Christmas Presents From Iraq
Shall we take bets on how long it takes John Warner to soil his Depends and cave in once again under White House pressure? The Post says that Warner’s call for a symbolic withdrawal of say 5,000 troops by the holidays as a way to pressure the Iraqis “makes it easier for wavering Republicans to break with the president.”
Oh, please stop with this garbage. There are no wavering Republicans who will break with the president next month. They will talk a good game, then cower in fear and back a failed policy until the last body bag has come home. And how craven is it for Warner to play with the troop levels like this, as if picking 5,000 Christmas presents is a salve for a failed policy, when someone like Warner with his influence has forfeited several opportunities to challenge the policy and assumptions behind the surge already?
The pushback has already started, with a flawed justification. Army Major General Rick Lynch, who commands our forces south of Baghdad and who has previously come out against any talk of changing the mission or any withdrawal, is out of the gate telling the media that Warner’s idea is a nonstarter. But under Lynch’s reasoning, he in essence is arguing for a permanent occupation because in his mind any removal of our already inadequate force levels would lead to a resurgence of the enemy in those areas. General, that resurgence you fear would happen one year from now, five years from now, or even ten years from now if there is no political solution.
If Warner really cared about pressuring the Iraqis, especially after al-Maliki said earlier in the week that he could find new friends who won’t criticize him, Warner would step out on that ledge and lead, by demanding that the Guard be called home first en masse by next April, with thousands more by August as part of a mission change and diplomatic effort to contain the Iraq mess from spreading. But Warner can’t bring himself to even do this, something that could be bootstrapped to outgoing Joint Chiefs' chairman General Peter Pace's recommendation, and any number of outside reports and analyses. Instead he talks about troop cuts as if they were a national Christmas present, and wants to ignore the fact that the surge he fails to oppose has already partitioned the country into sectarian enclaves with thousands of displaced Iraqis.
This is what passes for GOP independent thinking and leadership these days, and the Beltway media laps it up.
Update: Today’s tour-de-force is Jim Hoagland’s column in the Washington Post. Read Hoagland’s smack down of Bush’s desperate effort to link Iraq to Vietnam, as well as Josh Marshall’s take on this, and then send Hoagland a thank you for being one Beltway pundit to cut through the manure and call Bush out.