Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bush is hemorrhaging support...

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This was George Bush today at an address to members of the National Guard in Idaho. In spite of the growing consensus that Cindy Sheehan has been politically ineffective in her protest at the President's Crawford ranch, garnering little respect from the American electorate as a consequence of her extreme world views... the political strategy employed above explicitly suggests otherwise.

What you can see is an initiated attempt to contextualize Sheehan's aspersion, that Bush has recklessly risked and lost the lives of thousands of US soldiers, and worse, betrayed their families in the pursuit of war, by contrasting it, quite fairly, with the images of those families who stand firmly and passionately behind the President. This staged event makes it clear that Karl Rove and other White House political aides recognize that the situation in Iraq is now beginning to comprimise the Administration's public support. War is no longer George W.'s political gravy train.

The latest polling data on the President's approval ratings are stark:
Rasmussen, 8/21 - 8/23, APPROVE: 45%. DISAPPROVE 54%
American Research Group, 8/18 - 8/21, APPROVE: 36%, DISAPPROVE 58%
Harris, 8/9 - 8/16, APPROVE 40%, DISAPPROVE 58%
SurveyUSA, 8/12 - 8/14, APPROVE 41%, DISAPPROVE 55%
CNN/USA Today/Gallup, 8/8 - 8/11, APPROVE 45%, DISAPPROVE 51%

It should be noted to mitigate these results that the President won his second term in office with an approval rating of in between 48-50%, and a disapproval rating of around 45%. It should also be said that the ARG polling result is highly suspect. A 36% approval rating is verging on the catastrophic, and despite the fact that in June and July, ARG's data was broadly in line other polling organizations... I am convinced these latest figures must be some kind of mistake.

And yet, even removing the ARG poll, and contrasting the figures with President Clinton's Approval Ratings from his second term in office, you begin to grasp the electoral plight of the current Administration. Clinton's approval ratings hovered on average between 58-63% throughout his second term, roughly 12-14 points ahead of George W. leading up to an election that the Democrats proceded to lose.

My biggest concern at this time is that the Democrats' overall exasperation with the war's progress will simply drive the party to define itself in terms of a dramatic withdrawal agenda, reflective of popular opinion. A position that will surely crumble under the scrutiny of a General Election. One of the contenders for the Democratic Nomination, Senator Russ Feingold, is already leading the way. And yet, the answer to Iraq's woes is not withdrawal at this time. Withdrawal would simply leave the nation on the verge of civil war, as competing religious factions confront their divergent views on how their society should evolve, as demonstrated by the present difficulties faced in implementing an Iraqi constitution. Their primitive security capabilities and disharmony will leave their battle to confront the terrorist insurgency a perilous one, potentially frought with decades of violence and infighting. How can anyone ethically justify leaving Iraq in complete turmoil likes this?

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The answer to Iraq's problem, in my opinion, resides in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546. The UN resolution which endorsed the Iraqi interim government and called on all nations to offer financial and military assistance in the rebuilding effort. And yet, nothing of note has materialized from the world community. It is of urgent importance that the efforts in Iraq be internationalized. This would undermine the widespread perceived impression of a US Occupation in the middle east, and it would deprive the terrorist insurgency of their political masquerade, battling against that "Occupation."

Two things need to be addressed. Firstly, the idea that the will does not exist in NATO, or the United Nations to provide this type of assistance in Iraq. After all, the trends point in the opposite direction, with Spanish troops having been pulled out in the aftermath of the Madrid bombing, and their General Election. But, are we really focusing on creating the incentives for global participation in Iraq? Are we really doing everything that we might to entice other nations to shoulder some of the responsibility?

John Kerry correctly stated in October 2004, "(George Bush) should offer potential troop contributors specific but critical roles in training Iraqi security personnel and in securing Iraqi borders. He should give other countries a stake in Iraq's future by encouraging them to help develop Iraq's oil resources and by letting them bid on contracts instead of locking them out of the reconstruction process. Now, is this more difficult today? You bet it is. It's more difficult today because the president hasn't been doing it from the beginning."

