Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rove: Iraq Unlikely to be so Important in 2008

John Amato of the liberal blog Crooks and Liars excerpts a segment from NBC Nightly News in which it is reported that Karl Rove doesn't believe Iraq will be a big issue in 2008, because 'he hopes' that troops will be coming home from Iraq.

Bob Novak reported some months ago that the White House was convinced of the need for a drawdown by the end of 2007. Events since then have made it clearer that such an outcome is probably unavoidable. That's due not only to the climate in the US Congress, but to other factors as well.

It remains an open question what will follow the current surge (although the President is reportedly focusing more on the 'next phase'). Most of the presidential candidates on both sides agree that a residual US force should remain, with responsibility for continuing operations. Even if they are forced to sit by and watch a genocidal civil war (as the New York Times favors), they are likely to be pursuing Al Qaeda and training troops -- at least.

But with the major combat role over, and US troops unlikely to take an active role in fighting insurgents generally, the Iraq war will play a reduced role in the 2008 election. It's more likely that at least with regard to national security, voters will be focused on Iran -- or North Korea, or some other growing threat -- rather than Iraq. The candidates had better be prepared to address those issues, and not allow the debate over Iraq to hem them into untenable positions.

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