Politics: November 2005 Archives

The NYT reports that the Iraqi government claims some "resistance leaders" wish to join the political process. The timing is interesting; we are asked to withdraw, they begin to join the process. Whatever the catalyst, this is good. The more people included in politics, the less have to express themselves in more violent ways. Plus, anything that helps us withdraw sooner without leaving the Iraqi government to the wolves is good.

Iraqi leaders have called for a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. This is viewed as a gesture from the dominant Shiites to the minority Sunnis, who coincidentally lack oil in the regions they are a majority in.

I think the United States needs to meet that demand. I don't see how, failing to do as asked, the Sunnis, who are stoked to suspicion if not violence by their extremist factions, will see the US as anything but an unwanted oppressor. I think ideally, we can hopefully hedge our bets a bit with some comments about how our withdrawal dates will be "if the government of Iraq confirms it has met its goals for the readiness of its security forces". We won't want to pull out and leave the Iraqi government unable to maintain order. It's clear that the extremist Sunnis are still very unhappy about not being in absolute control and the process to have even a remotely secular government will not be an easy road to travel. However, given the pressure to pull out here at home, I think the Bush administration has no choice but to respond affirmatively to the request.

I also think that this will be good for Bush's poll numbers. It may sound too petty to compare, but I think the psychology is the same, so I'm going to contrast Bush's policy decisions with customer service. Customers who call up a customer service line with a problem are happier with their call when they are immediately told that they will be helped. This is why many good customer service departments will respond to a query they are equipped to handle with, "Okay, I can help you with that," as the first sentence in their response. Why? Because people like progress. It doesn't matter how bad things are; if you feel like you're headed in the right direction, you feel good. A pullout from Iraq has been discussed since before we went in, but endless repetition of, "When the job is done" does not provide any comfort to Americans. We need a timetable. We need a goal. Even if the dates are not absolute, rock-solid, drop-dead dates, we need some dates, and we need the contingencies to be spelled out. "One hundred thousand trained security force members, and we withdraw 50% of our troops over eight weeks, starting April 1st, 2006" - that's a real goal. (And yes, I know.)

Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said American-led foreign forces should be able to leave Iraq by the end of next year, noting that the one-year extension of the mandate for multinational force in Iraq by the United Nations Security Council earlier this month could be the last.

"By mid next year, we will be 75 percent done in building our forces and by the end of next year it will be fully ready," he told Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab broadcast news channel and Web service.

Good. I think that while the majority of Americans want to see us out - and I count myself among that number - we also want to see things work out. Somewhere between the vehement anti-war rhetoric that has grown stronger as the support for the war has eroded, and the right-wing "dishonor the sacrafice of the fallen" rhetoric, is the reality: this war is painful, it was started under false pretenses by an administration dead set on going to war, but to allow the country to fall into the hands of extremists when we are close to being able to ensure a balanced secular government remains in power would be tragic. The fear, of course, is that no amount of money and sacrafice can help us win. If I believed that were true, I'd be in favor of an immediate pullout. I think the war has far-reaching negative consequences, but I do think that there are enough people in Iraq who want to see their fledgling government survive that they can do it, if we help. But we have nearly nothing to lose and everything to gain by committing to a withdrawal timetable, especially since so long as that deadline remains in the future and relatively near, it may block the effectiveness of any sort of "rebel against the oppressor" line taken by extremists who strike without any apparent distinction at both Iraqi and American people.

I think it was slightly tongue in cheek when late bloomer referred to herself as a socialist. But I actually enjoy the exercise of comparative political philosophy, and so I'm going to go ahead and comment on her quiz.

Via Michelle Malkin to this post is the story of USHR condemnation of the ruling in Fields v Palmdale School District. I don't much like the public school system, and I'll admit it. First, most public schools have class sizes that are way too large, when small class sizes are much better. Then there's the bizarre stories of schools and how they react to innocent mistakes by innocent kids who do things like making small coding errors or, worse yet, bring butter knives to school! But the commentary on this, USHR condemnation or not is off.

Why? I did something naughty and actually read the ruling in the case. And I quote:


Prior to administering the survey, Seymour mailed a letter to the parents of the children to be surveyed informing them of the questionnaire's nature and purpose, and requesting their consent to its administration.

And also:

The letter did not explicitly state that some questions involved sexual topics, although it did specify that the survey questions were about "early trauma (for exam- ple, violence)" and there was a warning that "answering ques- tions may make [the] child feel uncomfortable."

This is not to say the parents should not have a right to control what their children get asked in such a survey; I think if a parent wants to exclude a 7 yr-old from a sexual questionnaire, that's reasonable. But these parents did, in fact, have a chance to do so. When I've fully digested the ruling, I'll report back on what sort of relief they were seeking, since it seems like an "opt out" would be a reasonable request, and they already had it.

United States For Sale

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Ok, not really. But if we're up to our ass in debt, we'll be in trouble. I lot of people won't like that I said, "Good for them" for Republicans cutting social programs. Would that be my first choice? No. But if you need to cut $100/mo to stay solvent and your significant other won't give up their uber MMO rental account that you consider fluff, you may have to cut out the lattes or even the good books. Does that make it the wrong choice? No. If you have to take a bullet, take it in a non-lethal zone. That doesn't mean we don't look for another way, but it does mean we sure as hell don't just spend spend spend. Democrats should actually see this as a chance to show fiscal leadership. Look for nonessential programs to cut and FORCE Republicans to cut some of their pet crap too if you can.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from November 2005.

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