Patterico's Pontifications

11/28/2007

A Predictable Response from Nancy Pelosi and the White House Press to Good News from Iraq

Filed under: Media Bias,Politics,War — DRJ @ 9:17 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

In Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Dana Perino introduced General Lute, the Assistant to the President for Iraq and Afghanistan, to discuss the signing of a US-Iraq Declaration of Principles. President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki signed the Declaration in a video teleconference Monday morning.

General Lute described the Declaration as a non-binding agenda designed to guide the US and Iraq into a long-term agreement governing any future US presence in and/or assistance to Iraq:

“Today’s agreement is not binding, but rather it’s a mutual statement of intent that will be used to frame our formal negotiations in the course of the upcoming year. It’s not a treaty, but it’s rather a set of principles from which to begin formal negotiations. Think of today’s agreement as setting the agenda for the formal bilateral negotiations that will take place in the course of ’08.

Let me just outline the importance of this document. First of all, I think it’s important to the people of Iraq. It signals a commitment of both their government and the United States to an enduring relationship based on mutual interests. The basic message here should be clear: Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own; that’s very good news, but it won’t have to stand alone.”

Reactions to this agreement were mixed, ranging from Don Surber’s “We Won” to this statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

“President Bush’s agreement with the Iraqi government confirms his willingness to leave office with a U.S. Army tied down in Iraq and stretched to the breaking point, with no clear exit strategy from Iraq.

“The President should take responsibility for his Iraq policy rather than expect the American people or the next Admisitration [sic] to bear the consequences of his mistakes. The President can do that by working with Democrats who are fighting every day to bring our troops home responsibly, honorably, safely and soon.”

The truth probably lies somewhere in between Surber’s and Pelosi’s views but Surber is a lot closer than Pelosi. Nevertheless, while it may be difficult to predict where Iraq will be in a year, the White House press corp’s questions were predictable and pathetic. The following are selected questions from the press conference, and my summary of General Lute’s responses appears in brackets following each question:

Q “Is there any precedent for this in history? I mean, there wasn’t anything like this after Korea or Vietnam or any other kind of American engagement.”

[The US has been a party to a long-term agreement with Korea and is a party to bilateral agreements with 100 other nations.]

Q “How can any nation make a deal under occupation and not feel coerced? And anyway, they don’t really have a sort of government there at all.”

[A declaration is not something that must be voted on but, nevertheless, all major Iraqi leaders agreed to it and it was read to, discussed and generally agreed to by the council of representatives.]

Q “Is this a facade for the Middle East conference, so it doesn’t wave this big cloud of our being in Iraq?”

[The declaration is part of a process that started August 26 and has no relation to what's going on in Annapolis.]

Q “You mentioned the size and the shape or the scope, stuff like that. Will this contain time lines or goals for the withdrawal of troops?”

[That's not part of the declaration but it will be part of the negotiations and "all these things are on the negotiating table."]

Q “General, will the White House seek any congressional input on this? … Is the purpose of avoiding the treaty avoiding congressional input?”

[Negotiations like this are handled by the State Department and are not subject to Congressional approval. There are about a 100 similar agreements between the US and other nations and the vast majority are not treaties.]

The White House transcript didn’t identify the questioners but it’s not hard to guess who may have asked these questions.

H/T Instapundit.

– DRJ

41 Responses to “A Predictable Response from Nancy Pelosi and the White House Press to Good News from Iraq”

  1. with no clear exit strategy from Iraq

    My recent resolution not to talk dirty on this site prevents me from some extremely graphic mockery of the kinds of “exit strategy” Nancy Pelosi needs to engage in. If I may be allowed some hints: It would involve her head and another part of her anatomy.

    nk (09a321)

  2. “You mentioned the size and the shape or the scope, stuff like that.” Quite a wordsmith there. Columbia S of J I bet. Indoctrinated, no education necessary.

    Bill M (ee2ae1)

  3. They really don’t get much of education in journalism school, do they? These are petty, trivial and lacking of any understanding of history and diplomacy much less military assistance and deployment. Pretty pathetic – no wonder fewer and fewer Americans are getting their news via the printed media and the television set.

    Jack is Back! (ee1cb2)

  4. These are petty, trivial and lacking of any understanding of history and diplomacy much less military assistance and deployment.

    This could apply to most high school/college grads regardless of discipline.

    no wonder fewer and fewer Americans are getting their news via the printed media and the television set.
    Interest in hard news has been in decline for a couple of decades now. I think this is the area that is of most concern, not the “liberal bias” in the press.

