Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gallic Cynicism/French Acumen

The US regime has been testing the waters in odd sorts of way. The Resident has given several speeches recently stating that we need to stay the course in Iraq. The Vice-Resident has given several speeches which imply that anyone critical of the Iraqi war is giving aid and comfort to the terrorists in Iraq and that this is no time to be pulling out troops. Then, within a day or two of these speeches came the quiet, almost sotto voce news that the US plans to pull out several brigades after the December elections in Iraq, with plans to pull out more troops by Spring, 2006. What is going on?

The French have a pretty good idea, and it was expressed nicely in a November 25 editorial in Le Figaro.

In Iraq, the Americans are preparing to withdraw their troops in a much more organized fashion than the invasion. Every day, generals and diplomats are ever-more precise about the number of troops to be brought back in three, six or twelve months.

...This is because the front has moved. It is no longer in Baghdad, Falluja or Mosul, but in the heart of the Washington microcosm, in a fever over the fall in popularity of George Bush and with opinion surveys showing that the public has had enough of a war that has killed 2,108 soldiers to date. After Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha, a hero of Vietnam, created an uproar in Congress by calling for a withdrawal within six months of the 159,000 soldiers currently in Iraq, the White House must show that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

...The strength of the Sunni insurrection poses an obvious problem. But, even if it has taken far too long for them to be convinced of it, and even if they still refuse to say so publicly, the United States has given up overcoming the insurgency militarily.

...With a year to go before the mid-term elections in the United States, time is short. By then, George Bush will have to answer the wishes of the electorate to disengage, without giving the Arab world the impression that America has given up Iraq and its project to democratize the region. That will require a sense of nuance that this American president is not accustomed to showing.
[Emphasis added]

The logic of the argument is impeccable, if cynical. Mr. Bush has lost the trust of the American people on most issues, but nowhere more significantly than on the Iraq invasion. If he loses Congress in 2006, his term as President is effectively over. The days of his wishes becoming law will end, and he will indeed be a lame duck and a defanged wolf. Apparently the Republicans in Congress, many of whom are facing re-election in November 2006, have finally gotten through to him.

While using the soldiers as pawns in an election year is beyond disgusting, getting them home is a desired result. The Democrats shouldn't worry too much about losing this "issue" in the next election. There are plenty of other issues to run on, including the lies that got us into the war, and the budget cuts that will make the soldiers' homecoming unpleasant, to say the least.

Let's just get the men and women out of that dangerous morass.


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