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July 15, 2007

What’s Next for Iraq? Breaking the Deadlock

The United States isn’t going to withdraw from Iraq. We be there for generations, just as we still have troops in Germany, Japan, and Korea. Vietnam was an exception, and only Ted Kennedy’s crowd wants to see a repeat of the horror of post-war Vietnam.

Unless we end up with an irresponsible Democratic administration that will bail at any cost, we will define our ongoing national interests in Iraq and adjust troop levels to accomplish them.

There are only about 20 Senators, all Democrats—including Clinton, Obama—who want to get out of Iraq as quickly as the trucks can roll. Actually, there are more Democratic candidates for president who support immediate withdrawal at any cost than there are Senators who are not presidential candidates .

This says something about the choice presented with the 15 Democratic wannabes line up for one of their endless debates. No reasonable choice for a constructive plan in Iraq.

David Brooks July column in the New York Times (subscription only, but you can read it here) describes the deadlock in the Senate on Iraq policy:

To simplify a bit, roughly 20 senators, led by John McCain and Joe Lieberman, believe in Gen. David Petraeus and the surge. There are roughly 30 Republicans, led by Dick Lugar, John Warner and Lamar Alexander, who believe that the U.S. should scale back its mission and adopt the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations. There are roughly 30 Democrats, led by Carl Levin and Jack Reed, who also want to scale back and adopt the study group’s approach. And finally, there are roughly 20 Democrats, led by Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold, who just want to get out as quickly as possible.

In theory, it should be possible to get the 30 Republicans and the 30 Democrats who support the study group’s framework together to embrace a common plan. But Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, is doing everything he can to prevent a bipartisan consensus. It’s much better politically for the Democrats to stay united and force the Republicans to vote with the president.

“Is there a middle way? Brooks asks. Is there a way that will protect U.S. interests with a solution that can be maintained for as long as necessary—as we have done in most previous conflicts.

Brooks suggests:

The U.S. will still have vital interests in Iraq, like preventing a terror state and stopping an Iranian takeover. Military planners believe a reduced force is viable: 20,000 troops to protect the Iraqi government, 10,000 to train and advise, 10,000 in headquarters and a smaller number of special forces to chase terrorists.

That’s not something you’ll hear in a Democratic presidential debate, but it may be close to where we need to be.

Posted by Jim at July 15, 2007 09:14 AM

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