It's not too difficult to read the handwriting on the wall and conclude that the 2008 election cycle could be an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party if the situation in Iraq remains unchanged. The American people have become literally unhinged at President Bush for his abysmal mismanagement of the occupation of Iraq which has been plagued by blunders and missteps from the very beginning.
While administration spokesmen claim that the jury is still out on whether the surge strategy will be successful, behind the scenes they must be utterly dismayed at the total lack of progress in Iraq. The US has spent almost $20 billion building up the Iraqi army and police but they are still not ready:
The security forces are not capable of taking over security responsibility, as timelines for transition are repeatedly extended and violence has not significantly decreased across Iraq," the oversight panel of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee said in the report.
While some 350,000 police and soldiers have been trained, the Pentagon isn't sure where most of them are, whether they still have their weapons and if they can perform their missions. Many may have dissolved back into the militias they came from taking their uniforms, weapons and training with them. In addition, the corrupt and incompetent regime of Nouri al-Maliki has made no progress at all on achieving a political reconciliation with the disenchanted Sunni minority and the country's slide into civil war appears inevitable. It's unlikely that we will see a rapid turnaround in these areas anytime soon.
So what is the Republican Party to do in the "no-win" situation they have gotten us into in Iraq? I hate to give them the answer to the dilemma they are in because I fervently hope that they will go the way of the Whigs, but I think I have figured out what they are going to do anyway: blame the Iraqis and start pulling out.
Bush will go to the country and explain that, while the surge was successful on the ground, the Iraqi government has failed to meet the objectives he laid out for them and he has decided (since he's the "decider") to begin drawing down forces. This will of course be utterly hypocritical and inconsistent with prior rhetoric (e.g., "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here"), but the American people will forget all of that and quickly embrace the idea that we're finally getting out of Iraq.
As long as the troop levels are on a steady downward track by the fall of 2008, the Republicans could be spared a complete rout at the polls. By committing to a course of withdrawal they would blur the differences between themselves and the Democrats on Iraq. It wouldn't be a question of whether we are getting out, but only a matter of how quickly. Iraq wouldn't be the sort of decisive burning issue that it was in 2006, and the Republicans would give themselves a fighting chance.
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!