Thursday, February 15, 2007

Harman's Had Her Friedman Unit - Now What?

Jane Harman, eight months ago speaking on the floor of the House (all emphasis mine):
“Since I returned from my third trip to Iraq last September, I have been calling on the Administration to develop an exit strategy. And I believe it is now time to begin the phased, strategic redeployment of U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq on a schedule designed by military commanders, not designed by the US Congress.

“The U.S. is part of the solution in Iraq, but our large military presence is part of the problem. Beginning to reduce the “footprint,” while maintaining an over-the-horizon strike force, will improve our chances for success.

I think we have 3-6 months to advance three objectives:

Notice the 6 month timeframe given? That explains my use of the Friedman Unit in the post title. The term is named after the "serious" foreign policy writer at the NYT, Thomas Friedman. Check the link and you will learn why.

Back to Harman's objectives:
“First, helping the new Iraqi government provide electrical power, particularly in Baghdad, and deliver other critical economic and social services to the Iraqi people.

When Jane Harman made this speech (June 2006), Baghdad had 8.0 hours of electricity a day. Six months later (Dec 2006), the city had just 6.7 hours a day, and it has even less now (6.1). Nationwide, the number of hours of electricity/day has also declined significantly - from 11.9 to 9.2 six months later. (Source: Brookings Institution, Iraq Index, p. 28)

Other critical economic and social indicators:
Unemployment stands at an astronomical 25-40%, unchanged since June (Iraq Index, p. 29)

Inflation that's well north of 50%, due to fuel prices jumping 800% between end of 2005 and early 2007, and still at 35% when excluding energy costs. ((Iraq Index, p. 33)

And when you can't provide security -- as the daily bombings in Baghdad attest -- you can't exactly provide social services.
“Second, supporting the Iraqi government in its effort to disarm Shiite militias and integrate them into a trained Iraqi national security force.
After Harman's six month window, the number of daily attacks by insurgents and militias actually increased from 100 to 185((Iraq Index, p. 20), and this clearly involves Shiite militias in addition to Sunnis, otherwise you wouldn't have the Iraqi prime minister calling on Shiite militias to disarm.

“Third, continuing the process, begun by our able Ambassador Khalilzad, of obtaining buy-in from Sunni political leaders.

That doesn't appear to have advanced any from June until now.

Achieving these objectives will enable us to leave Iraq in better shape than we found it.

OK, then the inverse of this should also hold true: Failure to achieve these objectives will prevent us from leaving Iraq in better shape than we found it.

“The next three months are critical. We have a moral obligation to assist Iraq on its path to democracy, but if clearly-defined minimum objectives cannot be achieved within that time frame, the prospects for success in Iraq could all but disappear. So … a change of course is urgently needed.

That critical three month window closed on September 15, and the six-month window closed on December 15.

And based on the objectives that Jane Harman herself laid out in June, Iraq is messed up beyond repair. Not only have none of her three objectives been achieved yet, but there's been little, if any, progress on reaching any of them.

But all we hear from Harman is more of the same.

If we can't leave until Iraq is fixed, we'll be there forever. It's time Jane got real on this.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Light posting for a little while

I appreciate your visiting - sorry for not having anything new for a while. It'll be very light posting for a little while still.

To look for:

On Iraq..

Jane Harman will be getting her 5 minutes to discuss the anti-escalation resolution in the House, as will every other representative. Will bring you text when available.

On Iran..

Now that it's pretty clear that the admin is selling a bunch of bull about weapons being supplied by Iran (latest example here), hopefully Jane Harman will not be mentioning it as she did in the Ed Schultz interview without noting the source of the "intel", and the heaping dose of skepticism which should accompany it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Harman interview re: Iraq and Iran

Jane Harman spoke a week ago with Ed Schultz and was asked a bunch of Iraq/Iran questions. Take a listen here.

First, you've got Harman saying she supports redeployment out of Iraq, but then a minute later she's saying that the US has an obligation to leave Iraq better than when we found it.

That last part is pretty darned alarming. Jane, Iraq is FUBAR, period. You may feel an itch to redeem yourself for your part in launching this war and for supporting it for so long, but the opportunity to "fix" Iraq has passed.

Put another way, 1) Iraq is Humpty Dumpty; 2) Bush dropped it to the ground (and stepped on it a few times), and; 3) even if Iraq could be put together again, Bush is guaranteed to not be the person who would be able to do it.

If I take Jane Harman at her word concerning what the country is morally obligated to do, then it's clear that she intends for us to be in Iraq for many, many years to come.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Piping Up Again About Iran Misinformation

They're selling us another war using the same script of lies and deceit as for Iraq.

In April of last year Jane Harman spoke out about Bush deceptions on Iraq.
Leading Democrat warns of “disinformation”

Not all Democrats are silent on Iran. Perhaps the most outspoken and most cogent voice is Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Speaking specifically about Iran to the Council on Foreign Relations in early April, Harman portrayed US intelligence on Iran as a potential minefield. (Harman's full remarks, along with that of former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, are available here.)

“I think that some of the intelligence I see -- and I did ask to see the intelligence case on Iran -- is not close to where it needs to be,” Harman said. “I'm not going to reveal the classified information, but I did have a reaction in the briefing I got that some of this might be disinformation, not information. And I know we are passing around our intelligence case, the administration is, to the [International Atomic Energy Agency] and some of our allies.”
Harman’s discussion of Iran suggests she believes the Bush Administration may be putting forth questionable intelligence.

“All I'm saying is I remain skeptical,” she told an intelligence panel. “Lots of unanswered questions and conjecture that I have is that if I were Iran and I wanted to put out disinformation, it might look a lot like what our government is claiming is information.... I want to be absolutely sure that we base decisions, especially tough decisions like what are the next steps with Iran -- and I surely hope they are diplomatic because I think those are our best options -- on pristine and pure intelligence, or the closest we can get to that.”

“I have no question that Iran is a dangerous place, so don't let me tell you that there's any doubt in my mind,” Harman added. “The issue is how capable are they, and what are the real intentions of Iran's leaders? And I think the jury's out on both of those.”
This of pushback is urgently needed to add some sanity. My google searches come up with nothing in recent time with Rep. Harman speaking on this issue.

I hope we don't have to wait much longer to hear from her. Strong words like these to dispel the bogus claims would be most welcome.

[NOTE: I corrected the title of the post to Iran instead of Iraq. ..One later correction - I had referred to Jane Harman in the second paragraph as "you", but deciding against addressing the post directly to her. I've corrected it by inserting her name.]

Once Again, Troop Safety isn't About the Money

It's about whether or not their safety is a high priority for our leaders. Here is yet more evidence that it's not a high priority for the Bush crowd:

Even as the president orders more troops to Iraq, the soldiers already serving there and in Afghanistan lack necessary body armor, communications equipment and other equipment, according to a report summary by the Pentagon's Inspector General made public today.

...More on the subject from ThinkProgress