Bush Shows That He Still Has Fire In His Belly On Iraq

Given Bush’s tepid response to Iran and his troubling willingness to close Gitmo, I consider this to be an encouraging sign that he hasn’t lost his nerve on Iraq,

“President Bush shocked Capitol Hill staffers and Republican leaders Monday when he crashed a meeting at the White House to deliver a blunt message that he wasn’t backing down on Iraq and Republicans need to understand that.

“It was stunning,” said one GOP aide who attended the meeting. “We couldn’t believe he came in.”

“We kept looking at each other, amazed he came in,” said another Republican aide.

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Bush was described as folksy, adamant and mildly profane as he interrupted the meeting between senior White House communications staffers Tony Snow and Ed Gillespie and GOP leaders. His message: the policy on Iraq isn’t changing. He is not backing down and no one on Capitol Hill should be confused into thinking he is letting up.”

Here’s the reality: the Democrats don’t have the 60 votes they need to break a filibuster and the earliest date they’re going to have a chance to get them is in September.

Even then, it seems likely that Petraeus is going to come back and say that political progress has been so-so at best, but that military progress has been good and that he needs more time.

Will the Democrats be able to gather 60 votes then? It’s unknown, but Republicans still support the war in Iraq and I think it would leave a very sour taste in the mouth of a lot of Americans for Democrats to try to snatch defeat from the mouth of victory in Iraq when we have an outstanding general on the floor of the Senate saying that he thinks we should hang in there a few more months.

If Bush can keep the surge going through September, we’ll probably start to see a draw down in early 2008, if only because we simply don’t have the troops to maintain it much longer. As is, we are definitely stretching our troops in Iraq, and we simply cannot keep going much longer.

Once the surge ends, the ideal situation would be to have the Iraqi troops doing the day to day policing with the US helping out with air support, logistics, advisors, and special forces. Once we get to that point, we can withdraw a large number of troops and the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq would drop significantly.

Can we get there? It does seem possible at this point, but a lot depends on the Iraqi forces being able to take point in the fight against Al-Qaeda without US troops shouldering a lot of the load.

In my opinion, we have a duty to the Iraqi people who have risked their lives to fight shoulder to shoulder with us and the American troops who have been wounded and killed to give their mission every chance to succeed before we start backing out of Iraq. To leave now, for political reasons, when victory is still within our grasp would be an insult to the troops and one of the most dishonorable acts in this nation’s history.

Let Petraeus, who literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency, have a chance to say his piece in September and if he says we can’t win, then let’s leave. But, if he says we can pull it out, let’s give him the time he needs to win the war. It’s not pleasant, it’s not fun, and we’ll all be pleased when we can leave Iraq, but there is a world difference between leaving a democratic state behind us that is an enemy of Al-Qaeda and leaving the collapse of democracy, genocide, a regional war, and a victory for Al-Qaeda in our wake.

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