Bush Administration Claims Credit for Troop Reduction Plans
This sort of revisionism is not new. Once WWII was over, no German ever admitted supporting Adolf Hitler or the war, even though he won a popular election to take power initially and support for the war was high at the beginning (thanks largely to the propoganda genius of Hermann Goering).
The neocon talking point for today, and probably for the next eleven months, is: "Jack Murtha didn't say anything we haven't already been saying." The talking point is: "the President always said we'd leave Iraq soon." The talking point is: "Don't let the Democrats take back the House in 2006 now that the American public has awakened to the reality that they were manipulated into supporting this war, and it's not going well, and it's precisely the neocons in the Administration and Congress who engineered this disaster."
Oops. That's not a talking point. They won't say it, and none of the Woodward-style "access reporters" in the mainstream media will ask the question that elicits it -- or, if they do, they won't ask the follow-up insisting that it be answered rather than evaded.
But let's be clear about two things:
1) None of the Republicans in the Administration or in the Congressional leadership showed any inclination to enunciate a clear plan, let alone take solid steps, to withdraw troops from Iraq before a handful of progressives, most notably Jack Murtha, finally caught the public's attention with a stand really supporting the troops. To pretend otherwise is sheer mendacity, calculated to minimize losses in the 2006 midterms.
2) This Administration, in particular, had no and still has no intention of withdrawing substantial numbers of troops from Iraq. They are still building 14 permanent bases on Iraq's sandy soil, and a permanent presence in Iraq -- to replace the airmen and other soldiers we pulled out of Saudi Arabia in capitulation to Osama bin Laden's demands and to secure a backup oil source in the event the Saudi royal family is overthrown -- is a key part of the neocon foreign policy and energy strategy. They will, of necessity, rotate exhausted, three-tour units home, but they will not willingly do more. If they do do more, it will be a capitulation to Congressional Republicans worried about their seats, and is not likely to last past next November.
Once again, this is not a partisan issue. There are Republicans on the same side as Murtha, and an embarassing number of Vichy Democrats, too cowardly to take a stand that might get them labeled cowards, who have waffled on the war. Overall, Congressional Republicans cannot be faulted much for supporting their President's policy, while Congressional Democrats should be blamed for failing, individually and as a party, to take a clear antiwar stance and articulate a lucid alternative to the Administration's Iraq war policy.
The Democrats' "neocon light" waffling may cost them dearly, because voter dissatisfaction with Republicans won't translate into Democratic gains next November if voters don't perceive a difference between the two. The Democrats have missed a rare opportunity to benefit from simply doing the right thing, and the tiny shred of truth contained in the Administration's new misdirection tactic -- that they and the Vichy Democrats have the same plan -- may blunt Republican losses next year.
But that is to the Democrats' shame, not to the Administration's credit. This Administration, which is not focused on the risk terrorists present to us at home and which "supports the troops" in rhetoric only, deserves no credit whatsoever for any troop reductions that political or practical necessity forces them to accept, and we should not be fooled when some troops are withdrawn just for show in the runup to the Congressional midterms.