Democrats & Liberals Archives

Changing Course

Last November, Americans voted for a course change in Iraq. It’s long been obvious that there aren’t enough US troops in Iraq to clamp down on sectarian violence, as well as train Iraqi police and army units and secure Iraq’s borders and hunt down foreign fighters and provide logistics and rebuild infrastructure and provide security for civilian reconstruction teams and Iraqi and US diplomats among other missions. Obviously, the Iraq plan needs revision.

Either hundreds of thousands more troops must be sent to Iraq in a long-term deployment to achieve all the various tasks demanded of the military under the existing plan, or the mission must be changed to reflect the much smaller number of troops the Bush administration is willing to deploy. I believe the American people would have accepted either option, as it's obvious that a bold move is needed.

Unfortunately, President Bush chose to stick to the same old strategy and send only a small fraction of the additional troops necessary to implement it. In fact, General Petraeus spent the last couple days telling lawmakers in Washington that, despite the surge, "the level of violence has generally been unchanged" and he needs an additional five brigades for Baghdad alone.

Now, Democrats in Congress -- with support of some Republicans -- sent President Bush a bill that would change the mission in Iraq to one that is achievable by the relatively small number of troops President Bush is willing to commit. The bill gives the troops all the support they need, and narrows the mission to hunting down al-Qaeda, training Iraqi troops and protecting our interests in the country.

That's a mission that can be achieved without completely destroying our military (two-thirds of all Army and Army National Guard units are currently rated unfit for combat), or restarting the draft. It's a mission that will allow our soldiers to rest, train and re-equip between deployments. It's a mission that will ensure our National Guard units and their equipment are available for catastrophes on the home front, like another Hurricane Katrina. And it's a mission that will maintain our commitment to Iraq.

The bill sets no firm timetables for the mission change, only goals. The exact timing is left to President Bush and the Generals on the ground in Iraq.

Unfortunately, President Bush says he is not interested in giving our military an achievable mission. He is committed to a course that ensures our military will fail. He is committed to a course that has already rendered two-thirds of our Army and National Guard units unfit for combat. President Bush is committed to a course that ensures our National Guard will not be ready to guard our nation when it is needed.

Most Americans favor the change of course spelled out in the Iraq funding bill (full text). As elections near, enough Republicans in Congress will have an epiphany and throw their support behind this bill or the next, making it veto-proof. Until that happens, our military will valiantly struggle to implement President Bush's unrealistic strategy -- for which he has provided them just enough troops to fail.

Posted by American Pundit at April 30, 2007 11:30 PM
Comments
Comment #218978

There will be no changing course in Iraq, because the Democrats don’t have the guts to represent the will of the majority of Americans. They put their 2008 elections before the will of the people, and forcing Bush’s hand has a backfire risk attached, the war just might end before the elections, and that would not be as good for Democratic prospects in ‘08.

Personal career before nation. Party before the American people. Standard fare for the Republocratic party of duopoly.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 1, 2007 8:40 PM
Comment #219007
There will be no changing course in Iraq

There will eventually be a change of course, oh Amazing Karnak. But right now, Congress doesn’t have the votes to attach strings to the money for our troops. I think they will by this summer.

I know they’re floating the idea of funding the troops for the next two months only, then sending a new bill later when they can peel off more Republican votes.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 1, 2007 11:58 PM
Comment #219021

American Pundit, one thing Democrats DON’T have that Republicans did, was solidarity in action. The Democrats are falling into pieces like an ancient sugar cookie left in the sun. There is no consensus now amongst Democrats on how to proceed from here. And that is a weakness the non-moderate Republicans will exploit to the hilt. Mark my words.

This war will not end until the new President is sworn in OR, Bush decides to end it in his last few months to give Republican candidates an edge. It would be the legacy thing to do.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 2, 2007 2:59 AM
Comment #219040

>>American Pundit, one thing Democrats DON’T have that Republicans did, was solidarity in action. The Democrats are falling into pieces like an ancient sugar cookie left in the sun. There is no consensus now amongst Democrats on how to proceed from here. And that is a weakness the non-moderate Republicans will exploit to the hilt. Mark my words.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 2, 2007 02:59 AM

I agree, David…that is both their strength and their weakness…much like all the independent parties out there. If/when all in a party are in lockstep (read ditto heads), we end up with current events. Dems are a varied bunch and seldom agree totally on any given measure, but added together this varied bunch has given America much more than those ‘other’ guys.

Posted by: Marysdude at May 2, 2007 9:54 AM
Comment #219134

Marysdude, quite right and accurate to say it is both their strength and Achille’s Heel. I couldn’t agree more. Still, the past does not HAVE to be the future. There are a couple issues the DNC and Dem. Leadership could insist be made non-compromisable, like changing the course in Iraq.

They have the power to do this. Not without other costs, of course, but, they have the power to force their fold to move uniformly on a single issue if they chose to. The power of the purse of the DNC and Leadership assignments is sufficient to force wayward democrats to it. But, it is a power that Democrats are not comfortable wielding. LBJ was the last Democrat to wield such power successfully, and he did used it to back the prolonging the Viet Nam War.

The effects of that ill-fated use of party leadership coercive power toward the wrong ends, is still being felt today by the Democratic Leadership. But, they fear the power, rather than sanely recognizing the true lesson, the power exercised is not inherently going to lead to disaster, the ends to which the power is used largely determines that.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 2, 2007 9:04 PM
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