Saturday, February 24, 2007

Democrats Will Not Be Able To Force Iraq Pullout

--Written From Ashland, Oregon

I think it's safe to reaffirm my prediction just after the November election that the Democrats do not have enough strength in Congress to force any course on President Bush as far as leaving Iraq is concerned.

If they were to come even close, it could be that Sen. Joseph Lieberman would cross party lines and become a Republican, thus handing control of the Senate to the Republicans.

But it will not come to that. Fortunately for the country, either major course for anti-war Democrats, cut off funding or revoke the war authorization vote of 2002, cannot command majority support in the Senate, and probably not in the House. The proposal of Rep. John Murtha that such restrictions be put on new troop deployments as to cripple the American effort, cannot command more than negligible Congressional support.

Of course, it takes 60 votes in the Senate to force an actual vote on anything. Even on the non-binding resolution against President Bush's troop "surge," the Democrats could not entice enough Republicans to bring matters to a vote.

But with either the funding cutoff, or revocation of the war authorization, the Democratic doves could not even come close. For one thing, other present Democrats beyond Lieberman would not be united on a course.

So the real question for the time being is how the war is going, and will the new U.S. security plan for Baghdad be successful?

The initial signs are not good. There have been a number of reports that, as in the past, the Iraqis are not really stepping up to the plate, and without their cooperation, American troops in Baghdad are liable to take more casualties but not succeed in damping down the sectarian violence in the city.

With its ethnic divisions, Iraq is prey to the kind of strategy Al Qaeda has been following -- do everything they can to incide Sunni-Shiite division.

So what can be done? I feel for the time being the best course is to fight the Sunni insurgency, which includes Al Qaeda and foreign Arab fighters, seek more Kurd involvement elsewhere in the country, and continue to put more pressure on the Maliki regime to cooperate with U.S. war aims.

It's not going to be a democracy in Iraq, but it may be an authoritarian democracy of sorts.

Other than that, Mr. Bush has two years to try and accomplish something in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Crushing Al Qaeda, killing Osama bin Laden, that must be our overall priority.

In 2008, unless the Democrats fall into the trap of nominating a McGovernite like John Edwards or Barack Obama, they probably will win the Presidency. Then it will be up to them. For the next two years, it is going to be up to George W. Bush.

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