Sunday, April 08, 2007

Iraq War Debate: A Line in the Sand

By Christopher Truscott

2005 car bombing

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...And the craziest congresswoman is...

American political debate is dominated by shades of gray. Rarely are things black and white, absolutely right and absolutely wrong. Usually the best answer lies somewhere toward the vast middle.

The ongoing civil war in Iraq is not one of these circumstances, however.

For more than four years we’ve been bogged down in a conflict with roots that predate European settlement in the Americas. After going too long with no end in sight, Congress has produced legislation that allows us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re now waiting on President George W. Bush to stand up and do his part.

There is an absolute right in this debate, troop funding legislation backed by the House of Representatives that calls for an end to U.S. military involvement in Iraq by the end of next summer; and an absolute wrong, the “stay the course” policy offered by the president and his allies on Capitol Hill.

There was no ambiguity last November when the American people went to the polls. Iraq was the biggest issue and developing an exit strategy was the winning argument. Now it’s time to make it happen. Democrats have drawn a line in the sand and can’t back down, no matter what the president says or does in the coming weeks.

Our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have preformed ably under the worst of circumstances in Iraq and have done everything asked of them by their civilian leaders. They’ve toppled a brutal dictator and brought democratic elections to a country that had operated under one-party, dictatorial rule for decades.

After a job well done, it’s time to begin the process of bringing the troops home.

Condi loves GWB
The increasingly bloody civil war in Iraq will continue whether American forces stay or go. Ultimately it’s a fight that will be either won or lost by the ability of the new Iraqi leadership to forge a political solution that meets the needs of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds throughout that country. We cannot impose it on them and the time for hand-holding is over. Iraq is a sovereign state and must act like one.

In his weekly radio address, the president blasted Democrats for using the war funding bill to make a “political statement,” when in reality members of Congress are merely fulfilling their constitutionally mandated role as the authors of American policy.

Bush says funding for the troops is “critical” and has a “direct impact on their daily lives.” He’s preaching to the choir on this one. Congress also supports funding the troops. But what the majority – in Washington and throughout America – opposes is an open-ended commitment to a quagmire.

In a town hall meeting last week, U.S. Rep. John Kline, a Republican from Minnesota, said it’ll take time for Iraqis to be ready to handle their own affairs.

“We have to bring an entire (Iraqi) army up to speed,” the Bush loyalist said, “and it takes more than six weeks or 12 weeks or 12 months.”

Fair enough, but we’ve now been there for nearly 49 months. What’s the target date? 80 months? 120 months – a full decade? Longer?

The president and his supporters don’t have a plan for Iraq beyond trotting out the tired talking points of previous years. They hide behind the rally cry of “support the troops,” while continuing to send more into a lost cause. They reflexively oppose everything offered by the opposition without putting forward anything substantive of their own. They’re chasing mirages in the desert and what’s worse is they don’t even seem to realize it.

It is time for Congress to stand firm. This war must end. Since the president has failed to lead, it’s time for him to follow.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at Remember when “Survivor” was the hot new show, the Yankees last won a World Series and Bush was supposed to be a “uniter, not a divider”?

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