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Archive for Thursday, May 3, 2007

Republicans must press Bush to alter strategy

May 3, 2007

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OK, so now the Democrats have made their point by passing an Iraq spending bill that calls for troop withdrawals as early as July. And now they can't override the president's veto.

After all this bipartisan posturing, can we finally have a serious debate about Iraq?

Now is the moment when Republicans and Democrats must focus like a laser on what must be done to prevent even greater Iraq disaster. There will be no time for Plan B if the current White House Plan A fails.

But Plan A - as currently directed by the White House - simply cannot work.

Many within the administration and the military grasp this, as does Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Many Republican senators know it. But responsible Republicans have failed to press the White House for a better Iraq strategy. Many Democrats seem more eager to see Bush fail than fight for a workable plan.

Here's the awful truth. This isn't just Bush's war. Not anymore. White House mistakes on Iraq were huge (read George Tenet's memoir, "At the Center of the Storm," for more grim details), but this is now our war, too. We all will be stuck with its awful consequences - a failed Iraqi state, more Islamist terrorism and threats to Mideast oil - if it fails.

Yet Bush's Plan A - as now being conducted - can't work. Why so?

Plan A claims a surge will buy time for the Iraqi government to shape up. In other words, the surge is only a tactic. No matter the great talents of Gen. David Petraeus and the guts of American soldiers, military action alone cannot stabilize Iraq. Our withdrawal depends on whether the Iraqi government can fashion a power-sharing accord between Shiites and Sunnis, as Petraeus told Congress this week.

Both Republicans and Democrats talk about setting benchmarks for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Democrats talk about making war funding dependent on his meeting those benchmarks. But al-Maliki is too weak to meet those benchmarks. His party has far too few seats to get laws through the national assembly that are crucial for Shiite-Sunni power sharing.

And setting timelines for U.S. withdrawal makes Shiites and Sunnis even less willing to meet benchmarks. They know, once the Americans start to leave, the fight for power in Iraq will start in earnest. So they are reluctant to make concessions, as they gird for the bigger, coming, battles.

Iraq's neighbors - Iran, Syria and Sunni Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates - sense this bigger war is coming, and more aid is flowing from these countries to Shiite and Sunni militias inside Iraq. Petraeus was right when he said a troop pullback this fall would lead to more sectarian killings.

So if Plan A won't work, and setting timelines won't work, what else to do?

Go for Plan A Plus.

Thoughtful Republicans and Democrats in Congress must press President Bush for a plan that puts Iraq's troubles into a wider strategic context. Right now the entire Mideast is expecting a wider Iraq war and this psychological dynamic makes the fighting inside Iraq worse.

The only way to change that dynamic is for the White House to embark on a serious diplomatic offensive in the region. That offensive would be aimed at convincing Iraq's neighbors their interests require them to help stabilize Baghdad. It would require broad and comprehensive talks between the United States and Iran - an approach still resisted by Vice President Cheney's office.

In such an offensive, Washington has strong cards to play. Shiite Iran and Sunni Arab states are worried that a U.S. withdrawal will lead to Iraq's collapse and will suck them into a deadly proxy war in that country. But U.S. diplomacy over Iraq has been insufficiently serious to produce a regional accord on stabilizing Iraq.

A round of regional talks were held in Baghdad in March, and another will be held this week in Egypt. Without greater U.S. boldness they will go nowhere.

Democrats and Republicans who put our security ahead of politics must try to get this message across to President Bush.

Some thoughtful Democrats, like Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., who just returned from a trip to Baghdad with Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., believe that setting a withdrawal date could help get Iran to the table. Sestak, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral, also argues, as do many senior officers, that a date certain is vital because our military is being ruined by the extended strains of the Iraq war.

These arguments are powerful. But I believe a timeline is a card best played as part of a regional negotiating process. To set a timeline before such talks would weaken the U.S. hand and intensify the fighting inside Iraq.

However, if Republicans don't want a timeline, responsible Republicans in Congress need to tell the president they can no longer support him on Iraq unless he embarks on a major Mideast diplomatic offensive, with the full weight of the White House behind it. No more Cheney versus the rest on Iraq policy.

Without a Plan A Plus, Congress may have no choice but to set deadlines. It's time for thoughtful Republicans to act.

- Trudy Rubin is a columnist and editorial-board member for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Comments

OZ 6 years, 11 months ago

. . . . Brought to you by The Bush Crime Family X-tian Casket Company

the AWOL, ALCOHOLIC, COCAINE ADDICTED, HYPOCRITICAL X-TIAN, DRY DRUNK, FUNCTIONING ILLITERATE, PEDOPHILE LOVING, BAGHDAD BUSH aka the IDIOT DUBYA continues to MURDER & TORTURE & SPEND TAX MONEY . . U.S. MILITARY DEATHS IN IRAQ: 3,355 and rising . . .

