Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've moved!

This blog hasn't been in service for quite some time... However, if you've liked what you've read, I'm now the writer/editor of - please click on over and check us out!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Way Out: First steps.

Republicans talk of political stability in Iraq created by a calmer security environment, which is facilitated by American military presence. Democrats want to force Iraqi political reconciliation by signaling to the Iraqi government that American forces won't be around forever by threatening a withdrawal of troops.

At this point, the basic aim of both parties is to convince Iraqi political parties that it is within their national interest to work together. The thinking goes that once all sides are locked into their positions within the government, the fighting will cease because militia bosses and their political patrons will be content with their place in the pecking order.

This logic fails to accept that the various warring parties do not want to resolve their centuries of religious, political, and ethnic differences, unless their sect is on top. Furthermore, this logic fails to accept that we are no longer in a "war". Instead, we should be simultaneously conducting a long-term police action along with deft diplomatic maneuvering designed to get a foreign government to act in American interests.

Let's then admit that diplomacy should take precedence over security, because political stability is the only condition under which we'll ever leave. And, by definition, diplomacy is using reward and punishment (or, "carrots and sticks" to use diplomatic vernacular) in order to get someone to act in your self interest.

What, then, is the carrot and stick that the US proposes to the Iraqis?

From the Republican perspective, there is neither: The Bush administration is obviously advocating that the sides reconcile, but without tangible motivation to do so either in terms of political or financial reward, without obvious punishment if they don't. No carrot, no stick, no progress.

From the Democrat perspective, at least there's a (proposed) stick: if the sides don't reconcile, they propose we leave. In other words, failure to make political progress will be punished by even greater levels of insecurity. Where is the Democrat carrot? If the Democrats are serious about a different course in Iraq, then there has to be a motivating factor for the Iraqis to work together.


One guaranteed carrot is exactly the opposite of what the Democrats have proposed: Turn our withdrawal from a stick into a carrot. If the sides take steps to pass legislation, then guarantee that each milestone achieved will be guaranteed to be met by a predetermined withdrawal of troops. It's unquestionable that the political parties' constituents want the US to go home. Make that promise, but attach it to progress.

Here's where the refocused stick comes in: taking the fight to them. Promise complete destruction without progress, and then show them by attaching punishment to lack of progress.

But also, solutions start by talking to the people who matter: the extremist warlords, not the government. Find out what they want, then work on a way to give it to them within an acceptable American framework. Peace in Northern Ireland finally looks like it's about to work because the erstwhile extremists -- Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley -- sat down and agreed to terms to live together. On the other hand, 2000's near Israel-Palestine Camp David Summit failed because Arafat couldn't placate the extremists back home.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Post-Patraeus Testamony

When General David Patraeus is finally done testifying infront of the various House committees, what will we have learned?

-- It is fair to examine any witnesses credentials, whether they be civilian or military, Republican or Democrat, Superman or Lex Luthor. Every man, woman, and child is born with biases which are difficult to completely repress, particularly if you are testifying on how well you're doing in your own job.

-- Some of the numbers General Patraeus has already provided in his testimony are misleading. At one point, he claimed that violence has decreased in the past TWO WEEKS, and that that number is a sign that the "surge" is working. Two weeks is a data-point, not a trend.
-- Al-Qa'ida in Iraq is going to have a field day with this testamony. Look for increased operations and attacks in the next few months, just to prove the man wrong.

-- General Patraeus will not convince anyone of anything. In such a politically charged environment with an election looming, this is a sad thing.

-- "Christina's Court", a daytime courtroom reality show somewhat akin to Judge Judy and currently showing in DeTocque's office, may provide more high-brow exchanges on the law. At least Judge Christina is a little more attractive than Petraeus. But just a little.

-- General Petraeus says that his testamony was not prepared with the help of the White House. Interesting that he suggested a significant withdrawl of troops in summer 2008, right before the election.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Security Offensive

The Dems fear of being painted "soft on terrorism" will be their albatross through this election cycle, and probably the next. Read about it here in the Washington Post.

(Pelosi scared of taking the security offensive?)

Even though they're in the majority in Congress, the article fails to point out that they have to play to the Administration's tune on this because, well, the Administration has long-since seized the alleged security high ground. Every Dem from Maine to Hawaii can picture the 30-second adverts come July '08 saying, "Do you really want to vote for 'Dem Candidate X' who voted against the following national security bills???? (cue scary music)". This makes them do silly things like talking a tough game on civil liberties then blindly reauthorizing the FISA bill.

Why not turn the tide on the administration? It seems like the Dems are caught in the spot of having to constantly debate Republican-proposed national security bills. Where are their Democratic-sponsored alternatives? Instead of opposing a FISA bill, why don't they PROpose an alternate version. This is what the majority does -- control the agenda, right? Is the issue that these Patriot Act-esque laws need consistent reauthorizing, and therefore must be debated? Could be... So why not simultaneously vote the Republican version down, and approve your own?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Which is Worse?

Well, it's been a great break over the summer, but DeTocque should probably get back in action.
Read this piece in the FT, on Bush's speech regaring the future of the Middle East.

Frankly, and disappointingly, on the finer technical points of the US abandoning Iraq, it's rather hard to completely disagree with this doomsday scenario (though his choice of prose and delivery-style continue to induce fits of wretching):

His point is this: on a macro-level, a US withdrawl would very likely strengthen (nay, do I hear an "embolden"?) the influence of Iran, Syria et al, and could, in theory, lead to a some sort of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Fair enough. You can cobble together his logic from the article. It might be the worse-case, but hey, that's probably where this thing is headed, right?

So, DeTocque submits this, gentle readers:

The Bushies are talking themselves in circles (again). Since 2003, the public has heard, "Okay, even though we didn't technically find WsMD, the world is a better place because Saddam is gone." So, if we begrudgingly accept that the some group will remained threatened or repressed no matter which course on the space-time continuum we take, which is worse -- to leave Saddam in power, free to reign despotically but isolatedly over the Shi'a and Kurds, OR TO PERMIT AN ENTIRE REGION TO GAIN NUCLEAR WEAPONS?

How ironic, then: by trying to rid Iraq of it's WsMD, the Bush administration has given them to the rest of the reigon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

McCain in Trouble

Check out this article on John McCain's staggering campaign effort, from the NYT. This is a pointed validation of the danger of getting into the campaign too early. Just think about where McCain would be today if people were begging him to get in the race because they were unhappy with the rest of the field. Instead, the faithful are dying to have a Fred Thompson or a Newt get in to spice things up.

Perhaps this bodes well for future races as candidates realize the downsides of a two-year campaign.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

First blog ever?

Was here: Okay, so maybe not this EXACT one... But think about it -- what other format allowed, nay PERMITTED, free flowing prose, poetry, art, and other forms of both intellectual and unintelligible exchanges than your friendly bathroom wall? DeTocque's favorite "early blog" would have to be at The Raven in DC's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood.