Friday, October 20, 2006

About Damned Time!

There's nothing like an election to get politicians' attention, especially when one party stands to lose its majority in at least one of the two houses of Congress. When the cause of that potential loss is as clearly identifiable as it is in this election, suddenly that issue becomes worthy of scrutiny. The American public has made it clear that it believes the war in Iraq is a disaster and that it wants US troops (and the billions of US dollars we keep throwing down that rat hole) out of Iraq sooner rather than later. Republican lawmakers are now willing to re-examine the matter after more than three years of rubber stamping everything on the regime's wish list and demonizing every Democrat who has suggested that a timed withdrawal is the only way out. From today's Washington Post:

The growing doubts among GOP lawmakers about the administration's Iraq strategy, coupled with the prospect of Democratic wins in next month's midterm elections, will soon force the Bush administration to abandon its open-ended commitment to the war, according to lawmakers in both parties, foreign policy experts and others involved in policymaking.

Senior figures in both parties are coming to the conclusion that the Bush administration will be unable to achieve its goal of a stable, democratic Iraq within a politically feasible time frame. Agitation is growing in Congress for alternatives to the administration's strategy of keeping Iraq in one piece and getting its security forces up and running while 140,000 U.S. troops try to keep a lid on rapidly spreading sectarian violence.

Few officials in either party are talking about an immediate pullout of U.S. combat troops. But interest appears to be growing in several broad ideas. One would be some kind of effort to divide the country along regional lines. Another, favored by many Democrats, is a gradual withdrawal of troops over a set period of time. A third would be a dramatic scaling-back of U.S. ambitions in Iraq, giving up on democracy and focusing only on stability.

Many senior Republicans with close ties to the administration also believe that essential to a successful strategy in Iraq are an aggressive new diplomatic initiative to secure a Middle East peace settlement and a new effort to engage Iraq's neighbors, such as Syria and Iran, in helping stabilize the country -- perhaps through an international conference.

One point on which adherents of these sharply different approaches appear to agree is that "staying the course" is fast becoming a dead letter. "I don't believe that we can continue based on an open-ended, unconditional presence," said Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, a centrist Maine Republican. "I don't think there's any question about that, that there will be a change" in the U.S. strategy in Iraq after next month's elections."
[Emphasis added]

More than 2700 soldier deaths and 600,000 Iraqi deaths later, our esteemed representatives are finally getting the picture. The war was a mistake misbegotten in lies to begin with, and its prosecution a deadly comedy of errors from the start. Both sides of the aisle in Congress are finally ready to do something about it. While it is shameful that it took a looming election to get somebody's attention, at least it happened.

Like I said, it's about damned time.


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