This should be a prideless endeavor because so much is at stake: the lives of American soldiers, British soldiers, Iraqi civilians, the potential for Civil War, and further instability in the region. I ask you of all the potential remedies available, to continue on this present course, in the hope that an Iraqi Security force can be established to maintain civil order... or to withdraw and leave Iraq in complete chaos... of all these remedies, with an open mind, can someone explain to me why an internationalized rebuilding effort in Iraq isn't clearly the best possible solution available to us right now?

The second thing that needs to be addressed is that many who did not support the war, I know, find such a discourse infuriating. "How did this happen? This was a mistake! Someone should be made to pay for the innocent dead!" are all valid, if not entirely comprehensive appraisals of the situation. But, at least in the Democratic party, we cannot afford to be seen to let such things define the policy platform we stand for. Because the most important thing for the troops in harms way is not the impeachment of the President... it's not calling him a liar, and elaborating Ad Nauseum about Neo-Con conspiracies... the most important thing at this time is the future of Iraq, and the potential for a better way forward. Let the effective Peace Keeping operations that have worked so successfully around the world, maligned by George Bush as Nation Building in 2000, and manned by Nato and UN forces... be a legacy of peace that eventually we can no longer ignore.

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16 comments:

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

I’ve discussed this on some other political sites I post on , http://politicalnotio.blogspot.com/, being one.
I opposed the war, even in high school. That having been said we need to go to it now, garner help from everywhere, massive amounts of help, as much as we can get, spend as much money as we can , send as many troops as we can( we need more). We need to get the Iraqis trained and stable and we need to go full out to do this and then get out. I’m as liberal as they come usually but at this time I can’t see us leaving , we have to stay, fix the problems that I believe we somewhat caused and finish the fight for democracy as best we can. We didn’t go there for the right reason but we can’t leave yet.

AnthonyLemons said...

voted for ya in battle....good luck.

Graham said...

I couldn't agree with you more Alice. The implications are so grave if we just walk away, or cut and run precipitously to save political face. That's why, IMO, the pressure from Feingold, and other's on the left shouldn't be for Bush to withdraw troops at the earliest available opportunity, but to reach out to the rest of the world to recognize that the well being and the potential success of Iraq is a reality that affects everybody. In terms of immigration, security, and freedom and Democracy for people in that part of the world... For a US legacy that isn't tainted by Civil War and violence, but by something close to a vibrant freedom and prosperity that Iraq's neighbours look to with envious eyes. The US shouldn't shoulder the burden of peace anywhere in the world in isolation... irrespective of this Administration's maddening approach to world affairs that has exacerbated and caused this state of affairs.

+ Thank you Anthony, is it unethical for me to say I'll go vote for you now ;)? Is that like voting fraud?

Thanks for the comment :).

Chromatius said...

Internationalisation? For as long as the occupation is nothing but a cover for theft of resources and destruction of the Iraqi polity and infrastructure to ensure Israeli regional dominance, and both are categorically true, no one else except the deluded or already-implicated will want to be involved. Stand up and take a bow Tony B. Liar. Even an obvious (but less deluded) criminal like Berlusconi is backing away.

Why should anyone in ther lands sacfrifice anything to support that world-view? Your leaders certainly don't care about the death of your soldiers, except as it impacts public opinion. So why should we sacfrifice lives, money and goodwill to save a few American lives and a bit of American embarrassment?

Best outcome - impeachment, commissions of inquiry (US and international), war crimes trials, investigations into foreign and commercial influences on political behaviour, and a process of 'de-republikudisation' of the American polity and political system. Even better, impose a long period non-militarism, as was done in Japan.

Not very likely.

Actually the best outcome may be to completely dismantle the US into smaller discrete elements, on the basis the federal state is the outcome of a long series of crimes, including the Civil War, American Indian genocide, the appropriation of Indian (and other) territories.

Extremely unlikely. But if presented to them, I think a lot of people in other countries would like the idea.

Longstreet said...

Understand, My Brit friend, President Bush isn't running for anything! He is a leader. Leaders get a lot of heat. He doesn't mind the heat. He is intent on completeing the mission. It is not important that the American electorate agrees with him, or not. "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"

"Longstreet"

Chris said...

In large part I agree with you here. I do have to maybe side-step your analysis of Sheehan and what you call her ineffectiveness. I agree that what she's doing will not win the war. I do not support her demands at all. I support her right to do what she's doing, but not her demands. But I do think she is drawing attention back to the war and the sacrifices that are being made. If she's extreme, then oh well, so is Bush.

Also, I think calling for the international community is a must and should have been done at the beginning. For the Dems to call for international help now, I do not think it will help them one bit. And with all do respect, the Dems have no power to make such happen, that power rests solely with the Repubs and the president, who of which has already giving the rest of the world the finger. I just don't think it's realistic to think that an international force will move in to Iraq. We broke it, now we fix it.

And to be quite honest, Americans are way too proud to let someone come in and fix their mistakes.

I am liking this site.

Thanks for the space.

Graham said...

Hey Chromatius,

I enjoyed reading what you wrote. But, I do strongly disagree with you. The perceived injustice of this war doesn't change anything in Iraq. It doesn't change the fact that the people there deserve better than what they have now, and it doesn't change that they deserve better than what they had under Saddam Hussein. It doesn't change that it is our responsibility to do something about it. You can call for impeachments, and ICC tribunals, and question the merits to war to your hearts content...

But, while you do so the situation in Iraq can't simply be avoided. Somehow a way forward must be found.

And by the way, the US is the most amazing beacon of hope, freedom, and liberty on earth, and where it not for their strength, that you suggest should be "broken up" the western world, including yourself, would probably be in locked in throes of oppression, facism, and communism. It's easy to forget WW2 and the Cold War in ur assessment of US foreign policy.

Longstreet, I'm a political guy. I care about the politcal implication because I adore the process of democracy, and the platform it provides for us to make a difference. Be it with a vote, or campaigning, or getting involved in other ways. But, my comments about Iraq weren't simply about the political implication of Iraq, it's that regardless of what Bush wants to do, the situation in Iraq merits international involvement.

Hey MJ,

The Dems have more power than you think. To offer a powerful alternative strategy to winning this war that could be taken seriously would put pressure on the Administration. And there is an election in 2008 by which time I don't expect Iraq wil be free from its current turmoil. The Americans are rightly proud, but you can't generalize. Many in the US understand the merits of multilateralism... after all that was Kerry's platform in 2004. It doesn't require a humiliating retreat, much can be accomplished by simply re-organzing the rebuilding effort to incentivize, financially, the involvement of other nations.

I think right now it would be a ver worthy cause.

Thanks for all your comments.

IRAN AZADI said...

The most important thing right now should NOT be the future of Iraq. It should be Osama Bin Laden.

IRAN AZADI

Graham said...

To quote what you say in your link Amir:

Amir wrote:
Iraqis may have been "freed from the regime of a
brutal dictator," as our own brutal dictator likes to
repeat ad nauseum, but they are unable to live a life
under our occupation. If I were an Iraqi, I'd fight
against the Americans too. I'd fight against anybody
who invaded our country.

I think it's exactly opinions like this, that completely misprepresent the malicious intent of the terrorist insurgency... that romantacize the beheadings and suicide bombings as some kind noble cause for freedom, that would hold absolutely no water at all if it were Nato and UN forces trying to rebuild and bring stability to Iraq as opposed to those with a US flag.

Thanks for your comment.

Universal Soldier said...

I totally agree with your post but I can't think of a single country that would have what I would call the moral courage to get involved.

Graham said...

