Don't buy into George Bush's Iraq trap
Many Democrats who won this year had endorsed the Murtha plan for a staged withdrawl from Iraq.
The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group released its recommendations and also called for a withdrawl.
Yet, just two weeks ago it began to be reported that the President wanted to propose a 'surge' in troop strength, and was opposed by Generals.
So now, the Generals appear to have flip-flopped and back Bush (well, the last General to publically oppose the President on troop levels, Eric Shinseki before the war started, was forced to leave the army. The lesson clearly has not been lost.)
To start with, his proposal to increase troop strength by 20,000 troops is stupid. But I actually don't think he is planning to. More on that later.
If we increased troops by 20,000 it would make no difference. Shinseki's recommendation in 2002 (based on a 1999 exercise which quantified it) was that 400,000 troops total (265,000 more than are there now) would be needed to prevent an insurgency. Adding what amounts to a spit in the bucket of 20,000 today won't stop it, because it would be hundreds of thousands too little, and several years too late.
And George Bush knows that. So do the generals. But that isn't really his plan.
He will say it is because he is shifting the frame of the debate. Instead of it being between 'stay the course' (his position) and 'withdraw' (the progressive position) which he would certainly lose, what he plans to do is try and get people debating the 'surge' (i.e. ratcheting up the war.) Those opposed are then debating against increasing troops, and as such are by default arguing only to not increase them (i.e. maintaining current levels-- 'staying the course.') He knows he doesn't have the votes in the new Congress to win, but what he is trying to do is play the Democrats for chumps, and get people to forget that we were talking about how to get out. Then he can lose the vote in Congress but still end up 'staying the course' (what he wants anyway). Only then that will become the the Democratic position (because it was in opposition to his 'new' position), and then if Iraq continues to deteriorate (as it will) and we continue to lose American troops (which we will) then it becomes the fault of Democrats.
In other words, he is trying to unload his lemon onto us.
If we fall for that, then we really are stupid. But unfortunately, based on what I've heard, there are some on the left who seem ready to take up this no-win debate. For example, in today's radio address Congressman-elect Jerry McNerney said that Democrats will oppose deploying any new troops there. Nothing at all about plans to withdraw or seek a political solution. So it appears, despite his line about seeking a 'new direction' (a politically meaningless catchword that can be applied to almost anything) that the good Congressman-elect is being roped into a plan to in effect debate in favor of continuing the President's current policy and stay in Iraq indefinitely.
We as Democrats should be firm on this:
1. The voters want us to get troops out of Iraq, not leave them there.
2. The Murtha plan is a militarily sound plan that spells out a path to withdrawl of U.S. forces from Iraq.
3. The bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission (I.S.G.) studied all the problems of Iraq and concluded that withdrawl is the only realistic military option for the United States.
4. The United States and other countries in the region, as well as factions within Iraq need to work to find a political, not a military solution. Iraq's problems can only be solved by a political solution, not a solution imposed by military force.