But that was before the wheels came off and sectarian violence in Iraq once again became front page news. Alright, "stay the course" is no longer the Republican mantra, but other than semantics, nothing has changed. The administration still has no plans for a troop drawdown, no idea how to quell the sectarian violence, no definition for victory and no intention of admitting the truth. In the face of the recent meltdown, the Republican candidates' grim determination to keep uttering nonsense about "winning" is supposed to be viewed as being resolute. Actually, such obstinancy only serves to reinforce the reality that they cannot be trusted to manage the mess that they created or to level with the American public about our limited options. This is political posturing at its worst.
But listen to these Texas incumbents discuss the current situation in Iraq. In response to challenger Gary Page's plan to withdraw troops to a safe distance, where they can act as a deterrent force, Republican Kenny Marchant, representing Texas Congressional District 24, states:
"....such a plan would create "total chaos." "It would promote civil war and promote the insurgency," said Mr. Marchant, 55. "Our presence there is still needed and necessary for them to get new democracy."
Well, you have to applaud Mr. Marchant for wanting to avoid "total chaos," but to Iraqis facing the daily barrage of kidnappings, bombings and beheadings that account for life as they currently know it, the choice of adjectives must seem irrelevant. As for democracy, the Iraqis had free elections and approved a constitution. At what point does that give them the right to demand an end to our occupation, which over two-thirds of its citizens currently support?
To the question of whether withdrawal would embolden enemy fighters, with 100 U.S. soldiers dead already this month, military engagements increasing on the Afghanistan border, and militias roaming unchallenged in the streets of Baghdad, isn't that already fait accompli? Iraq, formerly the cradle of civilization, now in the midst of an escalating civil war, is a breeding ground for terrorism that threatens the entire region. In the meantime, lives are lost and fortunes are made, and true solutions are still months away.
The irony is that if the Democrats win Congress and close the gap in the Senate next month, they will have to take a leading role in winding down this war. One can be certain that no matter what the outcome, and the options do not look good, forcing Democrats to make all the hard choices in Iraq will give Republicans the perfect cudgel going into the 2008 elections.