I agree.. that's I think we should try and create financial incentives to appeal to them cynically :). But, I recognize I am being somewhat idealistic... which I have a tendency to do... the entire climate of the operation in Iraq would be required to change to acquire more international particpation.

Chris said...

Graham, true enough. But the Dems do lack the power to set policy, which is the power to dictate events. Even if all the Dems agreed on something, which is rare in it's own right, they do not have enough votes to do much about it. Unless they do go to the people and start a movement and demand a change in course and leadership. That right now seems very unlikely. I agree that an international force in Iraq would greatly change things. But who would send the force? What other countries are available to help? Trying to get the Dems in line is hard enough. Trying to get the EU all on the same page is nearly impossible.

I do agree with what you are saying, I just think it's unlikely.

Ranting Tommy said...

Iraq will only continue to deteriorate if we stay. However bad it will get when we leave, it will be that much worse the longer we stay.

Getting out now and giving support from afar is the best we can do. It's not 'cutting and running', it's realize that our presence in Iraq is what is fueling the insurgency.

NYgirl said...

I know that the everyone is taking to polls to mean that support for the Iraq war in deteriorating, however, I have a slightly different analysis of it.

Now you know I'm a right-wing nut job :-) who is very supportive of our efforts in Iraq, so naturally, I should be thrilled with W, right? Wrong. Because, he has done nothing to address the illegal immigration problem & he is spending like a Democrat.

If some pollester were to ask me if I approve of the way the President is handling things, I would give a resounding no. The problem is, President Bush & Karl Rove abandoned the base that voted them in once they got to office in order to try to win over the Democrats.

jane said...

It's so hard for me anymore, just to finish an article or listen to a story about Iraq. I don't even bother with the debates at home about it. It's not that I care which side feels they're right, I've reregistered as "I decline to state my political party" and I do.
But it makes me sick because while all this political bs & party fighting & politicians using parents of dead soldiers, more soldiers are dying.
As long as the imaginary dog keeps chasing it's tail, none of them really have to focus on this until '08 and heck, by then gay rights will be brought back into the limelight again. As more & more soldiers die. Our young, men & women. God bless & protect them all.

Graham said...

I just turned on Air America online and Mike Malloy began by saying "Clinton was not a Democrat," that he damaged the country, and that he didn't want Conservatives to listen to his show... he wanted normal people to listen instead. This can't be the tone of the Democratic party trying to reach out to a larger portion of the electorate, besides the fact it's idiotically stupid. Makes me so angry that we have these guys parotting Hannity and Limbaugh now.

Anyways, back on topic:

I agree it's unlikely. It would not be unlikely if we had a Democratic President IMO. When you see the role the UN plays, in countries all over the world, in West Africa, in Afghanistan, in Eastern Europe... this is the role of the United Nations, and they are much better at reconciling situations like Iraq than the way the Administration is going about it.

Hey Tommy, firstly, withdrawing from Iraq is more complicated than simply withdrawing troops. Iraq's welfare depends on foriegn investment, international trade, stability and civil order. I don't understand how you can justify withdrawing after making this intervention... you can't simply leave Iraq to disintegrate into civil war. Regardless of your opinion on the war, you can't avoid the reality of the situation there from the safe vantage of your moral assessments. The reality of Iraq is a situation we are responsible for, and must deal with.

Hey my right wing nut-job buddy :),

I definately think you accurately reflect the reasons why some Conservatives aren't 100% supportive of Bush. Those two issues, spending, and immigration, are the major criticisms Conservative friends of mine made about Bush at the last election. But, the degree of disaffection, almost 60% disapproval rating in some polls, is undoubtedly an opportunity for the Democrats to seize the initiative over the course of the next three years. We will have to see what happens.

Hey Jane,
The only way to stop soldiers from dying IMO is to bring stability to the situation in Iraq. And, on our present course, I don't see that happening for some time.

Thanks for all your comments :)