Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss…

WaPo: Democrats’ Struggle to Change Course in Iraq Has Produced Much Debate, Little Action.

Politico: Anti-war leaders stymied, frustrated.

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2 thoughts on “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss…

  1. Tim September 11, 2007 / 7:20 am

    An op-ed in today’s Melbourne The Age calls it “America’s Phoney Debate.”

    “….Irrespective of the partisanship and hyperbole that the debate will engender, there are three reasons not to expect significant strategic changes in US Iraq policy before the end of the Bush Administration.

    First, the American military does not have the capability to sustain troop levels in Iraq past the northern hemisphere spring of 2008 without calling up Reserve units or further extending the 15-month tours of those already deployed. After years at war, US ground forces — particularly the army — are under great strain, making it unlikely that Bush will take drastic measures that would be politically unpopular and, more importantly, risk the future of America’s all-volunteer military. Whether or not the President brings a token brigade home before Christmas, as some have recommended, most analysts expect that American forces will begin to slowly decline from around 160,000 troops in April next year to about 130,000 by the end of the next northern summer. In essence, there will be an “unsurge” early next year that will reduce US troops to levels the American military can better sustain. Although the Administration may attempt to portray this as a significant drawdown to mollify its critics, don’t be fooled.

    Second, it is unlikely that Bush will make further significant withdrawals before leaving the White House. While there are some indications that the increased presence of American troops has helped to lower violence in some areas (at least for now), Sunni-Shiite tensions appear to be intensifying and the political accommodation that the surge was designed to produce seems to be ever more distant. As former secretary of state Colin Powell has said, American troops may be able to “keep a lid on this boiling pot of sectarian stew”, but the ultimate outcome in Iraq rests with the Iraqi people. Bush will have an incentive to keep the proverbial lid on Iraq’s civil war for as long as possible and bequeath to the next president the hard choices about when and how to remove it.

    Third, although Democrats control Congress, they do not have a veto-proof majority in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Unless a significant number of Republicans break with the President and side with the Democratic opposition, any legislatively mandated end to the war will remain impossible. Moreover, most centrist Democrats will not sign up to legislation that cuts off funding for troops on the ground. Congress is extremely unlikely to be able to take action that would prevent Bush from pursuing his desired strategy.

    Given these fixed strategic parameters, one should not expect this week’s debate over the “surge” to result in any significant change in America’s approach to the war in Iraq…..”

    The Age article doesn’t expect any serious change to the debate dynamics until next year. That means about 700 to 1000 or so more US military deaths in Iraq before the policy deadlock can even start to clear. Can the US political system handle that? Sure, no problem. Not so for the families of the men and women involved.

  2. Daniel McCarthy September 12, 2007 / 6:09 am

    Yep, that’s about the size of it. At some point, after a botched draw down sometime into the next’s president’s administration, this paralysis is going to lead to a Vietnam-style withdrawal, helicopters and all. Even the war’s supporters, the ones that can read, anyway, don’t seem to think the war can be won. But it can be protracted and blamed on somebody else at little political cost–and a high cost in blood. Ain’t representative democracy wonderful?

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