Wednesday :: Dec 7, 2005

Iraq: Change The Rhetoric

by Steve

Anyone reading this blog knows that I, like many Americans I suspect, have gone back and forth about what our country should do. I had previously argued that our troops can come home, with the knowledge that they have successfully fulfilled their mission of regime change. It is appalling that our troops are suffering casualties because of the administration’s botched occupation, failure to secure weapons stocks, failure to provide enough troops and seal the borders, and lack of defining what “victory” means. The Senate has recently passed a policy resolution that established they wanted to see reports from the administration on how we were going to transition the security of the country to the Iraqis during 2006, which I now believe is the right way to approach this. 2006 should be the year that we pursue a gradual drawdown of troops, securing and holding areas to insert Iraqi security forces while we then retreat out of the urban areas and draw down the troops.

Anything short of this is stalling on the part of the administration. Anything short of this, or any talk of an indefinite training period, is stalling. Remember, last week the justification for stalling was to train the Iraqis. Today, the new message isn’t training the Iraqi troops, but to ensure steady economic progress. What will in be next week? Universal health care for all Iraqis?

Democrats should talk of 2006 as the year of transition, and set the frame that there is no reason why our forces shouldn’t be out in significant numbers by the end of 2006. Democrats should make the case that they need to be in office in 2007 to not only clean up Bush’s mess, and not only to ensure that there will be no more stalling and no more taxpayer dollars for Iraq, but to also ride herd on a reckless and incompetent White House.

I tend to agree that it is counterproductive for Nancy Pelosi to step out and take a position that isn’t supported by her caucus. Her desire to support Murtha is laudable, but she is the leader of the party in the House, and needs to follow the example of Harry Reid and work towards a common approach inside the caucus like the one I have mentioned above that doesn’t push individual incumbents beyond their comfort levels in their districts. Remember that the goal is to take back the House in 2006 on the argument that Democrats need to be elected to ensure a transition out of Bush’s debacle. Part of that means tagging the architects behind this policy as failures and spewers of mindless rhetoric. As for Howard Dean, his statement that we cannot win in Iraq was wrong, in that although his position squares with Chuck Hagel’s, Dean should have mentioned that we probably cannot win militarily in Iraq, and that a political solution is essential.

That political solution begins with the year of transition in 2006, a declaration that we have no permanent aims in the country, and have no designs on their oil. Again, an immediate withdrawal isn’t possible and shouldn’t in my mind be the Democratic position. Murtha is not calling for that. But he is calling for the troops to be withdrawn when practicable, and that is the debate that Democrats should have with the White House: how to define “victory”, how to define “progress”, and when is it practicable?

Democrats should align themselves with the generals whom Murtha speaks to, but who are too afraid of this White House to say publicly that they support him. There is no reason after the December 15th election why the Bush Administration cannot transition to Iraqi forces in many parts of the country through a “clear and hold” strategy, and make 2006 the year of transition. Anything short of that is stalling. And that is the debate Democrats should be having with the White House, rather than being sucked into a false choice between immediate withdrawal with timetables, and “stay the course” and “steady progress” rhetoric from those who have bungled this so badly that all they have left in their arsenals is to hide behind Joe Lieberman.

Steve :: 12:02 PM :: Comments (23) :: TrackBack (1) :: Digg It!