Since the 2006 elections are fast approaching and the war is the most important national issue, wouldn't it be helpful to prepare a simple flow chart to compare the Bush administration's policy on the war with that of his Democratic critics?
One would think such an exercise would be unnecessary, since everyone knows what each side is advocating. But as ridiculous as it seems, no one has yet to flush out the Democrats on their position and the consequences flowing from it. They continue to hide behind their naked criticisms of President Bush and his policies, offering no intelligible alternative policy.
Nonsense, you say. Democrats are demanding withdrawal. Are they? To be sure, they make loud noises about withdrawal, but when Republicans have forced a vote on it, most of them have run for the tall grass. Instead, they throw out meaningless or misleading terms like "benchmarks" or "redeployment," which buy them more time to slander Bush without offering a plan of their own that can be evaluated or for which they can later be held accountable.
So let's proceed to construct a flow chart. On one side we have President Bush's clearly articulated position, which he reaffirmed at Monday's press conference. We will remain in Iraq until the mission is completed: when Iraqi security forces can provide stability and protection for the newly formed government. We will continue vigorous enforcement of the Patriot Act and the NSA surveillance program. We will encourage the ongoing sharing of intelligence between agencies, the tracking of terrorists' finances and will oppose terrorist-sponsoring regimes.
The Democrats' position is to emasculate the Patriot Act, the NSA surveillance program, and the monitoring of terrorists' finances. Their position on Iraq is less clear, and less unified. Most are demanding withdrawal, but only part of them really mean it.
The group that doesn't mean it clamors for withdrawal, but denies it is advocating "cutting and running." No, it favors "phased" withdrawal to be effectuated as Iraqi security forces are able to handle the primary security duties themselves. Policy-wise, this group adds nothing to the mix, so they add nothing to the flow chart. They offer only hollow, destructive criticism, which undermines the commander in chief and damages troop morale.
Nor is their insistence that Iraqi troops be trained more quickly a policy difference. Training is a matter of implementation. Everyone, including President Bush, wants the troops trained as quickly as possible. But all the carping from this group won't make it happen any faster, nor would their assumption of leadership. The troops will be ready when they're ready.