The Stewart vs. McCain exchange was polite, yet aggressive, to the credit of both men. Mr. McCain handled himself well, earning more respect from me. Still, I wish I had been sitting in his chair, so I could've responded to Mr. Stewart's talking points.
Can we win the Iraqis over when we seem to almost consistently diminish their suffering?
- We are trying to win them to democracy, and away from sharia.
- We are not trying to be touchy feely friends.
- We are not encouraging them to wallow in victim status.
Shouldn't we have metrics and timetables in Iraq?
Greg:Our metric should be that a free Iraqi government can withstand challenges to its sovereignity.
i.e. our metric should be "victory."
Why is Bush saying "I don't want to give a deadline, because that is surrender?"
Because it is [surrender].
Thank you, Senator McCain.
How do you quell a civil war when its not your country?
You support a democratic government against assaults from Sharia.
You support good in a fight against evil.
If Jefferson Davis' Confederates had wished to enslave the South inside a Sharia government, AND if the Sharia government would've then supported terror planners and financiers plotting attacks inside your own European nation, wouldn't you have supported Abraham Lincoln's government in the dispute against Jeff Davis? Wouldn't you have supported democracy against Sharia? Good against evil? Self defense against exposing your throat?
the right say: if we don't fight them in Iraq they'll follow us home. My point is: they'll follow us home anyway, whether we are in Iraq or not.
- if terror planners and financiers have their hands full in the mid-east, they will less frequently turn their attention towards the U.S. mainland.
- if the terror planners believe a provocation in the U.S. could provoke painful retaliation, pace our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, then terror planners will be less likely to attack inside the U.S. mainland.
Further, if we pull out of Iraq under artificial pretenses, terror planners will sense weakness, and will be more likely to attack us in the future.
Stewart: Why should we give this strategy a chance? If the archetects that built a house w/o any doors and windows don't admit what they did, and continue to say "its your fault for not being able to see into it" then I don't understand how we're supposed to go forward.
Greg: what the? I'll try to be serious:
Mr. Stewart's first question:
"Why should we give this strategy a chance?"
- This is the first time we are fighting counterinsurgency warfare against the enemy in and around Baghdad. Before this, we merely attempted to maintain stability. There is a huge difference in the two concepts.
- It's working. The enemy is on the defensive. Our strategic goals are being accomplished.
- The surge is just getting started. We have many measures yet to implement.
Mr. Stewart's second question, summarized:
"Since the war leadership is hopelessly incompetent and messed up, how are we supposed to go forward?"
I reject the premise that our leadership is hopelessly incompetent.
Mr. Stewart possibly intended his premise to be this:
"It is impossible for a democratic Iraqi government to succeed. How are we to go forward when there is no hope for success?"
This is all about the definition of success. Utopia does not exist, and never has existed.
How are timetables, or criticizing the President, less supportive of the troops than extending their tours of duty from 12 to 15 months, putting them in stop/loss(i.e. adding the extra 90 days), and not having Walter Reed be up to snuff?
this question is a classic of convolution.
Timetables, and irresponsible criticism of our war efforts, might contribute to the failure of the democratic Iraqi government.
Extending tours of duty, and substandard housing at Walter Reed, will not cause the democratic Iraqi government to fail.
There can be responsible criticism of our efforts. Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman have both leveled responsible criticism at our leadership - especially at Secretary Rumsfeld.
Re: Walter Reed:
the medical care is some of the best in the world. The housing problems are being corrected, by the VP, no less. Walter Reed is irrelevant to everything except cheap-shotting President Bush.
Re: extending tours of duty:
our military people signed up to serve. Possible extended tours of duty was part of their contract. It's tough, but it's not unfair.
This is Mr. Stewart's larger point about extended tours of duty:
terror and Sharia forces in and around Iraq are unworthy of further disturbing our military personnel's private lives.
Mr. Stewart and I disagree about the degree of danger and threat our nation faces.
**McCain now makes assertive points about our mission. McCain and Stewart argue over whether or not the troops believe in the mission. Stewart's passion is laudable, yet his arrogance is amazing. Even if Jon Stewart has visited Iraq - and maybe he has - I suspect Jon Stewart is a patriot - he nevertheless has spoken with a fraction of the number of troops and commanders McCain has spoken with. Stewart has never been briefed on our goals and successes and failures, and he doesn't have the military knowledge McCain has. Here, McCain looks knowledgable and assertive, and Stewart looks like an arrogant New York liberal comedian. The audience adoringly applauds Jon Stewart. They boo McCain, when McCain says our troops believe in the mission.**
Somewhere in the above, Stewart says 10,000 troops make no difference in Badhdad.
- the numbers are now closer to 25,000 troops.
- these are combat troops - not support troops. An important point.
- the number of American combat troops in Baghdad will now be almost tripled, and they will be fighting using proactive, counterinsurgency tactics. The few thousand combat troops we did have in Baghdad were only fighting to maintain stability. Big, BIG difference. This has never been tried in Baghdad by us. We have, for 4 years, simply hoped Baghdad would pacify itself, via enjoying new freedoms and a stronger economy.
- Fourth: Dependable Iraqi army forces are now in the fight in Baghdad. Big, BIG difference. This has never before been the case in Baghdad.
all I'm saying is you cannot look a soldier in the eye and say questioning the President is less supportive of you than extending your tour of duty an additional 3 months.
Let me try:
Soldier, I look you in the eye and say if Iraq's government can sustain itself, it will be a democratic blow to Islamism which will end up keeping America's children safer.
What's that, soldier? You say you've been saying the same thing, and that's exactly why you signed up to fight? Hmm. We better tell Jon Stewart.
What's that, soldier? You say irresponsible criticism of Pres. Bush emboldens our enemy, thus getting more American soldiers killed in Iraq? Hmm. We better tell Jon Stewart.
Somewhere in the exchange with McCain, Stewart calls the Bush Administration "almost criminal", to huge applause. I can't figure out what almost criminal action he is accusing the Bush Administration of, but that's okay. If I could figure it out, his statement would not be ad hominem, and that would shake the foundations of liberal discourse.
The audience laughs a ridiculing laugh at McCain, for doing no more than disagreeing with Stewart. McCain is being very polite. Though I'm not quoting him much, he is acquitting himself well.
Stewart is also being polite. It's just that his arguments are so riddled with false premises that it is difficult to find an argument which may be examined for either logic or fallacy.
I just want to say, the people I talk to realize we've got a [terrorism] problem, they just believe we are attacking the wrong target.
- Al Qaeda is in Iraq now. Is Al Qaeda the wrong target?
- Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Is Iran the wrong target?
The rightness or wrongness of the 2003 invasion has no bearing on what we should be doing in 2007.