A move by Senate Democrats to force Bush and the White House to come out with a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal was defeated. Oh the subtlety of media outlets is so beautiful yet so ugly. The GOP "blocked" this move, according to ABC News. They didn't "disagree" or "stop" it. Like a-holes, they "blocked" it.
The Democrats, and a good deal of other people, want a timetable for withdrawal. This seems like a reasonable request on the part of the Dems. It would be nice to know when the war will be over.
There's a problem, however. Wars don't end on schedules. Looking back through history, wars are often underestimated in length. When the war goes over that length, the people start getting aggravated. Although the White House has NEVER come out with any schedule or promises of a quick and easy war, people in this country expected one. In reality, the legitimate war has been over for a long time. A second war in Iraq has been underway since then.
If a timetable were to be made for U.S. troop withdrawal, it should not be made public. Only coalition and Iraqi forces should know when and how our troops will be leaving. This information should be kept from the insurgents. If they knew when we were leaving, they could somehow use it to their advantage. What if they plan massive attacks before we elave Iraq, killing hundreds or even thousands of our troops? What if they plan massive attacks for the day after we leave? This would seriously jeapordize Iraqi security forces ability to maintain stability.
Politically, issuing a timetable would be an unwise move. If the White House published one that was a cautious prediction, people would think that the war would be going on for too long. If the timetable were very aggressive in bringing troops home early, it would probably not be followed. This would cause even more political outrage towards an administration that is suffering from that mallady as it is.
The Democratic Party, in my opinion, often suffers from over-idealism. Yes, it would be terriffic to be able to mark a day on a calendar as "Troops Come Home Day." Then we could plan big parades and celebrate that our part in the war is essentially over. Unfortunately, wars do not operate in such ways. When the Allies invaded Normandy, nobody knew how long it would take for them to liberate France. Their timetables for the Normandy invasion itself were quite mistaken. In an effort to make up for lost time taking Caen, the Allies implemented a plan that was somewhat foolish and resulted in far too many Allied deaths for far too little gain. Timetables can often be dangerous.
To simplify (perhaps overly so), war is like a football game with no clock. The two sides don't stop playing until one is destroyed or one quits. Imagine if the Super Bowl were played in such a manner. You couldn't really come up with any sort of timetable for victory, could you? Even if you were up by 56 points (which we aren't in Iraq), you still couldn't point to a moment when your team could claim victory and leave the field.
What makes the Democrats request somewhat ridiculous, in my eyes, is that they often claim that we are losing the war in Iraq. I'm not going to claim that we are winning it. Wars between terrorists and legitimate armed forces rarely have a side that is "winning." This is because the goal of the terorrists is to destroy the armed forces and the goal of the armed forces is to destroy the terrorists. Until either one accomplishes their goal, neither one is winning or losing.
If the Democrats truly believe that we are losing, then troop withdrawal timetables are not a good idea. If they beleive that we are losing, they should either be pushing for total and outright withdrawal from Iraq to save the lives of out troops, or they should not be expressing any desire to remove troops so that we can win the war. They claim that we're losing, yet they want us to withdraw slowly as if we were winning but the war wasn't over. Which is it?
This is what Harry Reid (D-Nevada) had to say:
"We want to change the course. We can't stay the course."
If that isn't a defeated attitude, I don't know what is. It sounds to me that Harry is assuming that we cannot win in Iraq. If he truly felt this way, however, he would urge for total withdrawal now, not a timetable for eventual gradual withdrawal.
The Republicans of the Senate did not vote for the timetable measure. They proposed a different measure. It passed 79-19.
Bill Frist (R-Tennesse, Majority Leader) stated: "They [the Democrats] want an exit strategy, a cut-and-run exit strategy. What we are for is a successful strategy."
The measure passed by the Senate urges there to be a concerted effort to make Iraq a fully sovereign nation. This would eliminate the need for U.S. troops in Iraq, thus ending our direct involvement in the war. However, the measure included no desire for a specific timetable to be set by the White House for troop withdrawals.