Wednesday, November 30, 2005

For Those Who Said We Don't Have a Plan...

You can't get much more comprehensive than this:

Executive Summary

Helping the Iraqi People Defeat the Terrorists and Build an Inclusive Democratic State

Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages

Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.

Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.

Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.

Victory in Iraq is a Vital U.S. Interest

Iraq is the central front in the global war on terror. Failure in Iraq will embolden terrorists and expand their reach; success in Iraq will deal them a decisive and crippling blow.

The fate of the greater Middle East -- which will have a profound and lasting impact on American security -- hangs in the balance.

Failure is Not an Option

Iraq would become a safe haven from which terrorists could plan attacks against America, American interests abroad, and our allies.

Middle East reformers would never again fully trust American assurances of support for democracy and human rights in the region -- a historic opportunity lost.
The resultant tribal and sectarian chaos would have major consequences for American security and interests in the region.

The Enemy Is Diffuse and Sophisticated

The enemy is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists, and terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida. Distinct but integrated strategies are required to defeat each element.

Each element shares a common short-term objective -- to intimidate, terrorize, and tear down -- but has separate and incompatible long-term goals.
Exploiting these differences within the enemy is a key element of our strategy.

Our Strategy for Victory is Clear

We will help the Iraqi people build a new Iraq with a constitutional, representative government that respects civil rights and has security forces sufficient to maintain domestic order and keep Iraq from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. To achieve this end, we are pursuing an integrated strategy along three broad tracks, which together incorporate the efforts of the Iraqi government, the Coalition, cooperative countries in the region, the international community, and the United Nations.

The Political Track involves working to forge a broadly supported national compact for democratic governance by helping the Iraqi government:

Isolate enemy elements from those who can be won over to the political process by countering false propaganda and demonstrating to all Iraqis that they have a stake in a democratic Iraq;

Engage those outside the political process and invite in those willing to turn away from violence through ever-expanding avenues of participation; and

Build stable, pluralistic, and effective national institutions that can protect the interests of all Iraqis, and facilitate Iraq's full integration into the international community.

The Security Track involves carrying out a campaign to defeat the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency, developing Iraqi security forces, and helping the Iraqi government:

Clear areas of enemy control by remaining on the offensive, killing and capturing enemy fighters and denying them safe-haven;

Hold areas freed from enemy influence by ensuring that they remain under the control of the Iraqi government with an adequate Iraqi security force presence; and

Build Iraqi Security Forces and the capacity of local institutions to deliver services, advance the rule of law, and nurture civil society.

The Economic Track involves setting the foundation for a sound and self-sustaining economy by helping the Iraqi government:

Restore Iraq's infrastructure to meet increasing demand and the needs of a growing economy;

Reform Iraq's economy, which in the past has been shaped by war, dictatorship, and sanctions, so that it can be self-sustaining in the future; and

Build the capacity of Iraqi institutions to maintain infrastructure, rejoin the international economic community, and improve the general welfare of all Iraqis.

This Strategy is Integrated and its Elements are Mutually Reinforcing

Progress in each of the political, security, and economic tracks reinforces progress in the other tracks.

For instance, as the political process has moved forward, terrorists have become more isolated, leading to more intelligence on security threats from Iraqi citizens, which has led to better security in previously violent areas, a more stable infrastructure, the prospect of economic progress, and expanding political participation.

Victory Will Take Time

Our strategy is working: Much has been accomplished in Iraq, including the removal of Saddam's tyranny, negotiation of an interim constitution, restoration of full sovereignty, holding of free national elections, formation of an elected government, drafting of a permanent constitution, ratification of that constitution, introduction of a sound currency, gradual restoration of neglected infrastructure, the ongoing training and equipping of Iraqi security forces, and the increasing capability of those forces to take on the terrorists and secure their nation.

Yet many challenges remain: Iraq is overcoming decades of a vicious tyranny, where governmental authority stemmed solely from fear, terror, and brutality.
It is not realistic to expect a fully functioning democracy, able to defeat its enemies and peacefully reconcile generational grievances, to be in place less than three years after Saddam was finally removed from power.

