Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In for the long haul

I don't want to burst anybody's bubble, but however dissatisfied Nancy Pelosi might be, it looks as if the U.S. is going to have considerable numbers of troops in Iraq at least until January 2009. Gen Petraeus accentuated the postive in his congressional appearances, but he did it in the kind of nuanced way Bush doesn't seem to be capable of, thus appearing reasonably credible. Whether he should be considered credible is another story I hope to do a few posts on soon, but unless I'm a poor judge I suspect he was credible to the Bush base and even to most Americans -- or at least credible enough to buy some more time, which may be all the administration really wanted.

If that's the case, the numbers are too much for Congress to overcome. Any resolution setting a date to begin withdrawal, for example, would need to be able muster two-thirds in the House to override a certain presidential veto. In the Senate a resolution would need to muster 60 votes, and I can't see 11 Republicans crossing over, unless polling closer to the election shows supporting the war will lose them their cushy seats. Even then maybe not.

Most Americans now think the war was a mistake and want out, but many are vulnerable to arguments against a "precipitous" withdrawal and the war is a primary driving issue for only a few. If that changes the political equation could change. But I see Bush getting another six months, and then another (to draw down the 30,000) and then he can hand off the mess to Hillary -- or maybe Ron Paul.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep making the case for immediate withdrawal, or for accelerated withdrawal/transition plans. We need to keep the pressure on and perhaps win over enough more Americans to force the politicians' hands. But we should approach the mission with realism.

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