Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Road to 2008

Another must watch Meet the Press.

First half Newt Gingrich; I'd say the most clear thinking politician of major note currently in the country (discounting his grating self-centered personality).

Gingrich is on a crusade to get better ideas in the public. Across party lines. He of all people is paying for the sins he in part created of the brutal divisiveness of American political debate.

Listen very closely to Gingrich's analysis of the Iraq War. It is the most trans-partisan you will hear. No National Review, Weekly Standard, Liberal Press coverage, comes anywhere close to the deftness he displays.

The American Army had a plan for re-structuring Iraqi society. It was a de-Saddmification but not a De-Baathification or de-sunnification. It was not the neoconservative illusion of asserting American power and creating Democracy.

It was as Gingrich says, "too American." When the issue of troop numbers comes up, again he is right on cue.

Gingrich: 130-150,000 troops was the right number SO LONG AS the strategy was an Afghanistan-like move to use the Iraqi Army to hold the line, a government helped in part by neighboring states as we did with Afghanistan (and yes Iran did help us there too). And a quick American leave.

IF the plan was to come with a total US occupation and US imperial pipedream of democratization, then 400-500,000 troops were needed as then Gen. Shinseki said.

With Bush and Rumsfield we got the worst of both worlds. The number for an Iraqi transfer to power with an American occupation.

Gingrich says, agreeing with Hillary Clinton, that the best thing that could be done for Iraq would be an FDR-style mass job creation (like Tenn. Valley Authority, Civilian Conservation Corps) for Iraqi youth. Where unemployment is 60%. I talked about this yesterday in relation to Lt.Gen Peter Chiarelli who said the exact same thing.

Gingrich also points out that all of the institutions minus the military are broken. He names Treasury, Justice, Intelligence, State. None of these are working. I would add Homeland Security.

When Gingrich talks about increasing the size of State Dept. by 50%, bringing them up to speed on the latest technology (which they are not by a longshot), he is talking about the Dept. of Reconstruction/Failed States mentioned by Thomas Barnett.

Gingrich is asked the standard question about more/less troops, showing the rut this country's thinking is in. Again Gingrich refuses to fall into the one-dimensional mode of thinking on this. He says that more troops IF AND ONLY IF, there is a total and major revision of the policy.

The two biggest points of which are: 1.Regional Diplomacy (ala Baker-Hamilton) AND 2. Job Creation.

The Bush Administration is nowehere on either of those. The policy that Bush will outline after Christmas, thanks to his contacts with right-wing elements like Fred Kagan have advised him: one more massive push of troosp (20-30,000) for 2 years. That is leaving the problem for the next guy, what I believed Bush would do all along. The WeeklyStandard will go down in my books as one of the prime destroyers of American standing in the world.

My prediction: US casualties will increase dramatically. The violence will be tampered only minimally at best in Baghdad but will spread vociferously to other regions. Likely the violence in Baghdad will increase.

More troops can not win the war in Iraq. Bush is too f--ing ignorant and stubborn to realize this. Only as Gingrich said if it is part of a re-thought stategy that the country consents to.

Bush will drop to historically low numbers of support: hovering near 20% and there will be a real political crisis not seen since Watergate. When he starts hitting Richard Nixon numbers (25% or lower) and he will if he goes this route because he is following a LOSING POLICY--repeat THIS STRATEGY CAN NOT SUCCEED, forget all the talk about "victory" and "being strong"--this is a NON_WINNING STRATEGY--the shit is really going to hit the fan.

The Republican party will push on Georgie to stop the madness. He will push back and that fight will determine everything I suppose.

For alert readers, Barnett is behind all of this. Gingrich is an ideas man, a PhD in history and has read his Pentagon's New Map.

Gingrich also plugs Barack Obama, for the reason I have mentioned above all. A Boomer can not solve the problem of social division created by the Boomers. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but that truly is my sense.

That may not be enough of a reason to vote the man. And Gingrich of all people when asked by Russert if 1 unfinished term in the Senate is enough, said it worked allright for Lincoln--another one term Illinois senator. Wow. That's a repsonse.

What Gingrich also understands is the move towards open-source violence and the need to create networked resiliency across the board (see Global Guerillas). In other words Gingrich is talking about cyber-war and cyber-defense, using some of the same methods of disruption attacks on the attackers (terrorists, jihadists).

Gingrich and I disagree on the nature of that enemy, in the sense that he leans more towards a monolithic WWIV Islamo-fascism type approach, whereas I see the issue more as de-centralized sub-national groups and tribalistic localized conflicts that are never local in a global worldspace.

But whoever does get elected, whoever becomes the frontrunners for either party, they have to listen, really listen to what he is saying.

---

Part II, Thomas Friedman and David Brooks both from the NYtimes. Again, two very intelligent guys.

Key points they raise.

Friedman: the Iraqis have shifted to a place at which reconcilation is impossible. The country is headed to some division (3 or more?).

In one his great heuristic devices for understanding the world, TF says--

In the Middle East the politicians lie in private and tell you what they really think in public in their own language. In the US the politicians lie in public and tell the truth in secret. Bush applies the US rule of politics to Iraq--like his recent meetings with Shia leader al-Hakim and Sunni politican (and VP) Hashemi.

Brooks: Picking up on that point the larger splits in the Middle East. There are only 3 real nation-states in the ME: Turkey, Iran, and Egypt. All the rest are amalgams, Western creations, dictators, faked states. This violence is and will continue to rock these countries. Lebanon is now radically transformed. Saudi Arabia as it begins to send troops into Iraq--whenver that is, will have some of that violence brought back to it.

Jordan is looking more and more threatened everyday.

Even when the Iraqi conflicts dies down (5 years?) the jihadis who have gained their expertise fighting the US, militias, gangs, other insurgents are going to go back to their countries. There will be major blowback from this operation.

If withdrawal is planned and executed, then the US will start experiencing attacks on embassies worldwide. US installations and foreign companies--see Nigeria's oil pipeline as current evidence--will come under more attack.
--

So for 2008 things are starting to become clear in terms of who is needed.

Obama can unite and represents the "Audacity of Hope." He is a Democrat Democrats would love to vote for. I think Hillary would be another Al Gore/John Kerry vote for him because she is the party candidate but I'm not really that into her (him). I still think Hillary would do better to become Senate Majority Leader and do what she does best: hardwork on policy in the legislature.

Giuliani would represent a hero in a time of danger and crisis. He would model himself very strongly on Reagan who brought back the sunshine after Vietnam. Rudy becomes a very intriguing possibility.

McCain the warrior. He will run a very tough-minded, hawkish, anti-Iranian campaign.

Either way I see the social conservatives increasingly minimized as a force within the Republican base given that foreign events and the threat levels are going to be running very high, they will have to take their lumps, especially if it is Rudy (pro-choice).

I think as events continue to sprial downward, Romney could get squeezed. But maybe I'm wrong on that.

The Republican party if Bush continues his arrogant slide will be headed to a disastrous, epic defeat in 2008. I don't know who can get through to Bush and Cheney and their steel-shut minds. This is shaping up to be the worst second term in US political history. [Notice I said worst second term, not worst president].

But hopefully out of the ashes of Bush's hubristic incompetence, the situation will bring forth a leader and a people who will go together into the new century.

2 Comments:

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous md said...

I'm glad Gingrich is resonating with you. I agree, he's smart. Definitely worth paying attention to.

You know, if he were really transpartisan, you'd likely see both conservatives and progressives complaining about his views, or at least critiquing them severely.

(At least if one views the political world as a bunch of lumps, which I don't, but you'd need that, or something like it, for anything like "transpartisan" to make any sense.)

But if one pays attention to these things, one would know that is not the case. The progressives at the TAPPED blog ignore him, or think he's nuts. Whereas, conservatives at The Corner have heaped almost unanimous praise upon his ideas and clarity. Now some don't think he has much chance to win the Republican nomination, but that is a different issue.

A good debate, on the Republican side, would be betwixt Romney and Gingrich. Two smart, articulate, media-savvy people.

I don't see a good debate happening on the Democrat side (Clinton v Obama make strike some that way, but to me it'll just be a rush to the center, so in that way its predictable).

md

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

In reference to the Corner, Lowry I think more or less has gone on record saying the current Iraq policy is a failure.

Not sure about some of the others.

Gingrich's views on troop level increases are not sitting well with the Weekly Standard crowd. So he is getting heat from certain right wing elements anyway.

But you maybe right that Gingrich's position on Iraq is going to become the de facto position on the right wing (minus Weekly Standard). Certainly maong Senate/House Republicans and the emerging frontrunners for Rep. nomination.

Certainly Gingrich working with Hillary Clinton on healthcare reform hasn't made some in that constituency pleased.

And his recent speech, which maybe I'll go through at some point, on closing down web sites, has raised some eyebrows among libertarians. Although he has come out so strongly against McCain-Feingold so maybe that balances that out.

But ur certainly right he is being ignored, caricatured on the left. To be expected sadly--I assume.

Still I think the point about state level increases, dysfunctionality of national structures, that is getting no play among the right, as far as I can tell. That is what I meant by trans-partisan.

His point that he was for the war (contra much left wing) and correctly says to the left what are the consequences of withdraw BUT was not in favor of American occupation, Bush's policy, or democratization for the Middle East (contra at least the neocon right).

And he could care less about these arguments for more or less troops because he knows the real issue is that there is a failed policy.

I see both the left and right in their own ways seeing everything through the lens of Iraq.

Gingrich to me represents someone who articulates a vision based on the 21st century, not how to deal/not deal with the post-war loss in Iraq. Although he certainly includes that.

Obama talks about hope, which is always a good thing, and unity, but he is going to have to get a lot more specific than that. Gingrich's ideas on remaking instruments of state (minus military) is the one point I think the two groups could coalesce around, thereby giving Obama the prime mechanism to achieve his goal.

A goal by the way I actually think he has the inherent capacity, charisma to achieve.

I really believe Gingrich when he says that he is more interested in ideas (he is an academic) than anything else.

He's got contact with Hillary as we know. And his answers yesterday sent a clear signal that he would welcome such realtions with Barack.

And generally I think ur right that the Democratic primary might be more about style points or themes (hope versus whatever Hillary comes up with) than specific policy debates.

If we are in the same or worse situation in Iraq in 2008, the Republicans will go down. And I mean way down. No matter what interesting debate there is on the right.

I'm not saying that's a good thing necessarily. Just more an observation.

If Bush is forced to back away from his policy in whatever form and admit defeat--which again I can't see happening but stranger things have taken place--then I think that opens the door for McCain and especially Giuliani.

I think Giuliani will wrap himself in the mantle of Reagan. And that becomes a very interesting parallel. Reagan worked fairly well with a Democratic House and Seanate which is what the next Republican president, if a Republican wins, will have to do.

While at the same time articulating a bright hope, a charisma, and a leader in crisis. That plays well to both Giuliani and McCain, and I think Romney has run a very good campaign to date, almost flawless, but I still wonder whether such a situation really works against him.

I guess u see Romney lying in the weeds and I see Giuliani more so. But to be fair, Giuliani has not yet shown himself to have done well with the appartus of running a campaign--oddly. Romney has.

 

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