Friday, July 18, 2008

An Iraq withdrawal "time horizon" for the U.S.?

So it's being reported today that the Bush administration has agreed with the Maliki government of Iraq to establish a "time horizon" for further U.S. troop withdrawals from there, and for turning over more authority for security etc to the Iraqi army and police. Details here.

As you can see from the link, the Washington Post trumpets this as a major shift, even a concession, by the Bush administration. Me, I don't see it. At least not yet. The language I saw that's been agreed to is very general, very vague. It contains no definite dates, no rigid timetable.

Furthermore, and this is a very important point: it has ALWAYS been the policy of this administration to do what they're talking about today. To maintain, that is, security in Iraq; to defeat the terrorist insurgency; to support the establishment of a stable, more democratic Iraqi government. And once those goals were achieved, of course our plan was to draw down and eventually leave, once victory was assured. Well, guess what--the surge (which Democrats, don't forget, lambasted, ridiculed, said could never work, said would lead to MORE violence and more failure) is working, the Iraqi government has improved, and we are succeeding in Iraq. So of course we can begin looking to reduce our presence there.

So right now, for conservatives supportive of what's been going on in Iraq, the points to stress are: any time horizon need not be seen as a major shift. It was the plan all along. And pound away at the fact that most Democrats and liberals opposed the troop surge of 2007, and their opposition has been shown to be wrong, wrong, wrong. And that includes the opposition of Senator Obama.

UPDATE: Peter Wehner at the Weekly Standard hits this very point today, and explains further its importance:

"...Obama repeatedly insisted that his superior "judgment" on Iraq is more important than experience in national security affairs. Judgment, according to Obama, is what qualifies him to be commander in chief. So what can we discern about Obama's judgment on the surge, easily the most important national security decision since the Iraq war began in March 2003?"

Wehner's answer? Obama was wrong, "spectacularly" wrong. Exactly.