Saturday, December 24, 2005

Iraqi troop draw down

Before the 2004 election, I mentioned that Bush would begin to seriously withdraw troops from Iraq in 2006. Why? It has nothing to do with the Iraq elections. Does anyone seriously think that the Iraqi police/military is sufficiently trained and free of corruption to take over the country? No. And without that force or the U.S. forces, the election is just a puppet show.

What is really going on here is politics - plain, simple, cynical, and ugly. The draw down of troops from Iraq was planned long ago. It was designed to happen in 2006 in order to help Republican members of Congress to get re-elected. By doing that, Bush hopes to retain some power to control or negotiate with the Legislative branch of government as his administration enters it's lame duck period.

The trouble is that some Republican members of Congress have gotten cold feet about the plan. They are beginning to balk and in doing so, they occasionally cause drama and embarrassment for the White House (ie, the McCain amendment on torture - not that McCain is balking, but the overwhelming support for it shows that other members certainly are because they aren't towing the White House line as much). When George W. Bush states that he is resolute and that we must stick to the strategy, he's speaking as much to members of his own party as he is to the public at large. He's encouraging Republican congressional representatives to stick to Rove's re-election strategy more than he's saying anything about his strategy for Iraq.

To exacerbate this problem, some Democrats have figured out the Rove strategy. In recent months, they've turned up the heat on getting out of Iraq soon. They've done so ahead of the Republicans in order to claim some hand in bringing the troops home. What else explains Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi's recent position changes regarding the war. Jack Murtha provided the initial cover. The whole "we got different intelligence" thing is just a cynical scam. Do I think that they got different intelligence? Sure, but they didn't look for outside sources either - again, another example of politics trumping policy.

The Republicans and the Democrats are both playing cynical politics. Their positions are getting and have gotten many people killed. Sadly, they are likely to get more people killed. Bush will stick to the Rove strategy. He will bring many more troops home next year. He might bring more home than he originally anticipated as he sees that things aren't turning out as well as he had hoped (in order to bring approval ratings up for the election). Democrats will assist by pounding away on the issue as things get worse and will provide the cover Bush needs. Iraqi insurgents will see through these positions. They will understand the strategy and realize that there really is and has always been a timetable for withdrawal. This will incite increased insurgent attacks and more deaths for civilians and military forces. Iraq will slip into civil war and dictatorship. Republicans will blame Democrats for pressing so hard to get out early. Democrats will blame Republicans for going in under false pretenses and not having a strategy in the first place.

The sad thing is that many of our troops as well as Iraqi civilians are going to die due to the cynical strategies outlined by our politicians who care more about getting re-elected than they ever did about brutal dictatorships, democracy, freedom, human rights or national security. A pox on both parties. Will the American public fall for it? Or will they finally realize that they've been played from the start and revolt at the polls? Hard to say at this point, but a lot of people are going to die unless the public presses hard for better morals and ethics from our politicians.

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