Wednesday, February 21, 2007

War Supporters Whine Over Brit Pull-Out

The Washington Post reports that Iraq war supporters in the White House and the Grand Old Party are disappointed about the announced Brit troop withdrawal from Iraq because it gives war critics and troop surge opponents ammunition to fight the attacks on their patriotism:

No matter the military merits, the British move, followed by a similar announcement by Denmark, roiled the political debate in Washington at perhaps the worst moment for the White House. Democrats seized on the news as evidence that Bush's international coalition is collapsing and that the United States is increasingly alone in a losing cause. Even some Republicans, and, in private, White House aides, agreed that the announcement sent an ill-timed message to the American public.


White House officials said they had known for a while that the British were moving in this direction and that Prime Minister Tony Blair informed Bush of his decision during a secure videoconference Tuesday. But the rest of Washington was taken by surprise, and Republicans were put back on their heels, just as they were beginning to feel more confident that the fight over war strategy was shifting their way.

The House last week approved a nonbinding resolution opposing the president's planned deployment of 21,500 additional troops to Baghdad and Anbar province in western Iraq. But Republicans have since been on offense, hammering a House Democratic plan that would tie war funding in a supplemental spending bill to strict new standards for resting, equipping and training troops.

The strategy, championed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and endorsed in principle by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was supposed to neutralize GOP charges that Democrats plan to "de-fund" the war, while forcing Republicans to defend the deployment of troops who are not rated fully trained and equipped. But Republicans labeled it a "slow bleed" strategy that would leave troops in harm's way by blocking their reinforcements


The news of Britain's partial withdrawal, though, swamped the funding debate for at least a day. "The timing of the British announcement is very unfortunate," said Nile Gardiner, a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The British decision is going to be used as a political football by opponents of the president's Iraq plan."

Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) said the move will undercut Republicans in Congress trying to stave off attempts to limit what Bush can do in Iraq.

"It's probably not going to bode well for those of us who want to make a case against what Murtha and Pelosi plan for the supplemental," LaHood said. "It does not help."

Now that Tony "Bush's Poodle" Blair has announced a troop withdrawal timetable, it does become a bit difficult for War Repubs and the White House to tar Dems and GOP opponents of the preznut's surge policy as "cut-and-runners" and "defeatists."

Not that they won't try, though.

Cheney did so today even as he was declaring the British pull-out as a sign of Mission Accomplished in Iraq.

With the Brits and the Danes pulling out just as we're putting more troops in, with the levels violence in and around Baghdad as bad as before the start of the troop surge, with 8 helicopters shot down in the past month and with insurgents having pulled three chemical attacks in the past few weeks, maybe the news media will finally start to cover the real story on the preznut's troop surge policy - it's failing and no amount of Repub rhetoric and Orwellian spin is going to change the reality on the ground in Iraq. The civil war is getting worse by the day.

UPDATE: Via The Wall Street Journal, here's what Middle East Expert Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies sees happening as a result of the British withdrawal plan:

The reduction in the British troop levels “will in many ways simply reflect the political reality that the British ‘lost’ the south more than a year ago. The Shi’ites will takeover, Iranian influence will probably expand, and more Sunnis, Christians, and other minorities will leave. British action will mean more pressure for federation and separatism, but local power struggles are more likely to be between Shi’ite factions than anything else.”

“The irony,” he said in a brief analysis, “is that British force cuts may well have the same de facto effect as the new set of U.S. military operations in Baghdad… In effect, both the UK and US may end up acting to expand Shi’ite influence in very different ways.”

In a paper entitled "The Calm Before The Storm: The British Experience in Southern Iraq," Michael Knights and Ed Williams of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy describe the south of Iraq this way:

“Instead of a stable, united, law-abiding region with a representative government and police primacy, the deep south is unstable, factionalized, lawless, ruled as a kleptocracy and subject to militia primacy,” they write.

The authors go on to quote Brig. James Everard, the British commander in the region until last November. “Freedom of speech, freedom of expression: it just hasn’t quite worked out the way it was planned. They’re just not prepared to debate. They tend to do things at the end of a gun.”

Yeah, the south of Iraq sure sounds like Mission Accomplished to me.

Remind me again, how much money and and how many lives did Bush and Blair waste to bring about this mess?

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