Our comprehensive strategy will help Iraqis overcome remaining challenges, but defeating the multi-headed enemy in Iraq -- and ensuring that it cannot threaten Iraq's democratic gains once we leave -- requires persistent effort across many fronts.

Our Victory Strategy Is (and Must Be) Conditions Based

With resolve, victory will be achieved, although not by a date certain.

No war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one.

But lack of a timetable does not mean our posture in Iraq (both military and civilian) will remain static over time. As conditions change, our posture will change.

We expect, but cannot guarantee, that our force posture will change over the next year, as the political process advances and Iraqi security forces grow and gain experience.

While our military presence may become less visible, it will remain lethal and decisive, able to confront the enemy wherever it may organize.

Our mission in Iraq is to win the war. Our troops will return home when that mission is complete.

This is just the executive summary. The rest of the plan is much more detailed, without revealing anything that would be advantageous to our enemies.

I hope to see the President work through the holidays. While Congress is at home, he would be able to dominate the news cycle and continue to deliver this message.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Twelve Words

Being a Republican in Congress should be easier than they are making it out to be. Hugh Hewitt suggests twelve words for guiding any discussion or vote:

Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.

I wish my job were this easy.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Debunking the Bush Lied Lie

Read this, bookmark it, and bring it out everytime your liberal buddies start throwing around the Bush Lied rant:

"Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.

What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what...."

The Big Oil Scapegoat

There was quite a bit of press on this week's Senate hearings on the price of gas. I found this article, which had a good take on the whole thing. It also provided some prediction of the next industry that will get dragged in before the sound byte-centric group of bloviating politicians:

"You know you're at the hangover stage in any financial bender when the witch-hunters in Congress begin hauling in the victims for grilling. This is the situation on Capitol Hill this week as Congress vents its spleen on the captains of ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), BP (NYSE: BP), and others for the high crimes of financial success...

...It's pretty easy to point out the hypocrisy in Washington. You just need to wait for a senator to start speaking. But the underlying roots of this situation became clearer to me yesterday, after I read a fantastical discussion of the melodrama written by my old friend and fellow Fool Rob Aronen. In it, he asked our Senatorial witch-hunters a rhetorical question. Homebuilders like DR Horton (NYSE: DHI) and Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL) have been making healthy, if not record profits lately. (Banks and other lenders, I might add, have been doing pretty well, too.) His question: Why aren't they being dragged into the Star Chamber for their deeds...?

...Despite the lessons of the '70s and '80s, when gas got cheap in the '90s, we spent money on giant cars. When bank money got cheap in the noughts, we demanded the 4,000-square-foot estate; 50 miles from work.

It's only when the bills start coming in above our expectations that we begin to demand legislative answers. But as always, real solutions are right in front of our eyes for those who are Foolish enough to embrace them. Plan for the unexpected. Assume that your household expenses will rise. Live below your means. Change your behavior to avoid overexposing yourself to violent swings in gas, heating fuel, and interest expense. If you live in the free market through good and bad, then you're not likely to be a victim of its occasional swings."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I See A Theme Here

I've been posting about the calls for oil companies to "donate" or pay windfall taxes on their profits.

It seems to me that this:

...(Senator Charles) Grassley (R- IA, the chairman of Senate Finance Committee) is now on record as wanting (the rhetorical equivalent of “demanding”) that oil companies “donate” 10 percent of their profits to help poor Americans pay their heating bills. Grassley sent letters to oil companies outlining his request; letters he claims to have sent to “embarrass” the oil companies into contributing to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Embarrass? I don’t think so. The right word here would be “intimidate.” Grassley says “It’s not unreasonable to expect corporations with 50, 75 or 100 percent growth in earnings this quarter to contribute a mere 10 percent of those profits to fund programs that supplement LIHEAP. In those letters Grassley also asked that these oil companies report to him on their recent charitable contributions...

will lead to this:

...Twenty-five years ago, with gasoline prices at record highs and company profits "unconscionable" according to some, like-minded critics won the day in Congress and enacted a windfall profits tax. It was a disaster.

