The situation in Iraq is going from not just bad, but rather really bad to if possible, really worse. First Lady Laura Bush and family pooch Barney can't even argue that. At some point, and hopefully soon, President Bush won't either.
With Iraq seemingly out of control and now Iran military action looming on the horizon, it's time to stop the music, force the issue and resurrect with determination, the Iraq troop withdrawal debate from this past summer. This time however, in a sensible, astute, strong, decision making way.
The Republicans want the American public, the Democrats and our allies to accept their claim that the Iraqis can't secure themselves, and to this author's astonishment, they've shrewdly succeeded. Given the Administration's self serving, pro-active commitment to ensure the Iraqis can't, is the only reason why I personally would agree. However, that objective is certainly attainable and definitely achievable if and when the Administration instead finally decides to legitimately and concertedly make it happen.
To accept the Administration's "we can't leave because they (Iraqis) can't do it themselves" is to accept a sham cover for occupation, as there is no other conclusion. If occupation is the intent, the Administration has a huge disincentive to legitimately help (train/force) the Iraqis to become functionally self secure. The poor results to date in building a quality Iraqi security force support this conclusion.
Why is the Administration pursuing this path? The answer is because if and when the Iraqis do achieve that functionally self secure capability, they officially only then become liberated, and we immediately become redundant and have no purpose, thereby removing the Administration's argument for any longer remaining there i.e. obviating occupation. The American people need to be told that's in fact what all the doom and gloom propaganda really means that the intent is in fact occupation, not liberation and therefore we are there forever; that is if no opposing strong willed entity intervenes and truly stands toe to toe to challenge the Administration. So far, no one has stepped up to assume that role.
Rather than feigning from his bullying challenge, gladly embrace it and enthusiastically respond by providing an available, solid, sound and responsible alternative to the President's stated "they (Democrats) have a responsibility to provide a credible alternative to the fighting".
The answer lies in a third alternative the Republicans won't admit exists and which is the antithesis to "cut and run". Cut and run is what the Republicans wrongly and with seemingly purposeful intent to mislead the American public, define as withdrawal. It's not. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Author's note: I will address the cut and run option in an entirely different context in a coming OpEd.
For now, addressing the GOP "cut and run" ploy, it is imperative the Democrats immediately and unequivocally defuse this misinformation, and take this "tactic" off the table, and finally make the clear night and day distinction to the American people between "cut and run" and "controlled withdrawal". Candidly, I find it quite astonishing the distinction has not yet been made by the Democrats and the GOP having been allowed to get away it, being completely unchallenged.
These two concepts are not "mutually inclusive" as the Administration wants the American people and the Democrats to believe. Instead they are completely opposite "mutually exclusive". "Cut and Run" leaves an immediate and huge, if not gaping void a security vacuum. "Controlled Withdrawal" on the other hand, leaves absolutely none. Cut and run is "remove and don't replace". Controlled withdrawal on the other hand is "replace as you remove". Controlled withdrawal not only maintains current security level as you "replace removed" US troops with Iraqis, but by replacing them too with 3X's as many Iraqis as US troops withdrawn, the security situation steadily improves throughout the buildup with the ever expanding and improving security coverage and reach.
Now to that third Iraq exit strategy option, after noting the first two presented by the President as being occupation/quagmire and the second, cut and run, is called "3 for 1 and Done", a controlled withdrawal plan/framework. Unlike quagmire, which is occupation driven, "3 for 1 and Done" is premised upon both a natural extension and conclusion to the going-in liberation theme, the one which we the American people embraced and approved for the invasion.
The Democrats need to present this sensible alternative, with conviction, to the American people and just as importantly if not more so, demand it be acted upon by the Administration with that which does not exist under the current GOP occupation plan - discipline and accountability of both the Bush Administration and the military. At the moment, the Administration and the military are for all intents and purposes not accountable; the goal of the incredibly effective Cheney/Rove bully machine. The fact remains, they must be made so or nothing will change.
To see how the 3-1-Done Plan would work, let's first get a snapshot of where we are.