Democratic leaders in the Senate vowed on Sunday to use their new Congressional majority to press for troop reductions in Iraq within a matter of months, stepping up pressure on the administration just as President Bush is to be interviewed by a bipartisan panel examining future strategy for the war.Today's top story at the Los Angeles Times also has the Democratic push for an Iraq pullout.
The Democrats — the incoming majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada; the incoming Armed Services Committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan; and the incoming Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware — said a phased redeployment of troops would be their top priority when the new Congress convenes in January, even before an investigation of the conduct of the war.
Both articles make reference to the bipartisan Iraq panel led by James Baker and Lee Hamiliton, political realists expected to recommend a shift toward regional diplomacy and greater cooperation on Iraq from neighboring countries. Yet, Michael Rubin, in today' s Wall Street Journal, is skeptical of the Democratic agenda, dismissing this as "progressive realism" promoting short-term gain at the expense of long-term security. Reconciliation with Iran and Syria is silly, notes Rubin, for both countries harbor designs for regional hegemony, and Iran has pledged to wipe Israel off the face of the map.
John McCain appeared on Meet the Press Sunday, arguing for a continued presence in Iraq with additional forces as needed. This is the position that Robert Kagan and William Kristol take in yesterday's Finanicial Times. Kagan and Kristol recommend increasing the deployment by 50,000 troops, a force level predicted to fully secure Baghdad while leaving enough troop coverage in remaining areas around the country to keep stability. Kagan and Kristol, of course, are among the top neoconservatives who advocated toppling Saddam's regime back in 2003. While some neocons have since recanted their support for the administration (but have not apologized for the policy, which is what Michael Kinsley would like to see), Kagan and Kristol remain firm in their support for the deployment and remain optimistic on a U.S. victory.
As noted in a previous post, I am open to a partial Iraqi withdrawal that is combined with an increased support role for American advisors. I appreciate the resolve of those like McCain and others, and I'd like the U.S. to at least try a major push to stabilize the country before going to the phased drawdown option.