U.S. MILITARY WOUNDED & MAIMED IN IRAQ: 79,900 and rising . . .

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEAD men, DEAD women and DEAD CHILDREN (MINIMUM): 689,500 and rising . (the IDIOT liar DUBYA flippantly "admits" 30,000 12-12-05) . . 1,577 (plus) DEAD from KATRINA and the AWOL, ALCOHOLIC, COCAINE ADDICTED, DRY DRUNK, FUNCTIONING ILLITERATE, PEDOPHILE LOVING, IDIOT DUBYA'S incompetence and willful neglect all while on FIVE WEEK VACATION; the IDIOT DUBYA KILLS AT HOME, TOO! . .

the AWOL, ALCOHOLIC, COCAINE ADDICTED, DRY DRUNK, FUNCTIONING ILLITERATE, PEDOPHILE LOVING, BAGHDAD BUSH AKA IDIOT DUBYA'S "FAMILY" members injured, maimed or dead in Iraq or even SERVING their COUNTRY in MILITARY SERVICE = N--O--N--E !!!! . . The AWOL, ALCOHOLIC, COCAINE ADDICTED, DRY DRUNK, FUNCTIONING ILLITERATE, BAGHDAD BUSH aka IDIOT DUBYA'S administration has drafted amendments (chief author was "Speedy-I Don't remember" Gonzales) to the War Crimes Act that RETROACTIVELY protects policy-makers from possible criminal charges for authorizing humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees, according to lawyers who have seen the proposal. The White House, without elaboration, said in a statement that the bill "will apply to any conduct by any U.S. personnel, whether committed before or after the law is enacted. . This amendment is NOT the action of innocent people. Innocent until TORTURED GUILTY. . . Of course, the incompetent, seditious and treasonous Condi Rice, DISMISSING Tenet's warnings on July 10, 2001, that OSSAMA BIN LADEN will ATTACK the UNITED STATES & the AWOL, ALCOHOLIC, COCAINE ADDICTED, DRY DRUNK, FUNCTIONING ILLITERATE, BAGHDAD BUSH aka the IDIOT DUBYA IGNORING the Presidential Daily Briefing, Dated, August 06, 2001, that OSSAMA BIN LADEN will ATTACK the UNITED STATES, is responsible for ALL the DEATHS of 9-11. . . "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the SUPREME INTERNATIONAL CRIME differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." -- US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, presiding Nuremburg Trials 1946 . . . $ 768 BILLION DOLLARS of American TAXPAYER MONEY Spent by the IDIOT DUBYA on IRAQ and IRAQIS, NOT on America or for Americans.Including $12 BILLION sent to Iraq IN CASH that subsequently and immediately disappeared, its weight was 340 TONS . . . . Praise CHEESES and TAX ALL CULTS ! ! ! . . . .

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OZ 6 years, 11 months ago

. . . . "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." --The IDIOT DUBYA and his state of the union speech of 2003, the INFAMOUS 16 words (LIES) . . "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam [Hussein], which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." --Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen quoting Bush when they met in Aqaba . . Wars of aggression are the most barbarous of all human endeavors and are, more often than not, the instruments of insane tyrants who hear voices.
--Rodrigue Tremblay . .

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." the AWOL, ALCOHOLIC, COCAINE ADDICTED, DRY DRUNK, FUNCTIONING ILLITERATE, PEDOPHILE LOVING, BAGHDAD BUSH aka the IDIOT DUBYA . "When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." --Sinclair Lewis . . . "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." --The IDIOT DUBYA 04/9/99 Houston Chronicle . .

"I think it's also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn." --The IDIOT DUBYA 06/5/99 Seattle Post-Intelligencer . . ."The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." the AWOL, ALCOHOLIC, COCAINE ADDICTED, DRY DRUNK, BAGHDAD BUSH aka the IDIOT DUBYA- -Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2001 . .

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." the AWOL, ALCOHOLIC, COCAINE ADDICTED, DRY DRUNK, BAGHDAD BUSH aka the IDIOT DUBYA --Washington, D.C., March 13, 2002 . . . 3,355 American Soldiers are DEAD due to the LIES of the IDIOT DUBYA at a financial cost of $8 BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH! . .. No further discussion is required, END the IDIOT DUBYA'S WAR based on LIES and SUPPORT our TROOPS by BRINGING THEM HOME ALIVE AND SAFE with PROPER HEALTH CARE WAITING FOR THEM!

. . Priase CHEESES and TAX ALL CULTS ! ! ! . . .

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greyheim 6 years, 11 months ago

I for one could support this approach by the WH and it would serve to give Bush some more credibility and leverage with Congress and the American people with this issue and more. But Cheney is a cancer and I doubt has the courage to go for an approach that actually makes sense. It's why we're in this mess in the first place. As long as those people are in the WH we will not see an even-handed, logical approach to this problem.

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