The President likes to talk about ‘victory’ in Iraq. There will be no victory in Iraq. It’s not yet clear what there will be in Iraq, but we can be sure that we will not ‘win’ anything. Even if we take the President at his word, the surge of 21,500 troops is intended not to bring victory but to limit the fallout of defeat. Perhaps he would get more support for his plan if he got his rhetoric right. We are surging into Baghdad to try to prevent a total collapse of the capital when we pull our troops out. Whether we have a reasonable chance of succeeding in this limited goal is open to debate, but we aren’t having this debate.
Instead, we are having a faux debate. Frank Luntz makes a partisan point about this situation.
…Senator Barack Obama’s assertion that “We’re not going to babysit a civil war” is itself a childish sound-bite that ignores widespread American concern that a civil war today could spin into a regional war with worldwide consequences tomorrow. The image of “babysitting” lacks the seriousness befitting a conflict in which we’ve lost 3,000 American men and women, and shows a lack of gravitas in a presidential aspirant.
The list goes on. Speaker Pelosi callously suggesting that President Bush is moving quickly to “put troops in harms way” is a short jump away from suggesting that the President is deliberately trying to get our soldiers killed. Likewise, Senator Kennedy saying that U.S. troops are like “police officers in a shooting gallery” smacks of sound-bite flippancy and expediency of the worst kind. We need an intelligent debate, not a sound-bite contest.
To be sure, Luntz’s column is little more than a disingenuous effort to avoid retribution from Democrats. After punching Democrats repeatedly around the head and neck he calls out, ‘Not in the face…not in the face.’ But he’s right about one thing. Withdrawing our troops from Iraq is not the end of our problems in the Middle East. We are at a dangerous point in our nation’s history. And to deal with this danger we should look to history.
No President has ever started a war, lost that war, and presided over the repercussions of defeat. Harry S Truman put American troops into the Korean peninsula. When China invaded we were left with an unwinnable stalemate. Truman could have sought re-election in 1952. But after losing the New Hampshire primary Truman dropped out. Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected and quickly negotiated a cease-fire than ended the Korean War.
Likewise, Lyndon Baines Johnson put our troops into Indochina, but quickly discovered that we could not successfully defeat the nationalist insurgency there. He could have sought re-election, but after doing worse than expected in the New Hampshire primary, he dropped out. Richard Nixon won a narrow victory promising that he had a secret plan to end the war. He did not have a plan. After five years of failure in Vietnam, Nixon was forced out of office. It was left to Gerald Ford to preside over the fall of Saigon.
This is as it should be. We should never allow a President to embroil us in foreign entanglements and then to preside over extracting us from those foreign entanglements. We don’t have a parliamentary system. We have elections and we have impeachment. Impeachment is reserved for high crimes and misdemeanors. There can be no higher crime than starting a war of choice under false pretenses that brings defeat to our nation’s armed forces.
Frank Luntz asks us:
If Democrats believe so passionately that President Bush has made it wrong – and you can’t really blame them – why don’t they tell us how to make it right? It’s as simple as that. And getting it right might actually save some lives and political careers in the effort.
I am telling you right now…if we want to make things right we have no choice but to impeach the President and Vice-President. The country is prepared for this. Seventy-one percent of the people think the country is on the wrong track and the President has a higher disapproval rating than any post-war President other than Nixon at the height of the Watergate scandal. Luntz thinks we should move on.
The Republicans are a party in peril, but all is not milk and cookies in Democrat land. The Democrats – flush with majority status – have a crucial choice right now. They can use their newly-won mandate to settle some old scores…or they can get responsibly (sic) and move ahead. They would be wise to opt for the latter.
Actually, we would not be wise to ‘move ahead’. At least, we would not be wise to move ahead without dealing with our nation’s single greatest problem. Our biggest problem is not Iraq. Our biggest problem is our administration. This is an administration that failed to act prior to or on September 11, 2001 to protect the country. They failed to hunt down and capture Usama bin-Laden. They failed to get international support for regime change in Iraq. They failed to plan for the occupation of Iraq. They failed to protect the people of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. We the people have a right to expect better governance. We are simply not safe with this administation in charge. They have not earned the right to preside over the end of the war in Iraq. The 2004 election is irrelevant to our present circumstances.
Removing this administration from power is not about vindictiveness. It’s just common sense.