Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It’s either “stay-the-course” or fire Rumsfeld

The situation in Iraq is deteriorating to the point that even members of the majority party are acknowledging U.S. policy is a train wreck. This from the Associated Press:

"We're on the verge of chaos, and the current plan is not working," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in an Associated Press interview. U.S. and Iraqi officials should be held accountable for the lack of progress, said
Graham, a Republican who is a frequent critic of the administration's policies.

Asked who in particular should be held accountable _ Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, perhaps, or the generals leading the war _ Graham said: "All of them. It's their job to come up with a game plan" to end the violence

Frustration with the war is eroding support in Republican as well
as Democratic camps.

Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, said two Republicans have told him they will demand a new policy in
Iraq after the election. Biden declined to name the GOP lawmakers. He said
Republicans have been told not to make waves before the election because it
could cost the party seats. Yet some prominent GOP lawmakers have expressed
doubts about Bush's policy.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said the United States was
continually adjusting its strategy in Iraq.

"In that sense there are new things going on. But are there dramatic shifts in policy? The answer is no," Snow said.

"There is still a very large to-do list before Iraq is in a position to sustain, govern and defend itself," he said.

"Are we issuing ultimatums? No."

He acknowledged, however, that Bush no longer is saying that the
United States will "stay the course" in Iraq.

"He stopped using it," Snow said of that phrase, adding that it left the impression that the administration was not adjusting its strategy to realities in Baghdad.

Abandoning the slogan, stay-the-course, is hardly a policy change. This administration keeps talking about victory in Iraq yet does nothing to win. The vacuum we created by failing to do the critical political work as well as the physical reconstruction in Iraq in the months following the overthrow of Sadam Hussein was a window of opportunity allowed to slip through our fingers by the incompetence and corruption of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The title of Larry Diamond’s book, Squandered Victory, sums it up.

The question is what to do now. There are no good or easy solutions. However, whatever is to be done cannot be done under the current leadership primarily responsible for this mess. If President Bush cares as all for the American soldiers in the field as well as the Iraqi people then he must fire Donald Rumsfeld immediately.

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