Saturday, June 30, 2007

Redrawing The Battle Lines

There are a couple of elements to this story which I had to ponder as I read it:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic leaders vowed Friday to keep up the pressure on President George W. Bush to end the Iraq war with more votes next month on withdrawing U.S. troops.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would seek a vote on legislation instructing the Pentagon to begin pulling out U.S. troops within 120 days, similar to a provision Bush vetoed in the first version of a war spending bill Congress sent to him in May.

A comparable provision also is expected to come to the floor of the Senate in July. So far this year, Senate Democrats have been unable to get the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles to proposals to start a pullout from Iraq.
So far, pretty straightforward. Obviously, Pelosi, Reid, & Co decided that they caved a little too easily with Bush on the war funding bill, and heard about it from both the left wing ideologues but also from mainstream Americans who elected them in large part to end this national nightmare. Too, that Senators Richard Lugar and George Voinovich, not exactly firebreathing lefties, came out strongly against the war this week gives them some political cover to reintroduce this withdrawal timetable.

Bbut here's the intriguing bit:
But Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted legislation from Congress called for progress reports on Iraq in July and September and suggested those should determine any decisions.

"It seems to me that Congress has laid out a sensible timetable and we ought to adhere to it," he told reporters at the Pentagon.
Huh? Is Secretary Gates suggesting, or at least, leaving the door open, to a troop withdrawal this year? After all, those "progress reports" to be delivered by General Petraeus, will show that the surge has had minimal success (the Anbar region is raised continually as a beacon of hope, which neglects the truth that the Anbar region was relatively peaceful right up until the surge) and that the general benchmarks it will report on-- oil revenue sharing, suppression of the sectaraian violence, and regional elections-- will fall woefully short, mostly due to the Iraqi parliament's lack passing legislation.

Meaning the Democrats in Congress will have a field day at Bush's expense.

If in fact, this was the game plan, to give the surge the summer and then cut off funding anyway, then it concerns me that the Democrats would play this so cynically. Hundreds of Americans would have died to gain an incremental political position of giving in one last time and letting the baby have his bottle.