    Bush has a lousy PR team and they have not served him well at all in prepping him for press conferences and the like. The US won the war in 03 and his people should have been framing the message that way all along. An honest assessment similar to “yes this is an occupation but like all other US occupations it is not about taking land or resources nor will not be forever…”
    he would have done much better IMHO.

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  5. Jack, that’s because they are more like a public relations firm, focussed entirely on impressions here and now rather than anything as dreary as definable knowledge.

    Assistant Village Idiot (77b476)

  6. “Is the purpose of avoiding the treaty avoiding congressional input?””

    [Negotiations like this are handled by the State Department and are not subject to Congressional approval.]

    The ignorance of this question and the oh so obvious inference of it should be a great embarrassment to the journo asking it… but then I see #3 above seems to have adeptly explained why there is no such reaction.

    Dana (b4a26c)

  7. puppetmaster makes deal with puppet! skeptics slagged by bushloving bloggers! skeptics laugh, prepare to go salmon fishing!!!

    assistant devil's advocate (5258b5)

  8. It went bad when they decided to be “journalists” instead of reporters and tried to pass themselves off as “objective”. There ain’t no such critter, as Grampa used to say.

    I don’t mind reporters having (and even stating, provided they note it as one) opinions on the news they report, but please don’t insult my intelligence with that objectivity clap-trap.

    mojo (8096f2)

  9. [A declaration is not something that must be voted on but, nevertheless, all major Iraqi leaders agreed to it and it was read to, discussed and generally agreed to by the council of representatives.]

    Does the set of “major Iraqi leaders” also include Al-Sadr? My understanding is that one downside of the tribal strategy that has been successful in reducing violence is that it has also legitimized various tribal leaders with a concomitant weakening of the legitimacy of the central government. My fear is that this declaration may be little more than just the central government patting itself on the back.

    Moops (444e9b)

  10. puppetmaster makes deal with puppet!

    Funny. If we’re the “puppets,” then why don’t we force the “political progress” you ignorant clowns were whining about recently?

    Don’t worry, you don’t have an answer as the lack of substance is apparent in your post.

    The Ace (12e3ad)

  11. Should be “if we’re the puppetmaster” above ^

    The Ace (12e3ad)

  12. It may be that most high school and college grads have little grasp of history, the military, “and stuff like that” but then, most high school and college grads aren’t in the business of questioning the military about the progress of a war.

    JohnG (1075fd)

  13. I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

    Politicians make no difference.

    We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/11/halliburton200711

    Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

    There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

    The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

    So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

    This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

    The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

    For more details see:

    http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2007/02/warped-priorities.html

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/16076312/the_great_iraq_swindle/print

    Ken Larson (55ed8d)

  14. …prepare to go salmon fishing!!!

    Assume you’ll do that only with a camera…only a warmongering conservative could possibly want to hurt one of them.

    Old Coot (68bdf6)

  15. There is no conspiracy

    Hilarious. That’s like the nut on the subway saying “I’m not crazy”

    The Ace (12e3ad)

  16. #12
    The point is that our education system turns out some pretty naive people. IF the majority aren’t that aware of these issues, why should the journalists worry too much about putting any effort into asking more meaningful questions? Even if they did who will really care?

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  17. Any treaty would have to be approved by Parliament and in May 144 members out of 275 called for a phased withdrawal of US troops; and a BBC poll in September had 47 percent of Iraqis wanting the U.S. out immediately.

    “All major Iraqi leaders agreed to it” No
    “We won” Laughable.

    blah (fb88b3)

  18. “How can any nation make a deal under occupation and not feel coerced?

    Evidently these dolts (“journalists”)don’t know that General MacArthur’s staff wrote the Japanese constitution because the Japanese couldn’t get their act together.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  19. VOR #16:

    [W]hy should the journalists worry too much about putting any effort into asking more meaningful questions? Even if they did who will really care?

    You and I care about these kinds of questions and answers and there are lots of people like us who care, too. The bottom line is that these are questions asked by the White House press. They are supposed to be some of the most experienced reporters in America and they cover one of the most important venues in the world. At that level, the reporters are professionals who should easily be able to ask serious, knowledgeable questions – especially since they work for networks and newspapers that have access to experts that can help them understand the issues.

    VOR, if we take your point one step further, maybe part of the reason some people don’t care is because journalists today do such a poor job providing us with information.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  20. #4, I concur that a different (and clearer) narrative on the status of Iraq should have been presented from the start. Instead of blithely accepting the defacto disintegration of Iraq’s Ba’athist government, when we took Baghdad we should have rounded up the most senior officials we could (e.g. a senior ranking General or even Baghdad Bob, if necessary), sat them down and concluded a formal surrender. As it is, there has always been a nebulous spectre of who won, who lost and where we are on that scale.

