Is This The Last Gasp For The Bush Iraq Policy?
The new funding authorization would only be good through Sept. 30, and as Doyle McManus, the L.A. Times Washington Bureau Chief, LAT columnist Ron Brownstein and others have been writing, unless there is definite progress in the war effort by September, the political situation in Washington may well have changed with the balance shifting against the President.
The Democratic Congressional majority is giving way now, because it simply doesn't have the votes to override a Presidential veto. Much of what has been going on in Congress has been shadow boxing, because that has been the situation ever since the Democrats won narrow majorities last November.
But U.S. popular disgust with the war, and its war weariness may well result in a shift of Republican attitudes by fall. With the 2008 election approaching, as McManus has written, even many Republicans may insist on a change in war policy.
But the question will still remain, what kind of change?
Even former Sen. John Edwards, on NBC's Today program this morning said he felt that if U.S. forces were withdrawn from Iraq, the U.S. military would have to remain in Kuwait and the Navy keep a strong presence in the Gulf to maintain some kind of a position in the Middle East. However, later in the day, Edwards inconsistently said he thought the "War on Terror" was nothing but a slogan, and there reallly is no such thing. Maybe, Edwards, in having his $450 haircuts, is taking some hair oil that adversely affects the brain, because he frequently doesn't seem to know what he thinks from one moment to the next.
While we are preoccupied, naturally enough, with Iraq, the situation in the rest of the Middle East has already, even without our withdrawal from such a highly strategic country, been deteriorating. New strife has erupted this week in Lebanon, another highly strategic locale, with an Al-Qaeda offshoot, Fatah al-Islam, engaged in a major battle with the Lebanese Army, using a Palestine refugee camp as a base. In Gaza, Hamas, which is increasingly becoming close to both Iran and Al-Qaeda, continues to rain rockets on nearby portions of Israel, while the Olmert government dithers about a full scale invasion of Gaza to get rid of Hamas once and for all.
Within Iraq, a long L.A. Times story this morning, by Garrett Therolf, quotes a U.S. Army captain, Brendan Gallagher, as saying, "I sometimes worry thazt this period will end up going down here as their surge, not ours." This recognizes what is becoming clear -- that Al Qaeda also has stepped up the war, and has both adequate financing and manpower to do so.
Meanwhile, the new President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, sounds a call today for a step up in sanctions against Iran to try to stop its nuclear program. This issue is becoming more and more important, but the fact is, I fear, the Iranian nuclear program will not be stopped without military action, and that alone could bring about a major war in the Middle East.
Also, the New York Times suggests editorially this morning that the time has come to abandon support of Pakistan's military dictator, Pervez Musharaff (although that might bring on a nuclear catastrophy, one might injerject).
If political conditions in the U.S. should mandate this fall at least the beginning of withdrawal from Iraq, it probably would create a vacuum in that country into which the Iranians, or Al Qaeda or both would move. This alone would not only encourage Al Qaeda to pursue its worldwide aspirations, but also send the price of oil soaring to ever higher levels, threatening Western economies.
Yes, it really is unthinkable for us to withdraw from the Middle East altogether, and it is noteworthy that most of the Democratic presidential candidates aren't arguing for such a step.
So, we are entering a very uncertain period. On the assumption, there are no magic rabbits to take out of the hat in Iraq, change is coming in a few months. But what exactly will it be?
Wednesday night came the sad news that the body of Pfc. Joseph Anzack, Jr., 20, has been found near the scene of his kidnapping south of Baghdad, along with two other soldiers. Those soldiers are still missing. Anzack's family in Torrance, California, had received a false rumor of Anzack's death just a short time back, only to hear from him on the telephone. Now, the news is real. We have to send all our sympathies to the Anzack family and all the other families whose sons and daughters have given their lives in the Iraq war.
Labels: War Politics