Redefining Winning In A No-Win Situation
We’ve been hearing the word “bi-partisan” a lot this past week, but that’s always the case right after an election, but while the word may have meaning to us common folk, it means squat to those in power. The happy talk of working together will be replaced by partisan rancor as soon as James Baker unveils his “plan for victory” in Iraq. The question is, will the Democrats let Bush Jr. take one last stab at saving face or will they refuse to cooperate. There may be political benefit to giving Bush more rope with which to hang himself, but how many American lives are worth sacrificing for a political victory exactly?
As news trickles out from the Baker commission, I get the sense that this entire exercise is more about rehabilitating Bush’s presidency than finding a solution to the crisis we have created in Iraq. John McCain wants to send in more troops and there are rumblings that GW does too. Now that Baker and Cheney are coordinating in the effort, it looks more and more likely that the recommendations out of this commission will, initially at least, allow for one last push. The Generals have been asking for more troops for years, but Bush has been unwilling to take that political blow. Now faced with a Congress that will push back and demand more details on how, exactly, the president plans to “win” this thing, Bush finds himself ready to provide the Generals with what they’ve wanted all along. The only problem is, it’s too late.
So again, what do the Democrats do? They were given the keys to Congress in large part because they suggested (and some stated directly) that they would begin to put an end to the Iraq occupation. If the President wants to increase troop levels, I’m afraid that they are inclined to let him, if for no other reason than to allow the President to dig himself in deeper thus boosting their political standing, but by going along with the President on this one, they will be held responsible for each and every casualty we suffer as a result. From the public’s perspective, Bush is just being Bush by staying the course, where Democrats promised a vigorous opposition to Bush’s Iraq policy and if they fail to provide that, they will be viewed as failures.
What the Democrats must recognize is that the White House strategy at this point is to put the Democratic Congress in a no win situation. If they oppose Bush’s “strategy to win” especially when it is seconded by Baker and crew, they are preventing us winning in Iraq. And if they go the extra step and refuse to fund the war (an act I have no faith they would even entertain) they are putting our soldiers at risk. With Democrats still wary of showing any real spine (or conviction), it’s almost a foregone conclusion that they will opt out of making any real decision at all. That way, if the President succeeds, they were part of the solution and if he fails, they weren’t part of the problem. That may work for them politically, but morally, it’s more than a little questionable. Political fear on the part of the Democrats is how we got into this mess in the first place, and political courage is the only way out.
There isn’t a good solution to the mess we’ve created in Iraq, only finding the least repugnant option that will allow some semblance of stability. The Bush administration seems to have given up on the idea of democracy in Iraq and now will settle for anything short of total chaos. The problem is, this administration has a proven track record of creating chaos and has shown no ability to work with others or solve anything. Sending in more American troops will only escalate the violence. Until the effort to cobble together some sort of peace in Iraq is internationalized and includes the countries with the greatest influence in Iraq (Iran and Syria), there is no end in sight. We could send in an additional 20,000 troops each month and all we will accomplish is more death, more destruction and ensure that anti-Americanism spreads like wildfire. That may bode well for the Democrat’s chances of taking the White House in ’08, but it seems like an awfully high price to pay for a political victory.