The resolution says nothing about how large the reduction should be, or makes the slightest attempt to define what is meant by the “limited presence” expected for the long term in Iraq..
In fact, Section 4, subsection 2, calls on the President to provide “a justification of the minimum force levels required to protect United States national security interests in Iraq after April 1, 2008” – a statement which unmistakably anticipates a continued presence in the country (of unspecified scope and dimension) after the purported deadline for “withdrawal.”
Contrary to the New York Times headline and support, the resolution never mentions the withdrawal of “Combat Troops from Iraq by April 1.In fact, the resolution explicitly anticipates that US forces will indefinitely involve themselves in “engaging in actions to disrupt and eliminate al-Qaeda and its affiliated organizations in Iraq.” If this isn’t combat, what is it? The same passage (Section 4, Subsection 3) also acknowledges that our soldiers will stay in country for the sake of “protecting United States diplomatic facilities and United States citizens” and “training and equipping members of the Iraq Security Forces.”
Even Democratic military and foreign policy experts agree that accomplishing these purposes will require a substantial U.S. force. Dick Morris said that his sources in the Clinton campaign suggest that it’s realistic to expect the long-term presence in Iraq of at least 75,000 U.S. troops – about half our current contingent.
In other words, when Democrats talk about “ending the war” or “bringing the boys back home” they are lying in order to mollify their activist, anti-war base. The resolution that the party’s leadership crafted provides for a semi-permanent Iraq presence, not a quick end to the war. The Cindy Sheehan/Michael Moore “Peace” wing of the party would feel furious and betrayed if the media told them the truth about what the “anti-war resolution” actually contained.
Meanwhile, the GOP hasn’t pointed out the Democratic distortions because they hope to associate their opponents with the irresponsible position of “immediate withdrawal” and “abject surrender.” The Democrats won’t talk about how moderate and cautious their resolution really is because they don’t want to upset or disappoint their impatient, “impeach Bush” supporters. The Republicans won’t tell the truth because they don’t want to show that their rivals have actually suggested an alternate in strategy, not an end to the ongoing US commitment or the abrupt abandonment of our Iraqi allies.
At the same time, the press failed to do its job because the public seems to relish a bitter grudge match between advocates of “bring ‘em home” and defenders of “stay the course.” The real debate concerns redeployment, not withdrawal; a shift in strategy, not a total reorientation in policy. In other words, the fight on Capitol Hill hardly qualifies as the desperate, fateful clash-of-worldviews battle that major media love to describe in such breathless (and dishonest) tones.
The GOP still possesses the trump-card argument: that when it comes to these adjustments involving our mission in Iraq, the nation should place more trust in General Petraeus than in General Pelosi (or General Reid, for that matter).
President Bush has displayed admirable courage and clarity in defending this essential principle of giving military control to the military leadership, not to hack politicians of either party addicted to pandering and grandstanding.
It will only strengthen his case – and further highlight Democratic hypocrisy – if he highlights the true content of the meaningless and timid House Resolution, rather than going along with the political and media charade suggesting that we’re actually debating an end to a necessary war.