Democrat senators Joseph Biden and Carl Levin appeared on "Fox News Sunday" to promote their toothless resolution against the president's troop "surge" in Iraq, but ended up unwittingly reinforcing their party's image as lacking the requisite seriousness to run the war.
Levin said, "It is a political solution which is needed in Iraq. Recent events prove that you can make some political progress perhaps without deepening military involvement by the United States."
While there's no doubt that Iraqi politics are quite relevant, Levin's formulation is precisely backward. Though we've been urging Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to quit protecting Moqtada al-Sadr and his militia, it wasn't until he gave the United States the green light to drop the hammer on the mini-tyrant that Sadr ended his boycott and sent his political flunkies scurrying back to the Iraqi parliament.
So yes, politics matters. But the lesson is that terrorists and lawless insurgents only understand the politics of force. You don't extract results from them by jawboning around a conference table. You either use force or credibly threaten it. Whether our government follows up is another matter, but this is a start, and it wasn't achieved through highbrowed diplomacy.
Sen. Biden sidestepped Chris Wallace's question as to whether his and Levin's resolution would embolden the enemy and Osama bin Laden and discourage our troops, as Vice President Cheney suggested.
Biden responded with an ad hominem attack against Cheney, saying, "He doesn't know what he's talking about. He has yet to be right one single time on Iraq."
Fine, Senator. We can stipulate that you still hate Cheney. But how about the question?
Instead of answering, Biden said, "Bin Laden isn't the issue here. The issue is, there's a civil war. Does anyone support using American troops to fight a civil war?"
Sorry, Senator, but our premature withdrawal would serve to validate bin Laden, embolden the enemy and discourage our troops. Bin Laden personally may not be the issue. But the terrorists' attitude does matter, and it will be affected by outcome of the Iraq war.
But Biden and his cohorts obviously can't get past their simplistic view that Iraq is purely a civil war, free from significant external influences, excepting ours, and whose outcome will be free of external consequences. Biden said, "There's an overwhelming consensus that we should de-escalate the war."
Wouldn't it be nice if it were so easy? Biden presents childishly false choices. It's not a matter of whether people are for or against the war in Iraq, as if it is neatly contained and perfectly isolated.