What Exactly Is The Mission?
On a day when the death toll for American troops has already hit 58 only halfway through the month, we are getting an advance look at what James Baker’s Iraq Study Group will be recommending after the election for our Iraq policy, and it represents a significant change in course for the Bush Administration that Dick Cheney may find impossible to accept. For example, Baker may specifically recommend that the administration open direct talks with both Iran and Syria, things that have been advocated around here for years, but have been resisted by the desk chair warriors in the White House and Pentagon from Day One. He may also recommend that the administration withdraw forces from Iraq to nearby countries, which of course is the Murtha redeployment proposal.
Given the way the Bush 41 people think of the Bush 43 people, and vice-versa, the real question is whether or not the current cabal will accept any constructive suggestions from Poppy’s consigliere, or whether a Democratic Congress will have to force it down Bush’s throat next year through the appropriations process.
Bush stuck a finger in John Warner’s eye today when he told Prime Minister al-Maliki to disregard recent talk in this country that the Iraqi government had 2-3 months to demonstrate progress or face a reevaluation of US policy. Bush told al-Maliki that we would not be leaving any time soon, which wasn’t on the table with Warner or anyone else.
As Paradox noted earlier, we already know how the al-Maliki government feels about it: they want the Bush Administration to rely more on talks and diplomacy and less on force; they have no plans to disarm the militias until later this year or next year; and they are now saying that there will be a significant drawdown in US forces starting in a matter of months. If that is the case, then why are our soldiers now in harm’s way to police a situation that the Iraqis themselves don’t want to grapple with until next year? Pull our folks back to the borders to seal off the country, find incentives to get the militias to work together with us on eliminating the Al Qaeda presence in Iraq, and get direct talks and a regional security conference set up immediately. That should be the Democratic alternative that we push now, rather than a stay-the-course shooting gallery that the Administration is seemingly locked into.