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The Democrats Risk-Free Iraq Strategy

When it comes to the politics of Iraq, the Democrats simply can't lose whatever they do. Opposition to the war is wildly popular with the American people who rewarded the Democrats with both houses of Congress in the historic 2006 elections. Republicans, along with their ally Joe Lieberman, have attempted to make the Democrats pay a terrible political price for their opposition to the war by branding them as quisling traitors who are "attacking our troops" and are in league with Al Qaeda.

Let's consider Joe Lieberman's latest attack against supporters of the resolution now working its way through Congress to mandate a withdrawal date. He starts off with a reasonable request to lower the tone of the debate:

What is needed in Iraq policy is not overheated rhetoric but a sober assessment of the progress we have made and the challenges we still face.

Consistent with this constructive tone, just a few lines down in this editorial, he hurls what has become an overused and tired Republican talking point against the Democrats:

When politicians here declare that Iraq is "lost" in reaction to al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks and demand timetables for withdrawal, they are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hopes they will do, although I know that is not their intent.

I see. We need to avoid overheated rhetoric, but it's okay to allege that the Democrats are working for the benefit of Al Qaeda. Makes perfect sense.

Despite these vitriolic and hyperbolic attempts to demonize the Democrats on Iraq, the public strongly supports the Democratic position:

...the poll shows that 56 percent say they agree more with the Democrats in Congress who want to set a deadline for troop withdrawal, versus the 37 percent who say they agree with Bush that there shouldn't be a deadline.

And they believe the war is already lost:

What's more, 55 percent believe that victory in Iraq isn't possible. And 49 percent say the situation in Iraq has gotten worse in the last three months since Bush announced his so-called troop surge. Thirty-seven percent say the situation has stayed about the same, and just 12 percent think it has improved.

What should be clear by now is that opposition to the Iraq War is an entirely risk-free political strategy for the Democrats. The people are behind them and Republican efforts to demonize them have fallen on deaf ears. Angry constituents are not bombarding their Democratic representatives with phone calls, letters and emails demanding that they give George Bush a blank check to continue our misadventure in Iraq. People are sick and fed up with this war, they want out, and they don't really care if an all-out civil war erupts there after we leave. The welfare of the average Iraqi citizen isn't high on the agenda of the American people. Doom-and-gloom withdrawal scenarios endlessly extolled by supporters of the war haven't budged the polls an inch.

If the Democrats succeed in forcing a pullout, then Iraq won't be a driving political issue in the 2008 elections. That election will instead be about health care, the environment, education, Social Security and a host of other issues where the public consistently favors the Democrats over the Republicans. (Assuming, of course, that there isn't a devastating terrorist attack on American soil which is something we know that Republicans would never wish to have happen even though it would rebound to their political advantage.)

If they don't succeed in forcing a pullout, then the 2008 elections will be all about Iraq just like the 2006 elections. And the outcome will be the same.

Given the fact that opposition to the war is politically risk-free for the Democrats they have decided to vigorously pursue the mandate given to them by the American people in the 2006 elections to end this war. The only real risk to the Democrats here would be if they ignore the wishes of the American people who put them into office. It happens rarely in our political system, but it does appear that the Democrats are determined to keep the promises they made during the 2006 election.



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Comments (22)

Well said, Larkin -- and your analysis is spot on. We can count on the GOP to continue its attempts at terrorizing the American voters, but I agree that the public is wiser now, and growing wiser by the day.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's a green light for the Democrats.

Paul Hamilton:

I agree with everything you said here, but it still bothers me a lot that this war is defined in political terms rather than in military ones. You have one side that says it's okay for our troops to die in indefinite numbers because the achievement of the political goal is justification enough. The other side seems to be saying that we don't care what happens over there just so long as US troops are removed because dying for "Bush's War" -- and I admit that I use this term, too -- is wrong.
The truth is in the middle. "We broke it and now we own it," as Colin Powell said. We cannot just bail out, no questions asked because that would be equally as immoral as the original invasion was.
I don't have an easy solutions to the problem of Iraq, but I know that turning it into a Republican/Democratic shouting match is counterproductive.

Publicus:

This is the Democrats big chance. Here's the scenario I'm hoping for:

1. Bush gets bill.
2. Bush vetos bill.
3. Bush waits for next bill funding the war.
4. Bill never comes.
5. War over.

All I want the Dems to do is NOTHING. That's it. It's easy. If it looks like the Dems are going to try sending another bill, I'm going to ask my Congressman and Senators to filibuster.

