increasingly important since the start of the 2008 presidential nomination season. McCain won the votes of Republican voters most concerned about the economy, getting 40 percent of their support. Clinton easily won the support of those Democrats who were most concerned about the issue.

Unless I am confused, isn’t Mitt Romney’s whole campaign based around his business acumen, and his ability to get the economy back on track? And yet, even among Republicans, he can not capitalize on his so-called strength?

Is it possible that his business experience is a net negative- with people losing their asses in the market and losing their homes because of the loan fiasco and after several years of an allegedly booming economy that people are not feeling, perhaps Mitt merely symbolizes the business executive cashing end of the year 30 million dollar bonus checks while everyone else is hurting?

Again, just a feverish thought, because I am not sure why those concerned with the economy broke for McCain.