Conservative pundits continue to paint the Democrats who are calling for an Iraq withdrawal timetable as playing into the hands of terrorists. As wrong as that may be it is simply too easy and expedient to dismiss this criticism as the election-time posturing it is without offering an alternative.
Here's an approach I think is worth considering.
- It's time for the Democrats to get tough with the President.
Congress holds the purse strings, and Congress can choose to deny Bush 43 the funds to continue flailing about in Iraq, and should do exactly that. The "surge" was given a chance, and we can now see that it isn't working - it's time to pull the plug and bring our fighting men and women home.
Note that I said we should "choose" to defund the war, I didn't say we should publicize this choice.
- Leaders in Congress should sit down with Bush behind closed doors and press the President for a realistic withdrawal timetable, using their ability to defund the war immediately as a negotiation incentive.
It's obvious Bush isn't going to budge. He seems determined to never admit his mistake -- and we know from his proclamation four year ago that it was "Mission Accomplished"... that he will say anything he has to say to help the GOP's chances in an election. It's time to quit playing nice and hoping the President will come around; he's clearly intent on dragging this out and extracting whatever political advantage he can muster before the next election.
He's publicly declared repeatedly this last week that he has no intention of giving in to the will of the American people on this issue.
- Next, bring in representatives from the Iraqi government, along with the best U.S. military minds, and hammer out a strategy and timetable for exiting Iraq that has input from all of the important players and stakeholders.
In my view we cannot trust the representatives of the Shiite and Sunni factions who serve in the Iraqi parliament to the extent needed to bring them in on the plan, and I don't think we're under any obligation to do so anyway. They got plenty to do anyway, and what happens post-withdrawal in Iraq -- whether it is time build a wall in Baghdad, coming up with a plan for the distribution of oil revenues, and coming up with a restructuring of the Iraqi government so that a peace can be negotiated -- those are all tasks that are better handled without our intervention anyway.
We also need to recognize that our withdrawal from Iraq will reduce the insurgency, and facilitate the start of a peace-building process. There has been no incentive for al-Maliki to forge a peace up to the this point - knowing our timetable for withdrawal he'll have no choice but to get serious.
- The resulting agreed upon timetable need not be made public. In fact, it's probably better if it isn't made public.
Pelosi/Reid could even avoid mentioning specifics of the timetable and the dates involved, or go one step further and avoid any mention that an agreed upon timetable even exists. Congress could then pass a war funding bill that makes no mention of the existence of a timetable, but provides funding adequate to get the job done.
Let the insurgents believe what they want to believe at this point. We could even choose to incorporate misinformation in the form of a false withdrawal timetable -- intentionally designed to mislead the insurgents
The criticism that a timetable signals the insurgent factions and allows them to plan and prepare has some validity. Whether that knowledge offers them any real strategic value can be debated, but let's just choose to not publicize our specific timetable plans, and in the process eliminate the argument against a timetable at the same time we avoid disclosing our specific plans to the enemy.
Who says that an Iraqi withdrawal timetable has to be made public, or that we even need to announce that such a plan exists?
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!