Yet, even with the political equivocations from the Democrats, their intentions for Iraq likely represent the only hope those who oppose the occupation have for effecting any significant exit or end to the engagement within the next presidential term. Moreover, the republicans' political posturing on Iraq has developed into a contest over which of their candidates intends to dig our troops further into the Iraqi sand, rather than giving any attention, at all, to addressing the demonstrated will of the majority of the American people that we leave Iraq to the Iraqis.
"I don't think we would say it's better off than it was eight years ago, to be truthful. I think the eight years that you've seen -- and I don't blame that on President Bush. I blame that on Washington," Romney said. "He was hit by something which completely took his agenda off course, and that was the Iraq conflict and the attack of 9/11, and Afghanistan. All these things came together," he explained.
In Romney's world, none of the effects or consequences of these fall within the responsibility of the presidency. In neglecting exploding budgets that his party completely controlled -- from the WH to both houses of Congress -- for the majority of his term, and in escalating the consequences of his manufactured military aggression in Iraq, Bush and his republican enablers have effectively been unabated masters and orchestrators of the destruction and chaos they're posturing to defend us against. Romney wants us to believe he and his party were just bystanders at their own train wreck.
Romney wanted to 'make it clear' in the debate, that he would not "pull our troops out until we have brought success in Iraq, and that means that, we do not have safe havens for al Qaeda or Hezbollah or anyone else, that our troops have secured the population from that kind of threat, that they will not have safe havens from which they could launch attacks against us."
"We have to understand that we lost the 2006 election and the Democrats thought that they had a mandate," McCain said. "They thought they had a mandate to get us out of Iraq . . . I have fought for this surge, he argued, "I have said we need to have this succeed. I know the situation in Iraq and I am proud to have supported this president and supported the fact that we are succeeding in Iraq today."
McCain has also said that a 100-year U.S. military presence in Iraq would "be fine" with him. "As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That’s fine with me," he had said. Asked about the comment, later, McCain upped the ante to "a thousand years or a million years."
It's hard to imagine any position the Democratic candidates may take on Iraq which approaches that level of commitment to perpetual chaos and unending militarism. If there is a judgment made by the vast majority of Americans favoring a hasty withdrawal from Iraq, which is based only on these two republicans candidates' marriage to Bush's stubborn refusal to disengage, there can be no other option but to support one of the Democratic nominees to victory in the presidential election, whoever that may be.
There is the presumed republican frontrunner (and his republican rival) proposing to keep our military engaged in Iraq for the sole purpose of defending the propped-up government there against the consequences and effects of the occupation itself. McCain wants to section-off Bush's "surge" of troops into Iraq and present that escalation of force as its own insulated conflict, removed from the untidy questions of the lies which took us there, or the shifting justifications for remaining.
"We are succeeding. We are succeeding," McCain pleaded. "And I unequivocally put my career and my political fortunes on the line and unequivocally said we're going to support this surge. We're not going to talk about timetables or anything else; we're going to talk about winning and what's necessary to win," he said.
"And I'm the only one that said that Rumsfeld had to go and the Petraeus strategy is the one that can succeed. That's because I have the experience, the knowledge, and the judgment."
Our Democratic candidates stand, and will remain, in stark opposition to all of that, even in their equivocations. That may well be more of a measure of republicans' extremism than of some solid affinity with every plank of anti- occupation voters bottom line, but it's as firm a contrast as we're going to get, or should need to make a choice in the general election.