Go figure. After six years of total, blind support of President George Bush, many Republicans in Congress are finally looking for ways to change the course of our mission in Iraq. According to the A.P., their goal "is to end the U.S.-led daily patrols in the streets of Baghdad and restrict troops to fighting al-Qaida terrorists and training Iraq security forces."
Cool plan. It does raise one wee question, though -
When did Republicans stop being bothered about micro-managing the war?
In fact, compared to Democrats simply setting a withdrawal deadline, the concept of Republicans manipulating "daily patrols in the streets" and "restricting troop targets" is the equivalent of the chess club moving pawns across the board. This isn't just micro-managing, this is using sub-atomic tweezers. This is getting out your Auto Club map of Baghdad and sending a tow truck whenever there's a flat tire.
Obviously, though, it is an act of Republican desperation rather than a military plan. Accordingly, attempts to describe it are a tad convoluted.
"This is a necessary adjustment in the national debate to reintroduce bipartisanship," Rep. Phil English, (R-PA) told the A.P., "to stop the `gotcha' politics that are going on that seem to be driven by fringes on both sides."
That Republicans like Rep. English believe such a reaction is being driven by "fringes," shows how ghastly out of touch the G.O.P. is. Americans are unhappy with the Iraq War by a margin of 68-27%. That's not a fringe, that's paddling down the mainstream. The point is not to reintroduce bipartisanship, it's to save Republican necks. The country has been yelling to end the war - not pick which streets to patrol.
The new Republican desire to drive the bus of micro-management away from pot holes leads them into even more prickly corners, however.
"Settling Sunni-Shiite rivalries over who occupies what street in Baghdad is not in the vital interest of the United States," said Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM).
And that's absolutely right, it's not at all in our interest, so kudos to...
Wait a second, hold on! Rep. Wilson is saying flat out there is fighting in Iraq that has zero to do with terrorism. That is just Iraqis fighting Iraqis. That is...well...civil war.
Civil war?? In Iraq? No way.
After all, that is precisely what Democrats have been lamenting for a year, and what the White House has repeatedly, vociferously denied. Either Democrats lucked out with one amazing wild guess, or reality finally seeped under the hermetically-sealed G.O.P. door jamb.
Remarkably, this is actually the shallow-end of the Republican micro-management pool. Susan Collins (R-ME) dives even deeper. As the A.P. explains, Sen. Collins wants "binding legislation that would order Bush to restrict the mission of U.S. troops to counterterrorism, training Iraqis and protecting U.S. assets."
If one can dissect "restrict the mission," "binding legislation" and "order Bush" in any way other than the heart of micro-management, then you are worthy of a Nobel Prize in linguistics. Or flimflammery.
(Side note: Susan Collins is up for re-election in an extremely war-unhappy Maine. I merely point out her new position as a matter of fascinating coincidence.)
It's good that Republicans want to finally see American troops change their course in Iraq. It's just way too little and far too late. Americans now want total withdrawal, 57-39%. Indeed, rather than a statesmanship attempt at "bipartisanship," what this Republican flurry of activity actually looks like is a bad Japanese B-movie version of "Godzilla Meets Mothra," with G.O.P. legislators fleeing for their lives and screaming in terror.
Like when Mike Castle (R-Del) contends that, after five years, he too finally wants daily micro-managed street patrols to stop where there's only civil war fighting between Iraqis.
"If you do that you've greatly reduced the loss of life, which is what matters most," Rep. Castle states after having supported the Surge, and after 3,600 American troops have already died, and upwards of 74,000 Iraqis. Because that, to the Congressman, is "what matters most" - not protecting faux-American interests that others no doubt have long-insisted on.
Side note: in May, three retired U.S. generals appeared in an ad from VoteVets.org, which challenged a dozen politicians, stating that they won't be able to win re-election if each continue supporting the Iraq polices of President George Bush. Among those vulnerable lawmakers named were Mike Castle, Phil English, Heather Wilson and Susan Collins.
And yes, their desire to finally speak out and micro-manage the Iraq War is heart-felt and a complete coincidence.