The End Game in Iraq?

Lost in the sparring between Matt and I over McCain’s mis-truths is the important question of what happens next in Iraq.

One thing that John McCain and Lindsay Graham (both in my Top 10 Washington Politicians BTW) have said repeatedly is

No one wants to talk about what happens after the troops leave.

[not a direct quote – searching for one]

with the implication that, whatever it is, it will be bad.

I am sure that everyone agrees that it will be bad – but what’s the alternative?

McCain always asks the question rhetorically when there is no one around to answer it. In the four years since the war started, the Republican Party have done everything they can to prevent people asking that question on the floor of the House or the Senate and now, when the new Democrat leadership tries to ask questions like this they are accused of treason, and cowardice and of cutting-and-running.

Why can’t they have a grown up debate about it?

Also, it’s disingenuous of McCain to keep repeating that the Democrats have no strategy except defeat when he knows that there is a broad spectrum of opinion within both parties – and there have been a number of alternate strategies from including the one from the Iraq Study Group which was supported by most mainstream Democrats until it was nullified by the President’s latest surge.
The debate so far has gone a lot like this:

  • Let’s start a war
    • Is that such a great idea?
      • The Democrats are cowards
  • We are succeeding in Iraq
    • Are you sure?
      • The Democrats support the enemy
  • We need to increase the number of troops
    • Will that work?
      • The Democrats want us to fail

There is a great tradition in the English parliament of a free vote where the Members are not obliged to vote along party lines. Just once, I’d like to see the Senate have a sensible debate (it’s too much to expect from the House) where the Senators just discuss the options without name-calling.

Until then we are stuck with a temporary strategy (lets just increase the number of troops temporarily and hope things improve) that is not working, brinkmanship like arguing over whose fault it will be if the President vetoes the military spending bill and shenanigans like promising to cut off the funding in 120 days.

What will happen if we leave? What will happen if we stay? What are the alternatives? I don’t know – but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Republican politician even attempt to answer those questions in good faith. Maybe the coming catastrophe over the spending bill will concentrate their minds a little – but I’m not holding my breath.

Published by

Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

3 thoughts on “The End Game in Iraq?”

  1. FWIW, I thought I heard McCain say a long time ago, that we’ll be there in some form or another for 10+ years, like Japan or Germany post WWII. The implication was a small fraction of today’s forces.

  2. >Also, it’s disingenuous of McCain to keep repeating that the Democrats have no strategy except defeat when he knows that there is a broad spectrum of opinion within both parties – and there have been a number of alternate strategies from including the one from the Iraq Study Group which was supported by most mainstream Democrats until it was nullified by the President’s latest surge.

    If he believes the surge is our best chance, then repeating it in the face of growing disagreement shows integrity, not disingenuousness.

    What is the current democratic strategy other than defeat? Isn’t their chosen plan to drive to a date? Is this not defeat and failure? Regardless of whether or not you think that’s the best remaining option, it is what it is.

    This current fiasco will feature prominently in future ad campaigns for enlightened despots.

  3. Integrity would be to say something like…

    I understand that the democrats have put forward several plans for Iraq. For instance Joseph Biden has been advocating an federal system divided along Kurd/Sunni/Shiite lines, John Murtha has been advocating withdrawing to the boundaries of Iraq, Clinton has been advocating a diplomatic offensive and that the mainstream opinion in the Democrat Party has been to champion the findings of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group commissioned by the previous (Republican) congress. But we haven’t really debated those options because it’s easier to just keep repeating that the ‘Democrats have no strategy’ in the hope that none of my supporters will take the trouble to find out what the Democrats are really saying.

    Sadly, in the absence of such honesty, the natural conclusion of such partisan point-scoring is that we’ll be left with two only options ‘stay the course’ and ‘get out’ and McCain’s posturing will become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Their current strategy is force the President to discuss the options rather than just to continue to hope things will get better until it’s not his problem any more. This is the first time since 2002 that congress has even talked about Iraq and the reason they are doing so is because the Dems have said ‘if you don’t talk about it we are giving you a year to come up with an exit strategy’.

    If the despots are enlightened, they will consider the alternatives that are coming from across the political spectrum (keep your eye on Chuck Hagel and John Warner). If the despots are like McCain and Bush they will try to pretend that there are only two alternatives – Victory or Defeat. If they throw in a little gay-baiting and anti-flag-burning they might get another 50.1% majority while painting the 49.9 minority as unpatriotic, treasonous baby-killers.

    I’d rather the enlightened despots try to find a consensus that has a chance of working.

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