Friday, July 29, 2005

# Posted 3:50 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE GOP'S SECRET PLAN TO CUT-AND-RUN FROM IRAQ: As OxBlog observed yesterday, certain journalists have begun to oversell the Pentagon's caveat-laden talk of a partial withdrawal from Iraq in 2006. Today Fred Kaplan gets in on the act.

Kaplan makes the very good point that Rumsfeld's talk of a possible withdrawal is a tactical maneuver designed to increase the Iraqi government's sense that it better start learning how to defend itself. Yet Kaplan can't resist speculating that what's really going on is that the GOP is afraid of running in 2006 and 2008 with American troops still in Iraq:
Domestic opposition to the war is rising; the latest polls show 55 percent of the American public thinks it's a bad idea and, further, has doubts we can win. It's a fair guess that top Republicans have approached the president or his henchmen to say they'd prefer that the war not be an issue in the 2006 congressional elections—and that it be off the table entirely by 2008.
Not that I'm a relativist, but one man's fair guess is another man's wild speculation. Undoubtedly, some Republicans would prefer to get out of Iraq. Yet there was speculation across the board, starting in mid-2003, that Bush would cut and run rather than face a tough re-election fight with our soldiers still in Iraq. But Bush refused to compromise and won the election decisively. So what makes anyone think that "top Republicans" have much hope of persuading Bush to pull out now?

What it comes down to, I think, is that lots of very smart people are still having a very hard time getting their heads around the idea that a Republican president has become the embodiment of idealism with regard to America's mission in the world. These folks want to believe that the real difference about Democrats and Republicans when it comes to Iraq is that the Democrats are willing to admit that we should pull out because promoting democracy there is a lost cause. But the real difference may be that the President is willing to pay the price of being an idealist while most of his critics simply aren't.
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