    Security and peace have always been more likely to follow victory than an “end of major combat operations.”

    submandave (5a1ebc)

  21. Why don’t you fashion two or three questions for General Lute YOU would have asked?

    steve (6830b3)

  22. Steve #21,

    That’s a great idea! I’m interested in several aspects of this Declaration but here are the immediate questions that come to mind:

    Did the US draft the agenda contemplated by the Declaration, did the Iraqi government draft it, or was it jointly drafted?

    Who participated in drafting the Declaration on behalf of the US government – the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, or all of the above?

    Who participated in and approved the Declaration on behalf of the Iraqi government?

    Will the framework be negotiated in stages with interim status reports and, if so, what are the projected time periods for the reports?

    At present, do you expect this process will conclude with a treaty or a bilateral agreement?

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  23. I wish I knew the name of the general who testified before Congress and was asked why the Army was broken (Kennedy the water torture expert asked the question). The smack down answer which should have been directed to Pelosi was “because the Democrats cut the military by 50% during the 90s.”

    I wonder if Pelosi feels that not funding the military’s budget somehow improves its performance. If so I look forward to her prompt action of the progressive social welfare spending programs otherwise known as black holes.

    I am looking forward to 2008. The dhimmierats approval rating is now below OJ Simpson’s during his murder trial.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  24. VOR, if we take your point one step further, maybe part of the reason some people don’t care is because journalists today do such a poor job providing us with information.

    DRJ,

    That could be part of it – it kind of offers a chicken and the egg debate. But if these are the elite of the press corps it is a troubling thought.
    Conservatives in general aren’t happy with a press that is undoubtedly more liberal. But this raises a set of questions “Does journalism attract mostly liberals or is their liberal outlook formed over time and if so why? What reasons do equal numbers of conservatives relative to liberals choose not to become (or stay) journalists?”

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  25. and a BBC poll in September had 47 percent of Iraqis wanting the U.S. out immediately.

    Care to link to that?
    Then, care to explain the relevance if it were true?

    The Ace (eaec12)

  26. I don’t see how these crappy questions were any different than the crappy softball questions that the white house press corps has been asking all through the administration. The only difference is that people at this site whine about the press corps stupidity and “liberal” bias while the people over at Crooks and liars and etc… whine about the press corps’ stupidity and how they are all a bunch of Bushie administration stooges (“conservative” bias I guess).

    EdWood (c2268a)

  27. So now it’s Impeach Cheney, Bush and Pelosi!

    I guess her 15 minutes is up.

    Neo (cba5df)

  28. Democrats who are fighting every day … ?

    And I thought they were for peace.

    Neo (cba5df)

  29. What a bunch of pathetic fucking losers. I’ve absolutely had it with the left in this country. They’ve taken partisanship to a new extreme where they will literally throw the country under the bus in hopes of gaining a few votes. Get these bums the hell out of my country. I mean these reporters and the scum who enable them.

    Nadio (efa0b7)

  30. Who asked what???

    It would not be a long-shot to assume that the most insulting (and assinine) question would probably come from David Gregory of NBC – he has a particular knack for them.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  31. Q “Is this a facade for the Middle East conference, so it doesn’t wave this big cloud of our being in Iraq?”

    Flunked English, became a White House journalist. What a country!

    Patricia (f56a97)

  32. I don’t see the good news in the new principles for Iraq; I see a confirmation of bad news. (The reduction in violence is good news, to the extent that it’s back the the unacceptable levels of two years ago from the really unacceptable levels of January.) We traitors were long suspicious that the construction of the world’s largest embassy and our refusal to renounce permanent bases in Iraq at a time our continued long-term presence was fueling the insurgency reinforced our view that the WMD snipe hunt was largely pretextual, and the creation of a “New Middle East” whose fulcrum was an American client state in Iraq has been the goal of our war-of-choice (i.e., war of conquest) from Day One.

    There is no support among Iraqis for long-term American bases in Iraq. We are imposing them on a weak government largely of our own creation (say, any progress on the oil-revenue sharing law lately?) and they will do nothing but fuel nationalistic opposition to American aims in Iran, Syria, and elsewhere. The idea that they will be used for operations against the Iraqi Shia’s BFFs in Teheran is risible.

    And that’s not even talking about the effects on our own military.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (a8283d)

  33. AJL – Your comment is what is risible.

    You’ve got Bubba himself talking about WMD’s and rewriting history again about it but you can pretend that there was never any evidence Iraq had any or defied however many U.N. resolutions it was or the terms of the First Gulf War cease fire agreement over the issue. It all disappears in the absolute certainty of your hindsight. I thought liberals believed the U.N. was supposed to mean something – when did they believe Sadaam should stop telling it to fuck of with impunity?

    “There is no support among Iraqis for long-term American bases in Iraq.” – Do the Iraqis involved in the press releases count as Iraqis AJL or do you have another definition? What is your support for this statement?

    “they will do nothing but fuel nationalistic opposition to American aims in Iran, Syria, and elsewhere.” -AJL, you may not have noticed that we have not been best buddies with Iran for quite some time, especially now since we are trying to thwart their nuclear ambitions and because of our activities in Iraq. Your complaint about Iran is meaningless. Syria is a little afraid of us and our support of Israel. Without the support of Iran, Syria has no balls of its own. What do you mean by “elsewhere?”

    Try showing your work Andrew.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  34. I know it’s hard for Daleyrocks to believe that Iraq doesn’t want hundreds of square miles of American bases in their country along with a vast military force (plus those friendly contractors). After all, if the United Nations wanted to have a few million soldiers in the USA, no one would dare think it infringed on our sovereignty.

    Somehow many Iraqi politicians and most Iraqis think otherwise.

    A September poll conducted by ABC News and the BBC found that 47 percent of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave Iraq immediately, up from 26 percent in November 2005 and 35 percent last winter. Polls in Iraq should be taken with a grain of salt, given the inherent problems of polling under violent conditions. But only seven percent said U.S. troops should “remain until the Iraqi security forces can operate independently, and zero said the U.S. should “never leave.” These are hardly auspicious figures for a long-term security arrangement.

    Of course, there are exceptions who support bases, like Klement Gottwald and Janos Kadar. Oh, wait, they ceded national sovereignty to the USSR—they must be bad! Puppets like al-Maliki who make deals like this with us—they must be good!

    Andrew J. Lazarus (a8283d)

  35. Very impressive first link from TPM, Andrew. Funny that there’s only one politician from a small sunni bloc mentioned though.

    “Ali al-Dabbagh doesn’t foresee the Iraqi parliament rejecting the upcoming long-term security assurance President Bush intends to extend Iraq. He must not have talked to Saleh Mutlaq.

    Mutlaq is the somewhat dyspeptic head of the smaller of two Sunni blocs in parliament. Both blocs exhibit profound distrust for Nouri al-Maliki. But Mutlaq is even less accommodating, and he’s closer to the “Sunni extremist” whom Dabbagh expects will object to the deal. Sure enough, Mutlaq objects to the deal.”

    Even that extremeist in the second link doesn’t see a problem with the accord making its way through the Iraqi paeliament or council of representatives. The doubter is the TPM author.

    “Regardless, Dabbagh doesn’t expect the parliament to scotch the agreement — and hinted that the Maliki government will make sure it doesn’t. “At the end, it won’t go to the Council of Representatives unless it is approved by the main blocs,” said. “When it goes there, it will be a minor debate and there will be a pre-approval.” The Monday declaration of principles for the upcoming negotiations, he said, received pre-approval by the principal factions within the parliament.”

    The opinion polling is interesting but irrelevant to the question at hand concerning bases. Also, have you any information on who was polled, where and the questions that were asked leading to the conclusion you rest your hat on? Given that the size and number of bases is a negotiating item, maybe the appropriate size is thousands of square miles instead of hundreds. When you’re dealing in sheer speculation as you are Andrew, who really gives a shit.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  36. “Is there any precedent for this in history? If General Lute had said, “Of course, after the surrender at Appomattox” I’d bet money the J-school brains would have asked, “Appo- who?”

    Broadsword (3b953d)

  37. Hey, daleyrocks, you wanted me to show my work, there it is.

    Your view is just an updated version of “They will greet us with flowers.” Now it’s flowers and bases!

    Andrew J. Lazarus (eaa555)

  38. AJL – Have you been following Sistani’s gathering of religious leaders in Najaf and the proclamations from that group about the future of Iraq? It has understandably been getting little coverage from the surrender media in the U.S.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  39. AJL – They did greet us with flowers. Surely you saw the videos.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  40. Oh No! Jack Murtha willingly suspends his disbelief and admits the surge is working militarily. It must no longer be the illusion he claimed over the summer.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07333/837824-100.stm?cmpid=latest.xml

    daleyrocks (906622)

  41. Somehow many Iraqi politicians and most Iraqis think otherwise.

    Then:
    Polls in Iraq should be taken with a grain of salt

    The Ace (eaec12)


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