A curious state of affairs
Republicans want to settle the Iraq tussle but lack the guts to do so decisively; whether this state is a result of their desire to look good with their new Dem overlords, their desire to look good with the DC/NY press, their desire to look good for CNN/MSNBC, or to get invited to the cocktail parties, is unknown. Most likely it is a combination of all these things, with a dash of political cowardice, a pinch of mealymouth, and the short-sightedness of political ambition.
Democrats claim to want to win, but their every action belies this. Some of these actions include endless comparisons to Viet Nam, speech after speech running down the Bush administration's intelligence-gathering (and fundamental honesty) while ignoring that the EXACT SAME INFORMATION was being put forth by the Clinton administration throughout the late 1990s, and various resolutions (non-binding, of course) that are "no-confidence" statements of the President and trial balloons involving cutting off funding for the war effort. Their own hypocrisy and cowardice are shown most effectively in this last example. If the dems were truly an "anti-war" and "anti-THIS-war" party, if they truly believed that what is happening in Iraq is wrong and goes against our American values and beliefs, if they truly think that 3000 American dead in 3 years is far too great a casualty toll to bear, then they have not only the right but also the RESPONSIBILITY to cut off funding. Period. They have the numbers in both the House and Senate; of course the President would veto it, but if the dems truly are united in this belief and have the ability to sway the weak Repubs their way, they could override that veto.
This is the curious situation -- enjoying large popular support from both sides in 2003, no one wants this war now. Too bad -- we're in it; the only option is to win it. Got that, Senator Clinton, and Mayor Giuliani? WE ARE IN TO WIN.
Background material here.
In 1998 all the dems wanted to go in and kick Saddam out and set up a democracy. In fact, John Kerry gave one of the best and most persuasive speeches of his life in support of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which calls for:
[Expresses] the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.This act passed the House on October 5, 1998, by a margin of 359-38. Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha did not vote, along with 20 of their dem colleagues. The corresponding Senate bill passed with UNANIMOUS CONSENT on October 7, 1998. This means that no one in the Senate at that time (Kennedy, Reid, Kerry, Biden, etc.) had any qualms about this resolution or its consequences. There was no debate; all were on board and ready to go into Iraq. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton on October 31, 1998. In his signing statement, he remarked:
"...I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life."So it would appear that Bill Clinton and several of his policy supporters must have believed that peace among the factions was possible once the dictator had been removed. This is in stark contrast to the statements of many congressional figures in the months since we brought Saddam down.
It was established United States policy, two full years before the 2000 election, three full years before 9/11, and nearly six full years before the invasion of Iraq, that the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein would end, and that we would assist the Iraqis in defense of their country and development of a democratic regime so they could join the modern world in peace.
The dems have forgotten all this, the media has forgotten all this, and apparently the Republicans have as well. It is ultimately not going to matter much for the near future, since the 2008 elections are two years away, and there is neither the numerical strength nor the political integrity of the dems to truly undercut the war effort. They know that doing so will prove that they are not out to win; whether it is a political maneuver because they don't want Bush proven right or whether there is truly an anti-American-achievement streak that has been charged will make no difference.
Americans may not be the most subtle, or the most discerning, or most scholarly, or even the most united. But we all know that WE HATE LOSING. That is why we went from being a second-rate power at the end of the Civil War, to becoming a major power in World War I, to being the ultimate power in World War II. We did not allow the Germans to take over Europe twice, we did not allow the Japanese to dominate Asia, we stood up to our most fearsome rival the USSR, and bankrupted it into submission. We are not going to allow our soldiers and our national image be run out of a sandbox by a bunch of suicidal fanatics with delusions of grandeur.
The next couple of years will continue to be filled with hysterical talking-point media blitzes on the latest bombing or bloodbath. Dem leaders will continue to cluck about how horrible it all is while doing NOTHING to prevent it (and it is within their power to do so), and the Republicans will continue to give in because they have forgotten how fight as a minority party.
The only way for the dems to get behind this war is to give them the same circumstances that got us in: They will need to hold the House and Senate in the 2008 elections and capture the White House. That's it. Once they hold all the marbles, including the big one, there will be no room for excuses. They will be forced to decide how to win it and be done, or get behind their cut-and-run rhetoric and it will be that administration, that congress, that will be judged accordingly.
Obviously there are many other concerns about a dem majority that do not involve war/Iraq. Taxes, regulation, judges, etc., are always points of concern. But by 2008 not only will Iraq be significantly better or significantly worse off, the looming Iranian nuclear situation will be more sharply focused, the Norks and Chinese will be better positioned, and there is always the joy that is Hezbollah and the Palestinians with Syrian meddling to deal with.
Don't worry -- this blog will never make a call to root for the socialist dems. I do NOT want the Lizard Queen to get the throne, and will always prefer a squishy Republican to nearly any Democrat (in their current state). Even Joe Lieberman, as discussed many times here in the past, with his unyielding support for our efforts in Iraq and unavowed American defense support, is in so many other ways unacceptable to a conservative libertarian-ish point of view and is not preferred by this blog. Yes, I'll gladly take Arlen Specter and Lincoln Chaffee over Joe Lieberman ANY day.
It is merely as stated above -- a curious state of affairs that events have led me to even consider that giving the dems the trifecta in 2008 might just be the way to get this Iraq thing over with, for better or worse.