Publicus:

Paul --

"We broke it and now we own it," as Colin Powell said. We cannot just bail out, no questions asked because that would be equally as immoral as the original invasion was.

I've heard that. But those who broke it aren't those who are being used (and I do mean USED) to "fix" it. We have soldiers who are in their teens and twenties, who think they're immortal, losing their limbs and lives for the mistakes made by people in Washington, D.C.

These soldiers didn't break it. It is SO wrong for THEM to pay.

P. Bunyan:

Looking at this from a totally political standpoint and totally ignoring all other consequences is so... well words fail me... total evil is the best thing I can think of.

But for leftists this is not at all surprising. Typical.

Paul Hamilton:

Publicus, you are exactly correct. To use our soldiers as political fodder is a moral atrocity. But we cannot un-invade Iraq. No matter how wrong the invasion was, we are the ones who destablized Iraq to the point of civil war and I cannot morally justify an ethnic cleansing that would rival Darfur if we were to just abandon them with *our* mess.

P. Bunyan, it's kind of hard to discuss an issue when the other person is "struck speechless." If you could point out some problem you have with the post, I'd be happy to discuss it with you.

Joe's the Man:

Overheated rhetoric?

Lieberman may be the only person in the senate with anything to say that HASN'T used overheated rhetoric. He's the model of comity.

I see nothing "overheated" or "rhetorical" in the quote you present as an example.

Publicus:

Looking at this from a totally political standpoint and totally ignoring all other consequences is so... well words fail me... total evil is the best thing I can think of.

P. Bunyan --

We're all aware that there are consequences. But the subject of Larkin's entry is political. So, that's what we're talking about now----tactics.

If you want a rundown of why we want out of Iraq, etc...I'm sure you can find out. But it's not the current subject being discussed.

Publicus:

Paul --

I'm not fond of the consequences either way...staying or leaving.

But the "we" who are paying with their lives are not the "we" who broke Iraq. I also see no way for the U.S. to put Iraq back together. The new government isn't viable, and the whole country is probably going to break up into 3 countries eventually. If I had confidence in Bush (and I don't) I might support an attempt to negotiate dissolving the country into 3 states as peacefully as possible.

But it's rather late for that now. And Bush doesn't have the credibility to do that...even if he had the interest.

"If I had confidence in Bush (and I don't) I might support an attempt to negotiate dissolving the country into 3 states as peacefully as possible."

Bush doesn't have the inclination, credibility, interest or the skills to negotiate or broker a peace anywhere on the globe. He's a disgrace as a statesmen... an absolute disgrace. He was re-elected because enough American voters fell for his claim that he could fight terrorism effectively, not because he was a world leader. America thought they needed a cowboy - and now have come to realize that this cowboy drools on his boots.

The fact that the current batch of Republican candidates have not distanced themselves from the Bush Doctrine helps the Dems tremendously in the coming elections.

Bush had a chance right after the election to turn this around -- and maybe he could have pulled it off if he had a genuine desire for peace. He should have embraced the Iraq Study Group report and ran with it as if it was his own - refined and re-tuned it and showed the world Republicans can indeed think first and shoot later.

His ego got in the way instead - or maybe he just realized that he couldn't pull off the statesmen role -- and in desperation he reached for a military solution instead. Now that the surge is failing he'll just try to drag things out until the next election.

Heralder:

I don't have much time to comment on this today, but it sounds rather cold and calculating put in such a way..."Risk-Free" etc.

To revist what Mr. Lieberman said, i.e., "they are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hopes they will do," is not an accusation of working together with al Qaeda.

The key to that not so enigmatic statement is the followup:

"although I know that is not their intent."

You're used to having that charge levied against you, I understand. But that's not what Mr. Lieberman was doing.

The rest of your post is so contrary to my view that my fingers are itching to type more.

Perhaps tomorrow.

Steve Crickmore:

Heralder...I agree I really don't the idea of risk-free Iraq strategy or opposition to the war being wildly popular .. Larkin, let's just say - there are no good solutions to this unpalatable war. It's going to being a quaqmire, even as the door hits us on the way out..I'm not any more upbeat about leaving chaos behind for our erstwhile Iraqi supporters than staying, and maybe in the end, creating even a bigger mess.

ijosha:

"But it's rather late for that now. And Bush doesn't have the credibility to do that... even if he had the interest." -- Publicus

So, rather than Bush, maybe we can step asside for a disinterested "third party" to come in and play the negotiator for this desolving of the country. Who could that be? France? Germany? Russia?

