Regardless of Red State or Blue State – They’re ALL Yankin’ Your Chain!

The Iraq Debate That Wasn’t

By MASSIMO CALABRESI/WASHINGTON

Americans would be forgiven for thinking there’s a major debate underway in Washington over whether or not the U.S. should leave Iraq. The Senate is halfway through two weeks of fierce fighting over setting timelines, enforcing benchmarks and generally trying to pressure the White House to reduce the number of American troops there. President Bush held a lengthy press conference, Thursday, in which he hinted he might change course on the war after his generals report to him in September. Once they’ve done so, he said, “We’ll use that data… to, you know, make another decision, if need be.”

Whether or not Bush finds it necessary to “make another decision” probably won’t be known until September. But ask senior White House staffers involved in Iraq planning what they imagine such a course shift would mean for troop levels, and you get a range just under 100,000. And what would these troops be doing? Bush himself laid it out today. “There’s a lot of discussion about a scenario in which our troop posture would be to guard the territorial integrity of — of the country of Iraq, to embed and train, to help the Iraqi security forces deal with violent elements in their society, as well as keep enough Special Forces there to chase down al-Qaeda. As a matter of fact, that is something that I’ve spoken publicly about, so that’s — that’s the position I would like to see us in.”

The prospect of 100,000 troops doing all of that in the middle of sectarian fighting, and under continued attack from suicide bombers, doesn’t sound much like what most Americans would imagine as the end of the war in Iraq. True, it would mean removing the combat forces that go head-to-head with insurgents on the ground because they are patrolling to provide security — a responsibility that would pass to Iraqi forces, such as they are. That, in turn, would mean a drop in casualties. But short of the outbreak of peace in Iraq — not likely — White House planners don’t foresee even a majority of American forces coming out anytime soon.

So what’s with all the end-the-war talk? The impression being created by the debate in Washington is more about politics than anything else. For starters, Democrats are playing to their base: Though most Senate Democrats support a redeployment along the lines that Bush is describing, they are keen to give voters the impression that they are all for getting the U.S. out of Iraq. And they are, but not yet. They, too, recognize a need for a strong, interim force in country to offset the threat of mass killing, secure the borders, chase al-Qaeda and deter Iranian meddling in the country.

As for the Republicans, they too are playing to core supporters. They know that, in theory at least, Bush wants a smaller role for U.S. troops; he’s been trying to get there for years, now. But their interest is to cast the political battle with Democrats as one of strength vs. defeatism. So, even if the Democrats’ position is not in fact that far from where the President claims to be headed, both sides are portraying the gap between them as unbridgeable. Which, in turn, leaves the impression that the debate is between those who want to escalate the war and those who want to withdraw U.S. forces entirely.

One way or another, something along the lines the President is describing will likely occur in 2008, if not sooner. And then, regardless of the situation on the ground, Bush will say he moved the right number of troops at the right time. The Democrats will say they forced him to do so, and will find new ways to keep the mess in Iraq front and center in the national debate — without necessarily pushing to bring all the troops home right away. If you’re looking for someone who will lead a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, you’ll have to go to the extreme left or right of the parties. Nobody in the mainstream is looking to get out soon.

From Time

Say “When.”

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  1. It is time to leave the two colors, red and blue, behind. There are a rainbow of other colors in third parties. Choose one of them. The blues and reds have only a cuntinuation strategy in Iraq. This is why the blues have not said “when” on impeachment, they agree to continue the war, why change executives? Whoever would wind up in the white house post impeachment would do the same old, same old anyway. No matter be they dem or repub.

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer

  2. illa morales

    SIDE STEPPIN’ THE GOV’T. THINK WE ALL SHOULD!!
    Schwarzenegger and Crist blaze a greener trail
    Taking on emissions, and leading an environmental revolt at the state level

    By ANNA SCOTT

    anna.scott@heraldtribune.com

    MIAMI — Professing a moral duty to protect the environment, Gov. Charlie Crist signed the state’s first energy package aimed at reducing greenhouse gases Friday and said he was willing to sue the federal government to make it happen.

    The executive orders require Florida to reduce carbon emissions the same way California has, by cutting them 20 percent by 2012, with an end goal of a 40 percent reduction by 2025.

    To get there, Crist outlined a variety of carbon-cutting strategies — including adopting a controversial California law that forces automakers to reduce carbon emissions by 2012.

    But along with similar rules, Florida now shares something else with California: a fight with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which has to grant waivers for auto emissions standards more stringent than federal levels.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, who appeared with Crist at the end of a two-day global warming summit in Miami, has promised to sue the EPA if it does not grant the waiver before November.

    Crist said he would be “privileged” to join Schwarzenegger in suing on behalf of California’s petition, which was filed almost two years ago.

    “As the old adage goes, there’s strength in numbers,” Crist said. “The more we get to sign on, the more that end up helping us, governor after governor, mayor after mayor, the strength becomes that much stronger every time.”

    Crist’s willingness to fight the federal agency underscores growing tension between the federal government and states trying to take the lead on a problem that has global implications.

    Florida is the first state in the South to announce stricter rules on carbon emissions, which are blamed for causing the planet to heat up. It joins coalitions of 11 other states on the West Coast and in the Northeast.

    In a speech to the 600 people who attended the two-day summit, Schwarzenegger called the governments “states who are not looking to Washington for leadership anymore,” and said it was up to them to push for national changes that would in turn spur global ones.

    He urged Florida to beware of attacks from the business community, noting that auto industry billboards in Michigan say, “Arnold to Michigan: drop dead.”

    “What I’m saying is ‘Arnold to Michigan: get off your butt,'” the California governor said, drawing roaring applause.

    “We can grow the economy and still simultaneously protect the environment. It’s not a choice, it’s not either/or. The two go hand in hand.”

    Citing Florida’s new rules, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Barbara Boxer of California filed federal legislation Friday that would free states to set their own emissions standards, and force the EPA to act on deadline.

    Federal representatives were not present at the summit, but dignitaries from the United Kingdom and Germany were. Crist signed agreements with both countries to work toward reducing carbon emissions, and to hold meetings to discuss best practices and new technology.

    While Schwarzenegger and Crist’s work on climate issues has vaulted the governors onto a national stage, it puts them at odds with the Bush administration, which initially denied the validity of global warming and has since been slow to act.

    Eyebrows raised at the summit on Thursday when speaker Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a leader in the push to stop global warming, used the platform to deride the president on issues from the environment to the war in Iraq.

    Crist and Schwarzenegger championed their positions as new GOP leaders, willing to break with party tradition to push for strict environmental controls — even in the face of an angry business community that will shoulder some of the cost of the changes.

    “For me to be in the middle of all this is really wild, because three and a half years ago when I was running for governor, I had environmental protesters following me around saying: ‘He’s a Republican! Please stop! Don’t vote for him! He’s going to destroy the environment! He’s driving Hummers and flying around in planes!'” Schwarzenegger said.

    “We have proven that Republicans can, in fact, protect the environment,” he said.




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