Thursday, January 11, 2007

How they'll spin the Iraq troop punt, two years from now

I forget where I read that the best term for the "surge" isn't escalation but a troop "punt" - the idea is to punt responsibility for the inevitable drawdown to the next president. The problem for Republicans is handling the moderate chance that the next president will be Republican.

So my prediction - if a Democrat wins, the failure in Iraq only became inevitable because of the new president's mistakes in not sticking it out in Iraq. If a Republican wins, then blame for failure and withdrawal in 2009 lies squarely at the feet of the responsible party - the Iraqi people, for whom the Republicans gave every possible advantage. Republicans will oppose withdrawal in 2009 done by a Democratic president, and support it if done by a Republican.

While that's the plan, it's hardly a strong political position. McCain has no choice but to follow the troop punt plan, given his pro-Iraq war position generally, and pray for a weak Democratic nominee. Senator Brownback (R-Crazy) is trying to create a little space between himself and an implosion in Iraq that could take down McCain. It'll be interesting to see the choices of the other major Republican candidates.

And meanwhile, shades of Tora Bora again as the Bush punt takes troops out of Afghanistan who would be fighting a resurgent Taliban. I'm sticking with my framing argument for Democrats and sane Republicans - the strategy should be get out of Iraq so we can go fix Afghanistan. The exact opposite of Bush's plan.

P.S. Thought I'd add this chart - first figure is Iraqi police/military fatalities, and the second is Iraqi civilian fatalities. See any sign that Iraqi security forces will move to stop sectarian violence?


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