Libertarian Arthur Silber’s rant about the review of the Bush Administration’s conduct of the war (from an article in the Democratic Washington Times) took me to Stanley Kurtz’s (his e-mail) lame defense of today’s actions in The National Review. I know it’s bad form to Fisk in 2003, but sometimes life just hands you a hanging curveball and you have to swing away:
The president’s decision to turn to the United Nations for assistance in the occupation and rebuilding of Iraq makes a great deal of sense. It certainly isn’t the ideal approach, but given the divisions within our country, and our general unwillingness to enlarge our military, the president’s decision is reasonable.
I’m sorry, I thought the President was the one who made decisions about the size of the military; it is after all, his
Constitutional legal (under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921) duty to propose a budget. I wasn’t aware that it was a consensus activity; no one’s asked me, for example.
[Update: Bush to mount ‘very aggressive’ campaign to explain U.S. mission in Iraq. About freaking time.For one thing, it might actually work out. To the extent that we can make use of United Nations troops, while continuing to exercise control, the move will have been a success. But of course, the French and Germans, and the United Nations as a whole, will do their best to wrest control from the United States.
If you believe in fairies, clap your hands now…(and as in “What’s Up, Tiger Lily,” the hero’s gun will be magically reloaded…)
The real point is that politically, this was the least bad option. As I pointed out a year ago in “Supersize It,” http://nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz080202.asp our too small military put the president in a political trap. The choice was either to break the budget, eliminate domestic spending and lose the claim to a compassionate conservatism, or repeal the tax cut.
Damn right. Can’t let national security get in the way of a tax cut!! Can’t make any demands on the American people, or lead us in any way whatsoever. Let the other generations sacrifice, we’re on Atkins.
All of these are politically unacceptable. So the alternative was to hand off at least some control of Iraq to the U.N.
No, there were a number of other alternatives, among which was carefully weighing the costs before invading and making sure we had the assets in hand to succeed. We could have done a better job isolating the French and Germans before the war. We could have tried to split the Russians off from the French and Germans after we invaded. Those are three reasonable alternatives, and I’m only a voter.
That actually has the political upside of taking an issue away from the Democrats, who had hoped to run on the claim that the Bush administration was dangerously unilateralist.
Who was it who criticized the Democrats for creating defense policy by worrying about how it would play, and not how it would work?
Is this the best foreign policy? No. The best foreign policy requires not the United Nations, but a united nation. Unfortunately, our nation is not united. The occupation of Iraq is not the occupation of Japan or Germany. This is even more because of the fact that we are different than we were back then than the fact that Iraq is not Japan or Germany.
What kills me is that the victim mentality has, according to this, reached the Oval Office. Bush isn’t a leader, and isn’t to be judged by his success as a leader; he’s just the helpless captive of forces beyond his control. Hang on, I’m going to go rewrite Lincoln’s speeches in that light…
A house divided against itself cannot stand. A nation where the political opposition stands against our foreign policy, and even secretly (and not so secretly) hopes for its failure, cannot reform a region as recalcitrant as the Middle East.
Well, Bush had the opportunity to take that political opposition and weld their feet to a set of policies. He chose short-term political advantage instead. Sorry ’bout that.
A nation where…even after an event like 9/11…a draft can be offered as a political tactic against the hawks, is a nation unready to manage social transformation on the other side of the world. Our culture war is real. Now it has taken its toll.
That’s because the hawks did a piss-poor job of selling the reasons for this war to the general public.
In many ways we are strong. Yet disunited we are weak. Our turning to the U.N. is not necessarily a disaster. But it is a sign that our internal divisions have finally exacted a cost.
He gets paid for this? He’s one of the leading neo-con commentators and he can summarize his argument with this pablum? “…is not necessarily a disaster?” “…have finally exacted a cost?” I’m sorry, I thought the destruction of the WTC and damage to the Pentagon was a disaster. I thought that our incoherent foreign policy over twenty years, which tolerated Wahabbism and radical Islamist institutions, and helped create Al Queida exacted a cost. Bush’s weakness at a critical moment is what’s exacting a cost.
* In a great post extending this and the post below, Porphy busted me on a point of law; the Constitution says nothing about the President submitting a budget. I will stamp my feet and insist he’s wrong about my use of ‘crowing’ however…it may not be OED, but it’s current usage). See also his follow-up post.
* Caerdroia comments.