Rarely do I disagree with Ms. Huffington on Iraq but in her latest post on Bill Clinton and Iraq I have to. The Republicans and the MSM have overhyped the Democratic differences on Iraq and the Presidential ambitions of Kerry and Biden have made them pretend that they are further apart than they are.
The big sticking point had been the date of the pullout even though everyone always knew that no matter what significant numbers of troops would be pulled out before the midterm. So that is it. Troops will start coming home and Bush will try to get the credit. As I wrote earlier:
Now that the administration and its generals have admitted to troop reductions slated for the eve of the midterm elections the Democratic Party has more room to carve out a united position on ending Bush's disastrous, pointless war. From Hilary (and even Lieberman) to Biden, Harman, Clark, Kerry, Murtha and Feingold, Democrats can come together with a cohesive and comprehensive plan that encompasses the best of what they have been suggesting separately.
Instead of us being paralyzed on our differences on the exact size and timetable of the pullout why the hell can we not check our personal ambitions and unite around what we all agree on right now? If Dems pushed hard for the following program now then we would all be in a position to see the wisdom and feasibility of a more comprehensive pullout sooner.
Instead, months go by and more soldiers die. This gridlock is killing them and destroying our military.
1.) "Permanent Bases, Permanent War"
Our top generals in Iraq themselves have admitted that we are a foreign entity that the Iraqis are hellbent on expelling. Permanent bases in Iraq means permanent war. "Permanent bases, permanent war," needs to be a mantra that Democrats need to start echoing from the blogosphere to the Beltway.
The only opposition to our abandoning our Iraq bases for ones just over the horizon in Iraq and Qatar are the petro-politicians willing to trade U.S. and Iraqi blood for future Iraqi oil. Patriotic Americans need to stand together and shout, "Not on our watch. Not at that price."
2.) "The Egyptians Are Coming! The Egyptians Are Coming!"
Since before the war began I have been howling that without an arab face to the occupation our troops are doomed to continued failure. As Kerry, Biden and Wes Clark have suggested, Democrats need to stand united in demanding that the President hold a regional summit on Iraq. Bush himself needs to personally attend, along with the Arab League and Kofi Annan. The summit's goal would be pledges of a Sunni arab peacekeeping force dispatched to police the Sunni triangle. That would free up tens of thousands of U.S. troops. Many could come home. Others could concentrate on the infinitely less life-threatening job of aiding the Shiite majority areas before Iran completes their colonization of their former enemy.
Sunni soldiers would speak the language, could read the street signs of the places they patrolled and Iraqi Sunni insurgents would be much less eager to blow them up than our predominantly Christian soldiers.
What arab country on earth would volunteer for such a mission you might ask? We lavish Egypt with over a billion dollars of military aid every year, third only behind Iraq and Israel. A bounty for Sadat's having made peace with Begin, we now need to ask more of them.
3.) "We Abandoned Afghanistan Once. We Won't Do It Again."
We abandoned Afghanistan once and the Taliban grew and the twin towers fell. The Bush administration has abandoned it again, leaving too few troops to crush the Taliban once and for all and too little economic aid to truly transform the country. Democrats pledge to go back to Afghanistan and finish the job right. More importantly, Democrats pledge to rebuild the roads, purify the water, give new books to the little boys and the little girls. Democrats pledge that out of the tragic ashes of 9/11 America will help make Afghanistan a prosperous and enlightened democracy, a beacon for the rest of the Muslim world.
If Democratic leaders could sign onto a document like this, outlining our common vision for changing the course of this country, we'd be giving the vast middle an actual reason for punching "Democrat" come November.
If we cannot and continue this paralysis we will have squandered this unprecedented opportunity to re-install democracy in America.