With the glory of the year:
You shall make the Autumn precious,
And the death of Summer dear" --Howe
Republicans are settling in on a new destination for an apparent limit of their obstinacy toward the Iraq occupation. September has emerged as the point where nervous republicans say they'll 'reexamine' their insistence that our troops fight and die to prop up their Iraqi junta. It's not to be believed, of course, but it's more than revealing that the most slanderous critics of a timeline for an Iraq exit are now setting deadlines for their own obstruction to the change of course voters demanded in the November elections.
The formulation of a Plan 'B' for Iraq is being urged on Bush by republican leaders, but not until they allow the escalated occupation to play out even further through the sweltering summer. In about 120 days, Bush's general in Iraq, David Petraeus, has promised to produce a report in September telling us how he thinks the disaster is proceeding. He's pledged to define the effect of his "surge" which will, anyway, unfold before all of our disbelieving eyes.
"September will be a good time for the assessment," Petraeus said at the end of April, "because the additional U.S. forces that are being deployed to Iraq will have been on the ground for several months, more Iraqi security forces will be trained and equipped, and the Iraqi government will have had time to make more progress," he said.
"We're taking the fight to him (the enemy), and as a result of that there's going to be additional casualties," he said in Baghdad. "All of us believe that in the next 90 days we're going to see an increase in casualties."
Despite that grim assessment, republicans are content to leave our soldiers in place to give what Bush has described as Iraq's "young democracy" even more time to make "political decisions." They will sit on their hands and wait until September, as Petraeus promised, "to see if there is an exploitation of the opportunity that we believe our soldiers and Iraqi soldiers and police will have provided to the Iraqi governmental leaders to come to grips, again, with some of these really tough legislative issues," the general said in April.
This weekend republicans in Congress lined up to echo that promise, in the vain hope that they could deflect the rising anger among Americans toward the continued occupation, reflected in their president's 67% disapproval rate reported in the last few days.
Senate republican Minority Leader Boehner said this weekend that "By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B."
Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott, on Monday, repeated the call for a Plan 'B' by September if their deepening occupation and the Iraqi regime's intransigence continues. Asking for "patience" Lott said he thinks "this fall we have to see some significant changes on the ground, in Baghdad and other surrounding areas . . . Obviously, his (Petraeus') response or developments will make a difference in the next fiscal year," he told reporters.
The WaPo reported on republicans lining up behind the September deadline for the unraveling of their obstinacy toward an end:
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Oregon), beleaguered by overwhelming opposition to the occupation in his state, reportedly remarked that, "Many of my Republican colleagues have been promised they will get a straight story on the surge by September. I won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq at that point. That is very clear to me."
On cue, another Senate republican embattled by opposition to the continued occupation in his own state, Norm Coleman of Minnesota was reported to have said, "There is a sense that by September, you've got to see real action on the part of Iraqis . . . I think everybody knows that, I really do."
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine gave her two cents in agreement: "I think a lot of us feel that way," she offered.
House republicans are starting to weigh in on the September assessment, as well. In an open letter to constituents, republican Rep. James Walsh wrote that, "If it's not working, we should be prepared to begin withdrawing our soldiers . . . I just want to be sure that when Gen. Petraeus makes his assessment in September, that he does so with absolute clarity and independence," he said.
If republicans are to believed, September will emerge as a month of reckoning for Bush's occupation of Iraq. Nonetheless, their declarations are an opening to not only hold the administration accountable for their promises of "success" behind the increasing sacrifices of our soldiers, but also to challenge their republican enablers in Congress who have, so far, refused to stand up for an measure of accountability for the fiasco they've supported with their resistance to any legislative rebuke to it's indefinite continuation.
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