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.