Now What?

Everyone’s wondering (well, in the liberal American thoughtspace), “Now that the Democrats have control of both the House and the Senate, what do we do next?” Meaning, of course, what do the Congressional Democrats do with the big mess the Repugnicans have handed them?
And by “What next?”, I think people mean “What to do about Bush’s adventures in Iraq?”

The problem here, I think, is that the Democrats’ answer to this is: We wouldn’t have gone in there in the first place. Going into Iraq was a stupid move, made out of stupidity and greed and ignorance, and which has exposed the country to far more danger than Iraq ever posed before we went in there.

Which, unfortunately, doesn’t solve the problem, because we are there, and pulling out without first stabilizing the government is just going to leave Iraq to turn into a breeding ground for really serious problems, because the nation basically consists of (at least) three factions who don’t really want to coexist peacefully.

The Repugnicans have been accusing the Democrats of not having a plan for stabilizing Iraq and finishing our jobs there. Which is ironic since the Repugnicans certainly don’t have such a plan, and have spent the past four years proving that they don’t have a plan. The Bushies’ plan, as far as I can tell, involved going in, extracting as much value as possible for their friends, and leaving the political mess for someone else to clean up.

But, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the Democrats have a plan, either. And I have yet to hear anything which sounds remotely like a real plan from the Democrats which will accomplish the goals of getting the US out of Iraq without leaving it a complete disaster area. All the post-election chatter seems to discuss vaguaries like “The American people voted for change, and by god we’re going to give it to them.” But “change” doesn’t mean “progress”, and to me it sounds like “we don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’ll come up with something.”

I’ve written about all this before, and it’s dismaying to feel like I need to write about it again, that nothing’s changed in three months. But it’s such a bloody disaster, and it’s not at all clear to me that the Democrats have any idea what to do about it. Never mind that it’s not really Congress’ job to deal with it, it’s the job of the Executive branch and the military. And, as I said above, I don’t think the Bushies are really interested in dealing with the problem.

Anyway, hopefully at least we’ll get some subpoenas and hearings so that some of the administration’s backroom machinations will come to light.

3 thoughts on “Now What?”

  1. I tend to agree with Bill Maher, who appeared on Larry King that night and essentially said that the American government doesn’t need to wring its hands about pulling out the troops- just pull them out and see what happens, and stop interfering in the region. Offer aid and support but don’t force it on them. Work on fixing problems at home, reducing the massive debt, etc. When the GOP talks about an “exit strategy,” they are talking about cementing business relationships.

  2. I tend to think that the Bush administration thinks of an exit strategy as “leave the region in a condition friendly to the American government and business interests”. Which just ain’t gonna happen, short of an alien invasion.

    My personal feeling is “However we got there, we’re there now. By invading, we’ve taken on an obligation to the people of Iraq to not flush them down the drain.” I’m not convinced that pulling out would hose them in the long term, but it sure would in the short term. I would support a pull-out if it was accompanied by a plan – almost any plan! – to stabilize the region in the long-term.

    The first goal should be to stop the bleeding. It serves no one to keep pissing away American troops on an ill-defined mission they can’t achieve. Pull the troops back into areas they can defend, even if that means turning Baghdad into a secure military base and giving up on most of Iraq. Sectarian violence will rise, but American troop losses will drop along with political presssure on finding a solution right now.

    Second, decide what your goal is and get an over-engineered estimate of time/money/troops it will take to achieve. Do the same for Afghanistan. When we inevitably realize we can win or the other without a massive military buildup and debt spiral, decide which is more important (Afghanistan) and react accordingly.

    Finally, as far as hearings and subpoenas go, I doubt we’ll see much of that. Frankly, I’m not as interested in assigning blame to Halliburton or the neocons as I am in seeing the Democrats set out an actual agenda and try to acheive it. If, two years from now, the only thing the Democrats end up doing is blaming Republicans and stopping a few of the more egregious Bush proposals, they’ll lose their Congressional majority and be in an even deeper hole than they were in 2002.

    The American people didn’t vote for change, they voted for progress. The Democrats managed not to screw up the election too badly. Now they have to show they can actually govern.

  3. As you note, foreign policy is the President’s job. The Democrats may control Congress now, but they can’t start running the war. It’s not their job.

    And before we get too upset about this, remember: The people spoke, and Donald Rumsfeld is now out of a job.

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