An Alternative Iraq Policy For Democrats
It has flown in under the radar these last several days, but if the Democrats are looking for an Iraq exit plan that will work, and a strategy that will put the Republicans in an awful spot if they oppose it heading into an election year, they should take a close look at two things:
First, support the exit strategy proposed by retired Admiral and newly-elected Democratic representative Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, which calls for a funding cutoff for the surge effective January 1, 2008; and a Murtha-esque redeployment of some of these forces in Iraq to nearby countries, especially Afghanistan, and to bring home the rest. Sestak’s plan has the benefit of targeting the military towards the real threat that Bush has exposed this country to: the resurgence of Al Qaeda caused in large part by Bush’s impeachable dereliction of duty in letting Al Qaeda regroup along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Any Republican who argues against redeploying regular Army and Marine forces to Afghanistan is in effect waiving the white flag in the war on terror. Plus, a definite funding cutoff at the start of the 2008 election season will tempt vulnerable GOP incumbents.
Second, Democrats should oppose any further deployments of the National Guard back to Iraq, especially when their own commanders admit they don’t have the equipment necessary to go back into battle. The NYT reports this morning that in order for Bush’s surge to sustain itself, the Pentagon is preparing to call thousands of state National Guard units from several purple states back to Iraq earlier than expected, in some cases three years earlier than expected. Democrats, even those from red states like Oklahoma, can successfully argue against sending the Guard back to Iraq at all, when their first mission is here at home to their communities, especially when such an early redeployment will cripple reenlistments and force under equipped forces to go back into a war that this administration will force onto its successor. Ordering the Ohio, Indiana, and Arkansas Guard units to go back early will make it damn near impossible for vulnerable GOP incumbents in those states to support an extension of the surge beyond January 1, 2008, giving more legs to a proposal like Admiral Sestak’s.
No matter what spin emanates from the White House this week about Tony Blair’s move to lessen his force posture in Iraq, the symbolism of this country shouldering the burden by itself, while Bush destroys the Guard and local communities for the surge, will cause real problems for the GOP even in red states by the summer. A plan like Admiral Sestak’s, that has a definite fund cutoff after a year of the surge, and redeployment of regular Army and Marine forces back to the real war on terror, coupled with a demand that the Guard be returned home rather than sent back to Iraq provides the Democrats with an alternative Iraq and WOT policy that are good policy and politics at the same time.
Save the Guard, not the surge.