Thursday :: Mar 8, 2007

House Democrats Agree On Fall 2008 Withdrawal Timeline


by Steve

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Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership are heeding the advice to keep it simple: Democrats have a goal of getting us out of Iraq by the next election.

General Raymond Odierno has prepared an analysis for General Petraeus that calls for maintaining the surge at least until February 2008 before determining whether any troops can been withdrawn. To do this, it will require Bush to send National Guard units from the states to maintain troop levels because the regular military has already been stretched too thin for this extended duty. This will also mean that the Iraq war will still be front and center during the summer of 2008. But the end of our Iraq commitment may be in sight. General Petraeus said this morning that his counterinsurgency plan needs an internal political component for it to work, and that the US needs to talk with insurgent groups on a solution.

There is nothing new in what Petraeus is saying, except that it is he who is saying the same thing that General Casey said last year. Petraeus, who has been vested with much hope and authority by Gates and the White House, is telling everyone that a political effort needs to be made so that his plan can work, a message that this White House has rejected before.

House Democrats have already responded this morning, coming out with a unified position that we should be out of Iraq by the fall of 2008. They are now willing to tie this to the supplemental appropriation bill, rather than wait for the 2008 defense authorization bill. It is a position that allows more time for the surge to work than a competing Senate Democratic measure that calls for a withdrawal by March 2008, but the House Democratic version does allow for the Fall 2008 timeline to be accelerated if the Iraqi government fails to meet its commitments. The bill adds money for Afghanistan and veterans' health over and above what Bush wanted, but it also allows Bush to certify Iraqi progress.

I find it interesting that the House Democrats are now willing to tie a timeline to the supplemental appropriation, but only after Odierno and Petraeus set the table for them. Odierno is recommending that a pullout not even be contemplated until at least next spring, which allows the Democrats to say that they are not undercutting the commanders on the ground. And Petraeus is telling anyone who will listen that the Bush Administration needs to talk to the insurgents between now and then, or else none of this will work.

As a result, the House Democrats are now ready to push a timeline that doesn’t run contrary to what the commanders on the ground are saying. By setting a timeline, they are finally taking a position demanded by their base and that is supported by over 60% of the public. Such a position also forces Bush to clean up his mess before he leaves office. Democrats are cleverly now offering their GOP counterparts the opportunity to go on record in support of getting out of Iraq before their next election. If the GOP filibusters this in the Senate, the Democratic leadership will make it clear that the GOP is blowing off the midterm election results and that this is their war.

Steve :: 8:29 AM :: Comments (20) :: Digg It!