Monday :: Dec 5, 2005

The New "Training" Frame - White House Now Arguing For Indefinite Troop Presence?

by Steve

Jeffrey Feldman over at has penned an interesting analysis on how the White House has changed the framing surrounding our involvement in Iraq, in response to the dead-on critiques by Russ Feingold and John Murtha. Feldman noted that in Bush’s speech last week, he shifted the framing that supports our presence from 9/11 towards “training.” In doing so, Feldman argues, Bush has reframed our need to stay as long as necessary until the Iraqis have been adequately trained to stand up so that we can stand down and presumably leave.

And so, the 'challenge' that the President decided to face--as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces--was not how to figure out how to bring our family members home faster, but how to sell the American people on keeping their family members in Iraq, indefinitely--until they die.
Last night, on Hardball with Chris Matthews John Murtha said that in his conversations with trusted American generals, he learned that it could take as long as twenty five years to train Iraq soldiers to be ready to 'stand up' on their own (no transcript available at this time). Twenty five years is, by any stretch of the imagination, a lot of time. That means that Iraq would be like the next Korea. It means that when President Bush talks about 'training' Iraqis to defend themselves, what he really means is establishing a permanent presence for U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
The 'training' frame is President Bush strategy for telling the American people that the U.S. military will--for all time--be in Iraq. And so urgent is President' Bush's need to sell the American public on this idea, that he has even abandoned the 'September 11' frame--for now.

As long as Bush gets to claim that we are training the Iraqis to take the burden themselves, he can deflect calls for immediate withdrawal, or so he thinks. As Feldman notes, this allows Bush to keep troops in Iraq as long as he wants, without (as a commenter noted astutely) having his fingerprints directly on the decision to keep them there (they’ll leave when they are trained and ready), and without getting pushed into an exit timetable.

Feldman then argues for a way to deal with this:

For the rest of us, who are looking for ways to bring the mistaken policy on Iraq to an end, we need only speak from our hearts.
Rather than talk about 'training' as the President would have us, we should speak instead of our concern that more time in Iraq will bring more death and more debt--more lost loved ones--and more financial hardship for our children's future.

One way to rebut this “we need to stay until they are trained” frame is to counter it by saying that Bush is “stalling”. And while he stalls, more and more of our soldiers die while the Iraqis do less and less for themselves to fight insurgents; the recruiting, readiness, and morale of our armed forces are critically harmed; and more and more of our money is being wasted overseas while it is critically needed here at home.

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