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Straight Talk

Two politicians famous for their straight talk came to senate hearings yesterday to express themselves. Straight-shooter Senator John McCain shot at Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. as though the general were a clay pigeon. While McCain was trying to look presidential by insulting Casey, Zbigniew Brzezinski was doing his best to picture to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the horrors that the current Iraq War is likely to lead to.

This is what McCain said to the highly decorated general:

I question seriously the judgment that was employed in your execution of your responsibilities in Iraq. And we have paid a very, very heavy price in American blood and treasure because of what is now agreed to by literally everyone as a failed policy.

Now, I know nothing about generals and what they do, and I have no idea whether Casey deserves good marks or bad marks. But I don't think that what McCain said deserves to be called straight talk. It's insulting talk. Nobody should be talked to this way in public. This is the sort of thing CEOs and managers always do in private.

And McCain, of all people, is denigrating the general because of a failed policy. Military people do not make policy. Doesn't McCain know this? Presidents and senators - yes, senators - make policy. Bush made this policy and McCain supported it enthusiastically. He voted to authorize war and ever since has been more militaristic in his pronouncements than the president has been. He is still screaming to continue this failed policy. Now that the war is not going well, he is pointing at General Casey.

This is called a straight shooter? No way. If McCain were a straight shooter, he would point one finger at the president and another finger at himself.

Now, Zbigniew Brzezinski is what I call a straight-shooter. Here is what he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and this is consistent with everything he has said since the start of the quagmire im Iraq:

If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a "defensive" U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

McCain is upset because Casey did not "win" and he hopes Petraeus will "win." Brzezinski is upset because he is fairly sure there is no way to "win." The longer we stay, he thinks, the more likely we are to cause a broad war with the Middle East.

We MUST find a way to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. Let's stop fiddling around with non-binding resolutions. Bush is asking for $245 billion for this year and next year to fight in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The Democrats should do some straight shooting and reduce funding for next year's Iraq-War budget.

Posted by Paul Siegel at February 2, 2007 5:21 PM
Comment #206409

Casey deserves the criticism. He was chosen for the JCS precisely for his “team player” reputation. He could be counted upon to go along with Rumsfeld, Cheney and others. Contrast this with General Shinseki, who publicly contradicted Wolfowitz and stated we would need hundreds of thousands of troops to occupy Iraq. Casey played good soldier. He climbed to the highest position in the military by doing so. Now he reaps the consequences.

Agreed, McCain is hardly the one to point fingers. He and other Republicans walked in lock step with the Bush administration for six years. It has been a disaster. Now they are scattering, like rats deserting a sinking ship.

Unfortunately for all of us, the sinking ship is the ship of state, and we will all pay the price for Republican policies.

The release of the Iraq NIE was delayed four months, until after the election. The analysis and recommendations are already out of date for the American public. However, it tells all of us what we aleady know. The situation is bad and it is likely to get worse, regardless of what we do. The only question is how fast…

Posted by: phx8 at February 2, 2007 7:03 PM
Comment #206410

Good analysis on McCain and Casey.

Paul Siegel,
I agree. Let’s leave. It’s not making us safer. We’ve been there long enough.
It’s not right to do this to our U.S. troops.

  • Most Iraqis polled want us to leave (who can blame them?). 82% of Iraqis “strongly oppose” the continuing occupation, and 45% of Iraqis feel attacks against coalition troops are justified! The battle for hearts and minds has already been lost!
  • A poll of U.S. troops in Iraq (released by the Zogby International polling firm) finds that 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should leave Iraq.
  • In March of 2006, 25% of U.S. troops said the U.S. troops should leave Iraq immediately.
  • Our troops deserve better. It’s not right to subject our troops to danger for nation-building and baby-sitting civil wars. Iraq will have their civil war with or without us.

The cost will be enormous (in terms of lives of U.S. and coalition troops, and Iraqis, and monetary cost).

Posted by: d.a.n at February 2, 2007 7:28 PM
Comment #206412

Reading Brzezinski’s words is like breathing fresh air after being cooped up in a stale room for a week. What he says is so plainly correct and what the Bush administration and its bootlicks hew to is so plainly in error, I’m flabbergasted anyone with sentience doesn’t see it.

Posted by: mental wimp at February 2, 2007 7:31 PM
Comment #206433

We must not leave Iraq. I will tell you why:

1. Kirkuk - The Kurds want it but everybody else does not. Despite being portrayed as an Arab/Kurd issue by our idiotic press, there are significant numbers of Turkmans and others living there. They face extermination if we leave. Turkey will also invade if Kirkuk is obtained. The Shiites will almost certainly dispute Kurdish Independence. Hence, war all around.

2. Jordan - A barely stable Stable State dependent on Iraqi Oil to survive. Why Iraqi Oil? Because Jordan can’t afford Market Prices and MUST buy Oil at a 20% discount!!! There are massive numbers of Palestinians and Iraqis now living there. It won’t take much to topple them.

3. Saudi Arabia - Another barely stable State. Home and Protector of Mecca. They can’t ALLOW a Shiite Iraq to exist!!! A Shiite Iraq presents an existential threat to Mecca and the Family of Saud’s power. Did I also mention a Shia population in Saudi Arabia?

4. Israel - Nuclear Iran? Collapsed Jordan and Lebanon?

5. Iran - WE CANNOT ALLOW IRAN THE NUKE!!! To do so would force an Arms Race in the Middle East. We must attack Iran and prevent this at all cost!!!

Posted by: Juan dela Cruz at February 3, 2007 12:07 AM
Comment #206454

Arms race in the mid east? Well sorry Juan, that race has long been run. Israel was the first to cross the line. Then India and Pakistan. It was all right with your guys (the US ) for Israel to have them. The thing is, as you rightly point out, if your potential enemy has them, then you gotta have them too, and it was Israel, with at least the US turning a blind eye, that fired the starters pistol on this race. The genie is out of the bottle, and he’s famously reluctant to pop back in.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at February 3, 2007 10:54 AM
Comment #206462

Lets see it takes more then 30 days thats right count them 30 whole days to fix what bush and co. did in six years to screw up. The troop surge as they call it was funded in the last congress. Money is already in the pipeline so it will take some time. And it looks like Republicans less the neo-cons see this war as a waste of fine americans and money.

Posted by: Jeff at February 3, 2007 11:51 AM
Comment #206641

Now McCain is saying that those in congress who voted for the resolution against the surge are being intellectually dishonest. It’s not okay to voice one’s opposition to policy if you’re in congress, now.
I know that McCain became full of dookie at some point, but I’m not sure exactly when it happened. There was a time that I respected him. Now, he’s just another wingnut idiot who has forgotten everything that he was supposed to remember.
So, now when I read any article about anything McCain says, I just say “yeah; whatever” to myself and ignore him. He is no longer relevant. Just one more bozo on the bus.

Posted by: Cole at February 4, 2007 10:32 PM
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