· It did not allow companies to charge world market prices for "old oil." So they could not spend money to rework oilfields; domestic production dwindled rapidly.
· It allowed them to charge market prices only for "new oil" from new areas. Companies had to bypass oilfields that they had discovered but not yet developed, and search (wildcat) in less likely places. Again, domestic production suffered.
· It allowed them to charge world market prices for imported oil. So the companies began to explore more in highly promising places overseas. Domestic production suffered; overseas exploration and development boomed.
· Critics complained that the companies were abandoning the US. One oil executive responded, "We're not moving out of the US; we're being thrown out."

Every subsequent study, including from the US Congress now entertaining the tax, showed that the era's price controls and windfall profits tax contributed greatly to our nation's increased reliance on foreign oil. Those policies did exactly the opposite of what they were intended to do. But without institutional memory, critics seem again ready to fall back on the old, failed policies and "do something" no matter what the result may be...

Read all of both of these articles.

A Summary of Iraq War Revisionist History

Today's OpinionJournal (registration required) has an excellent summary of the revisions the Democrats are trying to make of the events leading up to the war in Iraq:

...The indictment by Patrick Fitzgerald of Vice Presidential aide I. Lewis Libby has become their latest opening to promote this fiction, notwithstanding the mountains of contrary evidence. To wit:

In July 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan 500-page report that found numerous failures of intelligence gathering and analysis. As for the Bush Administration's role, "The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," (our emphasis).

The Butler Report, published by the British in July 2004, similarly found no evidence of "deliberate distortion," although it too found much to criticize in the quality of prewar intelligence.

The March 2005 Robb-Silberman report on WMD intelligence was equally categorical, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. . . .analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments. We conclude that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments."

Finally, last Friday, there was Mr. Fitzgerald: "This indictment's not about the propriety of the war, and people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who are--have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel."

In short, everyone who has looked into the question of whether the Bush Administration lied about intelligence, distorted intelligence, or pressured intelligence agencies to produce assessments that would support a supposedly pre-baked decision to invade Iraq has come up with the same answer: No, no, no and no.

...Everyone, that is, except Joseph Wilson IV. He first became the Democrats' darling in July 2003, when he published an op-ed claiming he'd debunked Mr. Bush's "16 words" on Iraqi attempts to purchase African yellowcake and that the Administration had distorted the evidence about Saddam's weapons programs to fit its agenda. This Wilson tale fit the "lied us into war" narrative so well that he was adopted by the John Kerry presidential campaign.

Only to be dropped faster than a Paris Hilton boyfriend after the Senate Intelligence and Butler reports were published. Those reports clearly showed that, while Saddam had probably not purchased yellowcake from Niger, the dictator had almost certainly tried--and that Mr. Wilson's own briefing of the CIA after his mission supported that conclusion. Mr. Wilson somehow omitted that fact from his public accounts at the time.

He also omitted to explain why the CIA had sent him to Niger: His wife, who worked at the CIA, had suggested his name for the trip, a fact Mr. Wilson also denied, but which has also since been proven. In other words, the only real support there has ever been for the "Bush lied" storyline came from a man who is himself a demonstrable liar. If we were Nick Kristof and the other writers who reported Mr. Wilson's facts as gospel, we'd be apologizing to our readers.

Yet, incredibly, Mr. Wilson has once again become the Democrats' favorite mascot because they want him as a prop for their "lied us into war" revival campaign. They must think the media are stupid, because so many Democrats are themselves on the record in the pre-Iraq War period as declaring that Saddam had WMD. Here is Al Gore from September 23, 2002, amid the Congressional debate over going to war: "We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

Or Hillary Rodham Clinton, from October 10, 2002: "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. . . ."

Or Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who is now leading the "Bush lied" brigades (from October 10, 2002): "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. . . .We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction." If Mr. Bush is a liar, what does the use of the phrase "unmistakable evidence" make Mr. Rockefeller? A fool?

The scandal here isn't what happened before the war. The scandal is that the same Democrats who saw the same intelligence that Mr. Bush saw, who drew the same conclusions, and who voted to go to war are now using the difficulties we've encountered in that conflict as an excuse to rewrite history. Are Republicans really going to let them get away with it?

Hat-tip: RealClearPolitics

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I'm Not The Only One...

...Wondering about hubbub surrounding oil company profits.

Over at Knowledge Problem, this post goes into more detail on why we should not tax windfall profits for oil companies.