Planet News Views

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Talk About a Timetable for U.S. Troops Leaving Iraq

By Scott McLean

Democrats won majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in last Tuesday's congressional elections. Opposition to the war in Iraq was a top reason so many Republican incumbents were defeated.

While there's not much talk about pulling out of Iraq right away, the fact that there is talk about a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal shows that political change is coming.

Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is talking about a way to gradually get the troops out of Iraq. I like what he's saying.

The following is an excerpt from Senator Levin's statement at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq:

"The only way for Iraqi leaders to squarely face that reality is for President Bush to tell them that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months. That is not precipitous. It is a responsible way to change the dynamic in Iraq, to stop the march down the path to full blown civil war on which the Iraqis are now embarked. Yes, some U.S. troops would need to remain in Iraq for the limited missions of counter-terrorism and training of Iraqi Security Forces, and to provide logistical support and force protection. And yes, we should also convene an international conference to support a political settlement and to provide resources for Iraq’s reconstruction."

I hope Senator Levin can get some action on this idea in the Senate. By the way, does anyone know what the strategy is in Iraq? I don't expect an answer. But just think about it. Whatever the strategy has been, it hasn't worked.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow didn't give an inch when the proposal for phased withdrawal was brought up Monday at a White House press briefing.

"As far as phased withdrawal, the President has always said, look, this is dependent upon the conditions on the ground. And that remains our position. The President believes that as Commander-in-Chief it is his obligation to make sure that our forces get the job done so that people don't die in vain, have not died in vain. And, furthermore, that we have the ability, when this is all over, to be able to say to moderate Arab states, we have been here, we have defended your interests; to say to the Iraqi people, we have kept the faith with you; and to say to terrorists, you failed," Snow said.

The conditions in Iraq are far from the kind of peace the president has said is his goal for the country. The matter is whether chaos is a reason for troops to remain in Iraq or to bring them home.

At the same time, it's difficult for most people to understand the meaning of "moderate Arab states" when there is so much violence motivated by religious hatred in the Middle East.

Snow's statement might be an accurate representation of President Bush's position on Iraq. However, Bush used to say over and over his policy was to "stay the course" in Iraq, which was the main reason Democrats won control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Americans voted for a new direction, especially in Iraq. A timetable for troop withdrawal, such as Senator Levin's proposal, would be a step in the right direction.

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