Tuesday, March 13, 2007

WPost, Koppel Oppose Dems' Iraq Withdrawal Plan

When I predicted that the Democrats had blundered badly with their proposal to try to force a withdrawal through the Iraq supplemental, I had not counted on some institutions in the MSM opposing it. The Washington Post excoriates them:

The Democratic proposal doesn't attempt to answer the question of why August 2008 is the right moment for the Iraqi government to lose all support from U.S. combat units. It doesn't hint at what might happen if American forces were to leave at the end of this year -- a development that would be triggered by the Iraqi government's weakness. It doesn't explain how continued U.S. interests in Iraq, which holds the world's second-largest oil reserves and a substantial cadre of al-Qaeda militants, would be protected after 2008; in fact, it may prohibit U.S. forces from returning once they leave.

In short, the Democratic proposal to be taken up this week is an attempt to impose detailed management on a war without regard for the war itself. Will Iraq collapse into unrestrained civil conflict with "massive civilian casualties," as the U.S. intelligence community predicts in the event of a rapid withdrawal? Will al-Qaeda establish a powerful new base for launching attacks on the United States and its allies? Will there be a regional war that sucks in Iraqi neighbors such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey? The House legislation is indifferent: Whether or not any of those events happened, U.S. forces would be gone.

The House bill lists benchmarks for Iraqi political progress and requires that President Bush certify by July 1 that progress is being made toward them. By October, Bush would have to certify that the benchmarks all had been reached. This is something of a trick, akin to the inflexible troop readiness requirements that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) wanted to impose to "stop the surge." Everyone knows that the long list of requirements -- including constitutional changes, local elections and the completion of complex legislation -- couldn't be finished in six months. In that case a troop withdrawal would have to begin immediately. If there was no "progress" by July, it would have to begin then and be completed by the end of the year.

and Ted Koppel doesn't think much of it either:

Hat Tip: Riehl

It appears the vast majority of House Republicans will oppose the measure, and if the Washington Post is editorializing in opposition, it's unlikely to be politically costly. With influential Blue Dogs like Dan Boren stating opposition to a date certain for withdrawal, Pelosi and Murtha will not have many votes to spare. It appears the Democrats may once again have bitten off more than they can chew.

Read also: Captain Ed

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