Wednesday :: Aug 30, 2006

Using General Casey's Prediction To Help Democrats

by Steve

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again. Getting into an argument with Bush and Cheney about firing Rummy or a troop withdrawal timeline is a futile exercise, because a) he won’t fire Rummy, and b) he won’t be pushed into withdrawing troops while he is in office. Just yesterday, Bush said again that he won’t let public opinion dictate his Iraq policy, and continues to indicate that there won't be a major withdrawal on his watch, (as that would be a sign of a failed policy,) unless the generals on the ground support it.

Today, General George Casey helped put some parameters around our commitment when he said:

"I don't have a date, but I can see over the next 12 to 18 months, the Iraqi security forces progressing to a point where they can take on the security responsibilities for the country, with very little coalition support,"

As the story notes, this does not mean that US forces can come home when Iraqi forces have taken over, as we are planning to move into large bases and provide support for the Iraqi security forces. But it does mean that Casey believes our presence can be reduced beginning 12-18 months down the road as the Iraqis approach self-sufficiency. And as Bush has said many times, the generals on the ground will dictate the timeline, and we will leave when the Iraqis are ready. Regardless of whether or not Bush can be trusted on that, Casey affirmed again today that 12-18 months from now, it will be the Iraqis that govern when we go and how much of an American presence remains.

Casey gave a progress report today on how the Iraqis are doing in successfully completing a three-step process:

1. Training and equipping Iraqi forces: apparently completed.
2. "Put them in the lead, still with our support": 75% completed
3. Provide security themselves: sometime after the 12-18 months.

If you read closely what Casey is saying, the Administration is calling the shots for the next 12-18 months, while the Iraqis complete Step Two and while we work towards helping them build the intelligence, logistical, and medical infrastructure to sustain themselves independently. At that point, three “Friedmans” from now in early 2008, the Bush Administration would be accountable for delivering Iraq to the Iraqis and a significant draw down of our troops. What Casey has done today is provide the measuring stick Democrats can use hang future slippage and failure around Bush’s neck. Both the Administration and the Iraqis are claiming, contrary to facts on the ground, that things are getting better. If so, and that is a specious claim, then Casey’s timeline plays into that nonsense, regardless of whether or not it is true.

It doesn’t take 135,000 American soldiers to build the intelligence, logistical, and medical infrastructure called for in Step Three. And if Casey is saying today that the Iraqis are 75% of the way to completing Step Two, then Democrats are in a position to hold the Administration accountable for a significant withdrawal beginning a year from now. Failure to do so can be hung around Bush and McCain’s neck as a sign of GOP failure heading into the 2008 elections.

Bush and Rove are smearing Democrats for allegedly misunderstanding the threat we face and wanting to cut and run. Democrats should respond that they understand full well the threat we face and how George W. Bush’s decisions have increased that threat. Democrats should respond that they will support General Casey’s timeline to allow the Iraqis the 12-18 months needed to move well into Step Three, but that after 12 months there is no reason that significant forces cannot be brought home and replaced if need be with regional or alternate international forces. After all, this administration has shown through its incompetence in carrying out this occupation that America has no monopoly on creating an effective intelligence, logistical, or medical infrastructure.

Democrats should point out that there is no reason for this country to shoulder the financial and political burden alone after Step Two is completed, unless it was always about the oil. A regional solution using regional forces must be pursued now so that over the next 12-18 months those international, non-American forces can step in and take over as Step Two is completed, and so that there is a regional investment in Iraq’s success, rather than an American-driven solution.

Democrats should continue to point out that we shouldn’t be Iraq now in the first place, and are there because of Bush’s misguided post-9/11 agenda, poor decision-making, and gross misjudgment. But now that we are there, and given the sorry state of the Democratic messaging and communications efforts, being tagged as quitters who want an immediate withdrawal pays no dividends either. Rather than get knocked around by Bush and the Liars for quitting before the mission is done, Democrats should support Casey’s 12-18 month timeline and demand that Bush take the steps now to make Step Three a regional solution, and not a budget-busting American-driven failure. If there is any further slippage in the Casey timeline, it should be hung around Bush’s neck as a failure of his policy and a reason for a Democratic congress to force a change in policy next year. And as I have said before, Democrats should call for a “no permanent bases, no permanent troops” vote right before the midterm elections, and see how many more Chris Shays there are in the GOP caucus.

Steve :: 11:18 AM :: Comments (13) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!