Friday, January 12, 2007

In the Shadow of Vietnam

I wasn't surprised at all at the vitriol lobbed at the Presidents proposals. Though I found it especially entertaining to hear the Dems state that they had no obligation to propose alternatives, which is funny considering their perpetual screeching for phased cut-and-run. I also agree with McCain:
As Sen. John McCain put it, "I believe those who are calling for withdrawal have the obligation to tell us what we do in the region when it descends into chaos..."
But that won't be happening either.

The congressional hearings yesterday were quite interesting with the Vietnam historical floundering that went with Bush's statements regarding Iran and Syria's interference in Iraq.
Sen. Joseph Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Bush did not have the authority to send U.S. troops on cross-border raids.

"I believe the present authorization granted the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that, and he does need congressional authority to do that," Biden, D-Delaware, said during a Thursday hearing on Iraq. "I just want to set that marker." (Watch heated exchanges between Rice and several senators Video)

Rice did not directly reply to Biden's remark, but she said the country expects Bush "to do what is necessary to protect our forces." Biden sent a follow-up letter to the White House after Thursday's hearing, calling on Bush to explain his position.

In his Wednesday night speech announcing the deployment of more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq, Bush blamed Iraq's neighbors for stoking the violence there and accused Iran in particular of "providing material support for attacks on American troops." (Watch how the plan will work Video)

"We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq," he said.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, said Rice's responses had echoes of the debate over the Vietnam War, when the Nixon administration denied U.S. troops were conducting raids into neighboring Cambodia to stop the flow of weapons to South Vietnam's communist insurgency. Hagel, a veteran of that war, called Bush's plan "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

"When our government lied to the American people and said we didn't cross the border going into Cambodia, in fact we did. I happen to know something about that, as do some on this committee," he said. "Madame Secretary, when you set in motion the kind of policy that the president is talking about here, it's very, very dangerous."
Funny the prognosticating that is going on. The immediate assumption has been that US troops will pick a fight with Iran and then cross the border. Though that is a far stretch from what the President said. It's even more entertaining that Hagel postures the Cambodian incursions as being blunders. In that war the military actions into Cambodia weren't a mistake at all. The lying about it most certainly was, but that is a completely different thing.

The comparisons of Vietnam/Cambodia to Iraq/Iran are off the mark. First, the Cambodian incursions were against NVA and Cambodian forces in a fairly limited region. The area was full jungle and very difficult to monitor. Monitoring of the Iraq/Iran border are very spread out, but for the most part wide open. Most of the military supplies would be going to Baghdad, and seeing that the distances between the capital and the border are fairly large, detection and intervention will be somewhat simpler. Additional time and clear lines of site will assist in detection.

Of course, the good Senators don't want to bother looking at the Iranian interference. That was happening in another hearing.
Iran has exploited the war in Iraq and a proxy fight with Israel to emerge as a more powerful and confident foe of the United States and is casting a growing "shadow" of influence across the Middle East, the nation's top intelligence official testified Thursday.

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on national security threats, National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte and other officials expressed a new level of concern over Iran's capabilities and intentions, saying the Islamic regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons was only one element of its increasingly aggressive behavior.

"Iran's influence is rising in ways that go beyond the menace of its nuclear program," said Negroponte, ticking off several developments that had emboldened the country in the last year.

Among them, he said, was an increase in oil revenue that allowed greater funding of terrorist activities, and a belief in Iran and Lebanon that Hezbollah — the Tehran-sponsored militant group based in Lebanon — was the victor in heavy fighting with Israel last summer.

Iran "regards its ability to conduct terrorist operations abroad as a key element of its national security strategy," Negroponte said, adding that Hezbollah, which the United States classifies as a terrorist organization, "could decide to conduct attacks against U.S. interests if it feels its survival — or that of Iran — is threatened."

His testimony comes at a crucial juncture in the long-strained relationship between the United States and Iran, as the Bush administration struggles for ways to derail Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and curb its interference in the Iraq war. Iran's Shiite Muslim government is a strong supporter of Iraqi Shiite militias involved in sectarian violence.

Indeed, U.S. forces took six Iranian nationals into custody in Iraq on Thursday, while lawmakers in Washington used three separate Capitol Hill hearings to express their concerns that President Bush's plan to deploy 21,500 more troops to Iraq in an effort to stabilize the country could lead to a military confrontation with Iran.
But I'm sure the Senators still believe we should negotiate with them to stabilize the region. In fact, Sen. Webb proved himself the imbecile very quickly by just such a statement.
Sen. Jim Webb, a freshman Democrat who has urged a broader diplomatic approach to reach a solution in Iraq, gave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a suggestion for Bush to consider: personal involvement with Tehran.

"It would be a bold act for George W. Bush to get on an airplane and go to Tehran in the same manner that President Nixon did" to China more than 30 years ago, Webb maintained at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

I don't recall China being run by a theocracy that has openly called for the destruction of the west. They were a belligerent in Vietnam, as was the USSR and several other countries. Then again, they weren't supporting terrorism in various diverse locations either. Maybe Webb should go speak with the Mullahs, since he obviously has more sympathy for them than he does the US.

I wonder how much louder the screeching will become.

You can see more details of the Political tantrums on the President's plan here.

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