First I am going to point you to an article by the National Catholic Reporter and the reason I am starting there is because they are an organization that has opposed military interventions into Iraq from the very first Gulf War in 1991, yet after the testimony given by General Petraeus, they now argue against a precipitous withdrawal.
The recent report to Congress by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker turned out to be a sobering moment for Americans listening in on testimony that was, at the very least, refreshing for its lack of bombast and empty promises. War-weary Americans, now torn between Democrats screaming for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops and Republicans continuing to justify pressing on to some illusory “victory,” could at least find reassurance in the measure of honesty that was provided by two people charged with a high level of responsibility for the outcome.
NCR has opposed military interventions into Iraq from the very first Gulf War in 1991, fearing from the start what has come to pass. Iraq is a country destroyed. That awareness does little, however, to alter the current mess. It is with great reluctance that we would argue against a precipitous withdrawal. With the Petraeus-Crocker testimony, it appears we now have before us a degree of reality that provides some space for us to begin talking about how to retreat from Iraq with the least possible further bloodshed and the best possible outcome for Iraq.
The reason I started with that particular article is because it defines the problems that are now facing the Democratic politicians and their upcoming plans to fight against Victory in Iraq at every turn.
Next we turn to The World Tribune, which also explains the problems for the Democrats in the Senate and the House.
The current situation in Iraq is enormously complicated and complex. Anyone who advises a seemingly simple solution is simply wrong. That goes for both sides in the debate. Nonetheless it’s increasingly clear that any Congressional pullout “timetables” have much more to do with the Presidential election in November 2008 than any realistic chance of a major draw down of U.S. military forces in the next year....
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has prepared to marshal his Democrat Party for yet another vainglorious rhetorical assault on the Administration’s Iraq policy despite the Democrats lacking sufficient votes to force a serious policy change. Reid’s admonition “asking Republicans not to march in lockstep with the President” should be reversed; why not ask Senator Reid not to march in lockstep with the dictates of left-wing kooks such as MoveOn.org whose credibility should not extend beyond the Berkeley beltway?
The Wall Street Journal stated editorially, “The Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee Tom Lantos said that Gen. Petraeus would not be the author of the report; it would be written ‘by Administration political operatives.’ He opened hearings, moments before the General was due to speak by saying, ‘We cannot take anything this Administration says on Iraq at face value.”
But as the Times of London opined, “Those Democrats who have insinuated that Gen. Petraeus is in the pocket of the White House disqualify themselves as serious participants in the national debate; even in a war of entrenched political positions, such smear tactics should have no place.”
Which brings us to Harry Reid and his own conflicting statements and flip flopping all over the spectrum.
The Corner shows this quite well with two simple statements from Harry Reid, 6 days apart from each other:
September 13, 2007: Dems to ‘pursue modest bipartisan measures’ on Iraq
Democratic leaders in Congress have decided to shift course and pursue modest bipartisan measures to alter U.S. military strategy in Iraq, hoping to use incremental changes instead of aggressive legislation to break the grip Republicans have held over the direction of war policy.
(“Democrats Push Toward Middle On Iraq Policy,” Washington Post, September 13, 2007)
September 19, 2007: Dems ‘are abandoning a bipartisan effort’ on Iraq
Senate Democratic leaders said yesterday that they are abandoning a bipartisan effort to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq by next spring. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said that Democrats had been willing to make the troop withdrawal a "goal" in order to attract GOP support, but it never materialized. Instead, Reid will again push for a firm deadline, this time June 2008, along with a stronger effort at cutting off war funding.
(“Democrats’ Iraq Push on Hold,” Washington Post, September 19, 2007)
The Democrats have never had a plan on Iraq, they campaigned for the November 2006 elections on nothing more than "we want change", never being asked or offering a viable option for success and victory but only offering surrender and defeat in relation to Iraq.
They have not been able to keep that promise because although they wanted change, when President Bush made those changes they stubbornly closed their eyes and refused to acknowledge how strategies were changed (counterinsurgency tactics were implemented by General Petraeus as well as clearing and holding instead of clearing and moving on, just to show two small examples of those changes).
They continued with their denial even when progress started being seen and even reported by their own politicians that returned from Iraq, war critics such as Brian Baird, who has been against every Iraq action since the beginning, came back, risked his own political career and said the troops have earned more time.
Once again the Democratic politicians decided to go back to the Webb amendment to extend troop leave to try to "slow bleed" our military capabilities, which they were counting on John Warner to support, thereby bringing a few other Republican votes with him, yet again, General Petraeus threw a wrench in their gears.
After the General testified, John Warner said the General was powerful, compelling and credible.
Which leads me to the NYT article today:
The potential change of heart by Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, could sap momentum from the push by Democrats to win the 60 votes they need to secure passage of the plan drafted by Senator Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat.
Mr. Warner voted in July for the Webb proposal, which would require that American troops have as much time at home as they spend overseas before being redeployed. Even with Mr. Warner’s support, Democrats would need to win over at least three more Republicans for a chance at passage when the proposal comes up for a vote again, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.
Mr. Webb’s proposal, an amendment to the annual defense policy bill, is being strongly opposed by the Pentagon as an intrusion in complex troop deployment schedules. Mr. Warner, during a Republican Party luncheon, said he was rethinking his support given President Bush’s plan to withdraw at least some troops from Iraq this year.
Republican officials said that after extensive conversations with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Mr. Warner had concluded that he could not support Mr. Webb’s plan in its current form.
An aide to Mr. Warner would only say that the senator was still in discussions about the measure. “Senator Warner is in continuing consultation with senators on both sides of the aisle and with the Department of Defense relative to the Webb amendment,” said his chief of staff, Carter Cornick.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican moderate who supports the Webb proposal, said she believed opposition from Mr. Warner would make it difficult if not impossible for Democrats to pick up the Republican votes needed to prevent a filibuster.
Remember here that even if they did get the 60 votes needed to pass the Webb measure, Robert Gates has said he would recommend a Presidential veto and the Senate does not have the 67 votes it would need to override that veto.
Bottomline is now Reid will again push for a firm deadline, this time June 2008, along with a stronger effort at cutting off war funding.
Both efforts, time lines and cutting off funding are doomed for failure because they didn't have the votes before Petraeus testified and they have less votes now without Baird and a couple of other democrats that have voted against time lines before.
Representative Jim Marshall of Georgia, one of 10 House Democrats to vote in July against setting a timeline for withdrawal, called Petraeus's testimony ``powerful and persuasive.'' And Senator Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat, also said after the testimony that he remained opposed to a congressionally mandated pullout.
Instead of deciding to try to at least win in Iraq and embrace the progress that General Petraeus showed that we are seeing in Iraq, the Democratic political leaders will, once again, fight for no other reason than to fight and be able to tell their far left, MoveOn.org type base that they are "trying".
For the Democratic politicians, politics will again trump what is best for our country and attaining victory.
[Update] Webb amendment fails.