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May 08, 2007

The Next Murthquake
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Outside of the mid-term elections, the two most important moments in the Congressional Iraq debate came in 2005 when John Murtha called for withdrawal and more recently when the House passed the now vetoed Iraq Supplemental.  The key to the Murtha moment was that it finally made it acceptable for mainstream Democrats to support withdrawal.   The House Vote last month turned a responsible timeline for withdrawal into the de facto unified position of the Democratic Party. 

What will happen next is a galvanizing event that will make drawdown an acceptable position for mainstream Republicans - The “Republican Murthquake.”  My guess is that we will see this somewhere between July and September.  Perhaps after General Petreaus gives his report on the progress of the “surge.”

Already you see the Republican consensus breaking up.  Minority Leader John Boehner was on the talk shows on Sunday giving ground.  Endangered Republicans like Senators Susan Collins and Norm Coleman are teetering.  And even the National Review has a blog post today on timelines

So, what will the Republican “Murthquake” look like?  Most likely it will be a prominent conservative calling very publicly and in no uncertain terms for an end to the war.  The most likely candidate is Senator John Warner of Virginia – a former Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.  Collin Powell is another good candidate.  James Baker, Henry Kissinger or maybe someone who resigns from the administration.  Bob Gates would be the optimal choice, but that is far far beyond wishful thinking.

One word of caution.  Even after Murtha’s moment it took a year and a half, and an election, to finally get Democrats united behind withdrawal.  After the Republican Murthquake, Congress still won’t have a veto proof majority.  It will take a long time, perhaps until after the 2008 elections to finally and permanently change Iraq policy.  But the political pressure is building, the consensus is fraying and the situation in Iraq is not getting any better.  It is only a matter of time.


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I would think the Republican Murthquake would first come in the form of a breakout by one of the Republican presidential candidates, followed by significant polling movement in the direction of that candidate. If that happens, the rush will be on in Congress.

Well as Rummy said: "As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

Okay, I don't understand it either, but my point is that there are many other variables in this situation than congressional politics. Normally a military conflict is predominately governed by facts on the ground, after all. The new surge strategy is to put GIs in vulnerable mini-forts strung around Baghdad, where the troops are not only isolated from the Iraqi people (not entirely a bad thing) and have to keep a weather eye for their Iraqi Army counterparts, in self-defense I mean. Again, they're highly vulnerable.

Iran is another major variable. The Israelis are straining at the leash, along with Edwards, Clinton and Obama, and just in time the good folks at MIT have now calculated what it will take to bomb Iran: (24) 5,000-pound BLU-113 penetrator warheads to collapse the underground centrifuge halls at Natanz, (2) 2,000-pound bombs to destroy the above ground pilot production plant at Natanz, (12) 2,000-pound BLU-109 penetrator warheads to blow up the underground uranium conversion facility at Esfahan and (10) 2,000-pound GBU-10 laser guided bombs to hit the heavy water production plant and reactor site at Arak. That's what our universities are for, right? The Israelis can handle that part of it while the US tries to neutralize the extensive Iranian defenses and their missiles aimed at US bases in Iraq. A possible major disaster.

The US troops in Iraq are another variable. Morale is low amongst the troops doing the heavy lifting (as contrasted with the ones on the cushy bases), the troops are grumbling about extended tours, life in those mini-forts is terrible and there are resisters.

There are other variables, including US and Iraqi politics, the oil law, etc. In any case I believe that a change in US/Iraq policy, a known unknown, will occur sooner than a year-and-a-half from now.

It's a nice thought, but we ought to be clear what a "prominent Republican" is in this context. It is not Henry Kissinger or Jim Baker, famous men but long retired. Neither is it a Congressman or Senator "giving ground," expressing concern or speaking about the Iraq commitment equivocally. It would have to be a Republican active in public life, and if that Republican is not Bob Gates it will have to be one with a constituency of his own. And it will probably have to be a Republican willing to criticize President Bush directly, the theory being you don't gain as much turning against Bush's war if you are still associated with Bush.

Perhaps after General Petreaus gives his report on the progress of the “surge.”

Not a chance. Petreaus has bet his career on making this work, and he will, even if he has to doctor the numbers.

Petreaus will put the best spin he can on this disaster come September. The Dems shouldn't expect any help from him.

Isn't it ironic that Democrats don't support democracy in Iraq.

That they are willing to allow for the high probability of the violent overthrow of a democratic government by violent misogynist, and homophobes. How liberal.

I Support Democracy In Iraq


I'm a JFK liberal:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. - John F. Kennedy

Not many of us left. Sadly. Far too many have become Republicans. Like me. I shook Harry Truman's hand once. It was an honor.

I really am against throwing the Iraqi people under the bus for the sake of American politics. We did that is South East Asia. I supported that. Once was enough.

M. Simon,

I'm curious. Can you share with us what prices, burdens and hardships you have personally assumed to assure the survival and success of liberty in Iraq?

I served in '66. Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club - RO DLGN-25. I'd sign up again if they would have me, but there is an age cut off for joining or re-joining.

I'm rather impecunious due to retirement so the amount of giving I have been able to do is limited.

Evidently, I have some small talent for writing as I have been invited to blog at places with 1K and 2K hits a day (I average about 300 to 500 on my own blog depending). So that is what I do. Write.

Of course I have to spend a lot of time learning. About 4 to 8 hours of study for a good blog post. Although if the bon mots are rolling around in my brain I whip off short pieces faster.

I cover the drug war - I'm against it.
Nuclear Fusion - I'm for it.
Duke Lacrosse - within two or three weeks of the start of the case I was pretty sure of an attempted frame up.

Middle Eastern and American politics/history/philosophy/culture/demographics/social organization/criminal justice/etc.

Plus topics of passing fancy. Naked women are always good for a few hits.

I even got linked by the Muslim Brotherhood once. Instapundit lots of times.

Who Knew that Republican Congressman with 5% support for the war in their districts would rebell and speak to the President and his people and tell them the American people might not be behind this war?

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