Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Life in Hell

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
Forget Sen. Richard Lugar's speech. It isn't a sign of hope; it's a sign of complete insanity. In an interview on NPR this morning, the most decisive effort to end the war he could come up with was his own speech to an empty Senate chamber. Funding? "Support our troops." What could the Congress do? The most he could come up with was a "sense of the Senate resolution." Why? "Support our troops." The interview is a marvel of mendacity:

If we are not thoughtful and careful, the president may believe that he can simply continue on with or without the Congress, but I think he is wrong in that assumption. And my fear is that at some point we will have a withdrawal from Iraq that is very disorderly and not very well planned. That would be a tragedy for the troops, a tragedy for Iraq, a tragedy for us with regard to all of the neighborhood out there that could become very, very volatile.

If the president does not see things your way and continues on the same course, should the Senate and Congress in general force him to change?

I'm not certain how that occurs. I would just say that at some stage it will become apparent that the lack of support for the president not only in the Congress but with the public would command such a change. Even the president will understand that.
Notice the brilliant use of the passive voice. The President won't be responsible for ending the war. The Congress won't be responsible for ending the war. Apparently the fairies at the bottom of the garden will work their magic, and that will end the war! "Even the President will understand that."

If we have not reached that point now, when would we, given the lack of support for the war and the concerns that have been raised in Congress?
Indeed; if not now, when?
In the latest CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll released Tuesday, 69 percent of those polled believe things are going badly in Iraq....Thirty percent of Americans polled say they favor the war, the lowest level of support on record. Two-thirds are opposed.
Well, not quite now:

Well, there is still very considerable support for certain elements of our activities in Iraq. This is a very complex business as opposed to just simply being in or out. That is why the president really has to enter a dialogue that is a more extensive one than the current one we have.
It is almost breathtaking the way Sen. Lugar manages to say absolutely nothing. This is more "complex" than "simply being in or out"? How so, pray tell? Speak to us, O Delphic Oracle!

And it doesn't get any better:

Given what you said, the next time there is an opportunity for you to vote on the war, would you be a vote against the war?

I'm not going to have a vote for or against the war, at least I don't conceive of how this would occur. Most likely debate will occur once again when we take up money for the troops, for the prosecution of Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. I think the majority of the Senate, regardless of how they feel about the prosecution of the war, are not about to cut off funds that would jeopardize our troops in any way. That will be probably an overlying proposition.

Which sounds like you're saying that this is not going to change your vote.

Not with regard to support of the troops. I'm going to vote for the authorization and the appropriations. But there are many, many ways in which the Congress ultimately can influence even the president with regard to this war and we'll have to think through the most appropriate one.

Give me one — before we let you go — one thing that Congress can do.

Well, Congress could offer at minimum Sense of the Senate resolutions. They do not have the effect of law, but they clearly indicate how the country feels through its representatives. And that we really have not come to do simply because we have not really wanted to be ambiguous as a nation with regard to our foreign policy.
Meanwhile, in Baghdad, people consider death by natural causes a blessing. Our troops are on extended tours of duty because the "surge" is impossible without leaving everyone there forever and a day. But Congress can't reallocate funds for the war because Congress has to "support our troops."

Think Progress has a nice collection of fine-sounding words, too. Voinovich comes closest to the matter, saying: "I think that many of us are going to look at legislation that will limit the number of troops," which is not exactly a ringing commitment for withdrawal. Jeff Sessions "agrees that troops levels should be reduced 'as soon as it is realistic to do it.'" And John "Warner said that he too feels the September reporting date is too long to wait to revise U.S. war policy." Not even sound and fury, but still signifying nothing.

Welcome to the insane asylum. We have to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. To do otherwise would not support our troops.

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