Saturday, January 06, 2007

I Hear Okinawa Is Nice, Especially This Time Of Year

It didn't take long for the new Congressional leadership to make their feelings about Iraq known to President Bush. In a letter sent to the president yesterday, Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi said "The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do not believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people." The November election was a mid-term Congressional election not a Presidential election and the vote tally certainly didn't provide the new Congressional leadership with any kind of “mandate” regarding the war.

Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi go on to quote General John Abizaid at length from his Senate Armed Services testimony of November 15, 2006 to buttress their contention that “surging” additional American troops “will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point”. They even go so far as to offer the following plan:

“Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement. In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.”

In direct opposition to this "plan", here are some quotes from General Abizaid’s prepared statement from November 15, 2006 (emphasis added):

“Today the committee will no doubt focus on the way ahead in Iraq and rightfully so. Yet we must be mindful of increasing threats from Iran as evidenced by its recent military exercise, which was designed to intimidate the smaller nations in the region. We must also be mindful of the real and pervasive global threat presented by al Qaida and its associated movements. Failure to stabilize Iraq could increase Iranian aggressiveness and embolden al Qaida’s ideology. It could also deepen broader Sunni-Shia fissures throughout the region. The changing security challenges in Iraq require changes to our own approach to achieve stability. Let me remind the committee, however, that while new options are explored and debated, my testimony should not be taken to imply approval of shifts in direction.”

“Our commanders and diplomats believe it is possible to achieve an endstate in Iraq that finds Iraq at peace with its neighbors, an ally in the war against extremists, respectful of the lives and rights of its citizens, and with security forces sufficient to maintain order, prevent terrorist safe havens and defend the independence of Iraq. At this stage in the campaign, we’ll need flexibility to manage our force and to help manage the Iraqi force. Force caps and specific timetables limit flexibility. We must also remember that our enemies have a vote in this fight. The enemy watches not only what we do on the ground but what we say and do here at home."

Indeed, they do. And while Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi opine that only the Iraqi’s “can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq” I fear the Iranians and al Qaida might think they have something to say about it as well. All they have to do is wait while the new Congressional leadership does the heavy lifting for them by forcing a US troop withdrawal from Iraq. Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi’s utter and total misunderstanding of the situation will have a profound immediate and long term impact as they begin to make their influence felt in this debate.

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