Publicus:

ijosha --

Since Bush can negotiate an agreement, it won't get done. It's a real possibility that--no matter what anyone does--we'll have Iraq break into 3 battling states. The Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis aren't natural allies...

sean nyc/aa:

"they are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hopes they will do"
Joe Lieberman

Something conservatives conveniently ignore is (and Jon Stewart said this a few days ago in his interview with McCain):

Al Qaeda also wants us to drain our resources, both military and economic, in a protracted war.

So either way we're doing exactly what they want. This means we must ignore what they say and truly look at what is in the best interest of our country.

Now, yes a democratic stable utopia in Iraq is the best thing we could hope for, but that's all it is - hope - and hope is not a foreign policy.

I would rather withdraw most of our forces to nearby bases, maybe keep some in the Kurdish regions, keep a vigilant eye on what goes on, conduct bombing campaigns if we have intelligence of terrorist training camps, and let the Iraqis fight for their country. Now yes there will be deaths, and that is tremendously unfortunate, but we've gone through the looking glass and we must reap and deal with the consequences of our actions.

The problem with Republicans is they can't admit they were wrong and are desperate to try and redeem themselves so they can get out of this mess without acknowledging their mistake. Cause there's nothing Republicans hate more than realizing that the liberals were right.

Bo:

And the Iraqi people get thrown to the wolves to satify liberal agenda. The end.

Sean: "The problem with Republicans is they can't admit they were wrong and are desperate to try and redeem themselves so they can get out of this mess without acknowledging their mistake. Cause there's nothing Republicans hate more than realizing that the liberals were right"

I agree 100%. The fact that Republicans are willing to sacrifice American soldiers' lives for the next 20 years while they try to save face thoroughly disgusts me.

Waste tax dollars -- piss away on our allies -- $3.50 per gallon gas -- I can live with all of that as the spoils of having won the last Presidential election -- but continuing to send our men and women off to die for a failed cause -- all in the hopes of pulling a few more votes in the next election by not having to admit this war was a poorly-run mistake?

Indefensible.

P. Bunyan:

"If you could point out some problem you have with the post, I'd be happy to discuss it with you."

I'm sorry Paul. This whole post just made my skin crawl.

Is this the leftie circle jerk blog?

The point of a blog is usually not for the contributors to jack each other off in each thread.

I need to take a shower just to feel clean again after reading through this comment thread.

P. Bunyan:

O.k., you want to know what is so evil and makes my skin crawl about this post? It points out 100% clearly (although quite indirectly) that it's only a risk free, win-win strategy for the democrats, IF AMERICA LOOSES THE WAR.

You leftists need the Islamofascists to win this war for it to benefit you politically.

Now of course 80+% of the media in the country is far leftist and have been using their terrible power to support those that will give them the most political benefit. That is evil and it makes my skin crawl.

I'm not O.K. with loosing.

Somewhere around 60 million people died in WWII thanks to the leftists like Chamborlain and Limbourgh. The death toll at the end of this current confict, if the democrats and Islamofascists are allowed these early victories, could be in the billions.

sean nyc/aa:

"And the Iraqi people get thrown to the wolves to satify liberal agenda. The end."
Bo

The Iraqis were thrown to the wolves from the start of this war to satisfy the conservative agenda. To win this war we need about 500,000 troops on the ground (right now we've probably got ~250,000 including contractors). Conservatives tried to win the war on the cheap, beat their chests, and soak in the glory of their oh-so-wise military strategy. Well it failed badly and it's the conservatives fault. There's no way around that.

So if you truly want to win the war are you willing to re-instate the draft, impose a $2/gallon gas tax, volunteer to food and metal ration, turn over industry to building more armored vehicles and body armor? Because that's what it takes to win a war if you're truly committed to it, not just putting a flag in your lapel and a magnet on your car.

P. Bunyan:

Well, that's your opinion Sean, but I disagree.

The fact the democrats have come out so strongly and quickly in opposition to this new strategy tells me that they to believe it has a very good chance of succeeding, as I do. The difference is that I believe a successful conclusion (i.e. victory) in Iraq would be the best possible outcome, while the democrats know that an American victory in Iraq would be a distaster for them politically.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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