A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Brent Budowsky
Election: If Republicans Win, Bush Requests More Troops to Iraq, If Democrats Win, Baker Moves Major Policy Change.
The new Army planning to keep current troops levels in Iraq into 2010 is a very honest plan based on the current policy. Note this Army contingency does not mean American troops stay into 2010 and then leave. It means the current projection, based on the current policy, is troop strength remains at current levels and our presence will, in fact, continue long after.
The truth is: the Iraq War has reached a penultimate inflection point and the outcome of the Congressional elections will determine the policy. This is tragic, but true.
The decision about whether to wage war, should never be made for political reasons, but in 2002, it was.
The commander in chief should never use a war for domestic partisan purposes, but since the beginning, George Bush has.
The policy of whether to continue a war should never be tied to an election result, but now, it is.
The truth is, in purely military terms, if we project the current policy continues, more troops are needed to implement it. Chaos is everywhere in Iraq. The new "Baghdad Offensive" has not reduced violence, which has increased during our stepped up efforts, while the Iraqi police have been revealed as being heavily infiltrated by death squads and insurgents, forcing American troops to do police work.
There are alternatives. Many commanders privately prefer the kind of policy I and others have advocated: a political solution that would involve a cease fire with political power sharing between internal Iraqi opponents, aimed at ending the civil war, not escalating our role, in it.
Such a plan would not include outside terrorists, but would very dramatically lower American casualties, and allow the process of withdrawl to begin. Instead of military policy embroiling the U.S. in a civil war, it would mean a political policy aimed at ending the civil war, while American troops are redeployed in short order.
It would mean greater automony for the three major regions in Iraq.
It would mean the central government would have to come to grips with its own people, and the U.S. government will no longer be an escalating participant in an endless civil war.
Given the mess today, there are no easy answers and no pretty policies, but there are alterantives that reduce and hopefully end the carnage, extricate the United States from a disastrous policy, and move to preserve civil society and democratic institutions in Iraq.
The problem is: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld and if they can succeed winning another election, with another two years of unchecked power, heaven help us. If they win another election despite every failure and catastrophe, their arrogance in the past will be mild compared to what will follow.
The policy will not be changed because they learn from mistakes; they dont. The policy will not be changed because they see the results and realize alternatives are needed; they wont. The policy will not be changed because they realize how wrong this is; they cant.
What is necessary to change to policy, is to change the Congress, to re-establish checks and balances, to restore Congressional roles in war powers, to re-create Congressional oversight that has been catastrophically negligent by a Republican Congress acting supine to a Republican President.
The Jim Baker initiative presents one great danger and one great opportunity. Make no mistake, Baker is a tough partisan and a tough operative, but make no mistake, Baker is one of the smartest guys to set foot in Washington in generations. He never wanted this war. He does not want it now. He knows we need an exit strategy.
The danger: that if Republicans appear to be on brink of defeat in November, Baker springs an October Surprise peace initiative right before the election, which saves the GOP, then disappears right after the election, when Bush thinks he has triumphantly won again and refuses all compromise with the new Republican Congress.
The opportunity: that if Democrats win the election and regain control of Congress, Baker makes his move, backed by a new Democratic Congress, backed by many Republicans in it, backed by General Casey and the commanders, backed by a grateful nation, and our long Iraq nightmare ends.
The stakes in this election are enormous.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION