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Extricating U.S. Troops From the Iraq Quagmire

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Expected incoming U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's
endorsement of Rep. Jack Murtha, Pennsylvania
Democrat, as Democratic majority leader come January
drew a preliminary line in the sand regarding her
position as third in line for the presidency on
withdrawal from Iraq - but the Pelosi-Murtha position
is not that of a majority of Democrats and
Republicans, so it will fall.

The benefit of Pelosi's endorsement of Murtha,
expected to be defeated for majority leader in the
House Democratic caucus by Rep. Steny Hoyer, is that
we now see the split in Democratic ranks that will
play out over the coming months as the new Democratic
majority takes office in both the U.S. House and
Senate and attempts to work its will on the Iraq
problem.

Many sensible Republican conservatives agree with
equally sensible Democratic conservatives and
moderates that the Bush administration badly bungled
in its misunderstanding of the Iraqi culture and
sectarian divisions as it sent our troops to topple
dictator Saddam Hussein and start our military
occupation of Iraq.

The sectarian divisiveness, anti-American hatred, and
senseless killings of both Iraqi people and U.S.
troops that have since continued are emblematic of
cultural and historic ignorance on the part of our
national leadership that caused U.S. defeat in Vietnam
three decades ago.

The Vietnam analogy is apt, because the United States
has once again marched into a country that did not
attack us, and our leaders have conjured up reasons to
justify their decisions and to rally the country
behind their imperialism.

The elections of November 7, 2006, demonstrated quite
clearly that voters throughout our country did not buy
the arguments. But we all support our wonderful
troops. So what are we to do?

Certainly we should not "cut and run," pouring all the
blood spent by our U.S. troops for Iraqi freedom down
the drain. So the Pelosi-Murtha option is a
non-starter.

But the Democratic argument for phased redeployment of
our troops from Iraq, also supported by many
Republicans in both houses of Congress, is going to
happen if the new leadership in Congress on both
Democratic and Republican sides is sensible and
committed to the best interests of our troops and
country, rather than the same old shameless partisan
sniping and search for political advantage.

The wonderful people of our country are sick of that,
and the sooner political and media hacks of all
persuasions recognize that the better.

The encouraging news over the weekend was
announcements by both Sen. John McCain of Arizona and
former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York that they
are putting together the political machinery to run
for president on the Republican side in 2007-08. Watch
for Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts to do the same.

So the country will start hearing more reasoned
arguments from Republicans themselves, independent of
both the Bush administration and extreme liberal
Democratic critics, of a better course than we are now
on.

As the recent elections showed, our voting public
wants our president and Congress, with help from state
governors and legislators, to refocus our country's
priorities and figure a way to withdraw from Iraq
properly, as soon as possible, while supporting our
troops and our country's best interests every step of
the way in both the short and long terms.

Hopefully our troop withdrawal will happen as we
continue to push the new Iraqi government to end
senseless divisions among the Iraqi people now that
the heroic men and women of our armed services and
allies have provided them liberty and opportunity by
ousting the Hussein tyranny.

The bottom line is that it's now up to the Iraqis,
with our continued help as we deliberately phase out
and continue modernizing our armed forces for the
longer struggle against the worldwide menace of cowboy
terrorists. And that's what U.S. voters clearly told
our American politicians in the elections.

A word about Donald Rumsfeld, our departing secretary
of defense: I have watched him from my various perches
on Capitol Hill for more than 30 years, first as
congressman from Illinois, then as President Nixon's
head of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and
ambassador to NATO; chief of staff for President
Gerald Ford; his executive positions in the corporate
world; and his most recent assignment for President
Bush at the Pentagon.

All the brickbats against Rumsfeld from much lesser
ideological critics are simply more of the same in the
Washington political milieu which denigrates sincere
and tireless public service.

There are too many people in the Washington
bureaucracy and political community who are simply
hacks who cannot appreciate, let alone match, the
enormous contributions of a man like Donald Rumsfeld
-- a true American patriot and hero who deserves our
country's outspoken gratitude for his many decades of
selfless service for human liberty and the good of the
order in our own country and throughout the world.