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GOP And Dems In Iraq Denial

Photo courtesy AFP.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Jun 26, 2007
Republicans and Democrats alike remain in denial in their political policymaking on Iraq. That denial looks likely to play havoc with both parties in the U.S. national elections next year. Despite more moderate rhetoric about possible eventual troop withdrawals, President George W. Bush and his top policymakers appear to remain committed to maintaining the U.S. military presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

The latest "surge" policy put 28,000 more U.S. troops into Iraq. If Bush authorizes any U.S. air strike against the nuclear facilities in neighboring Iran, anti-American sentiments will no doubt surge among Iraq's 60 percent majority Shiites. This could be used as a pretext to maintain U.S. forces at their current levels, or even to significantly increase them.

As UPI Editor-at-Large Arnaud de Borchgrave has reported, the current and previous directors of national intelligence, Adm. Michael McConnell and current Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, have testified that the president remains an insatiable reader of history who has been devouring biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher in recent months.

De Borchgrave reported that the president is said by intimates to identify with all three figures as great leaders who stayed the course in major conflicts. That information, coupled with the moves this year that boosted U.S. troop presence and active military involvement in Iraq rather than scaling it down, also points to a determination to stay there.

So do the details released of work continuing on 13 major U.S. military bases in Iraq. No nation invests in massive and expensive military infrastructure in another country if it expects to evacuate its forces from that country in the foreseeable future.

Iraq became an independent nation in the early 1930s, but the British Empire retained major military bases there for more than a quarter of century until they were forcibly expelled after the bloody military coup that massacred the entire Iraqi royal family in 1958.

Republican sentiment in Congress, even among the traditionally more conservative GOP members of the House of Representatives, does not want to see a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq. But they remain unwilling to recognize that this is, in reality, the president's policy. And so far they have remained loyal in rejecting efforts by congressional Democrats to impose timetables for the withdrawal or reduction of U.S. military forces in Iraq in congressional legislation.

So deep-rooted is the antipathy of conservative Republicans in the House for any move that appears defeatist, this general attitude looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

Congressional Democrats recognize both the president's determination to stay in Iraq and the unwillingness of Republicans on Capitol Hill to challenge or defy him on it. They welcome both developments as likely to lead to a huge landslide for them in the 2008 national elections that will not only deliver to them a President Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Al Gore, but also veto-proof majorities in both the Senate and the House to go with them.

Then all the legislative structures established by Bush and his three Republican-dominated congresses up to November 2006 -- and even the entire legislative edifice of Reaganism erected over the past quarter century -- could be swept away in a couple of years of whirlwind lawmaking.

But there are dangers for the Dems in their congressional maneuvering that most of them smugly ignore.

The danger is not the one that conservative Republicans claim: They argue that the American public will turn on the Democrats for not loyally supporting the Iraq war. But the popular support for the war as an extension of the U.S. "war on terror" response to the Sept. 11, 2001, atrocities had clearly evaporated by the November 2006 midterm congressional elections.

The danger for the Dems does not come from any challenge by conservative Republicans but from their own angry and impatient grassroots. It is anger at a congressional and national party leadership too many of whom -- like Sens. Clinton and John Edwards and former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, now an independent -- still carry the baggage of voting for the legislation that gave President Bush the sanction to move against Iraq back in 2003.

The danger these regular Democrats face next year will not be in the actual congressional elections that look increasingly likely to be a turkey shoot for them against a flock of vulnerable GOP incumbents. The danger is that populist anti-war and more radical challengers will arise from their own grassroots to challenge long-time comfortable congressmen who cannot demonstrate their own opposition to the Iraq disaster early enough. If the U.S. domestic economy slows significantly over the next 18 months, the forces for increased radicalization within the Democratic Party will just grow stronger.

Continued Republican deadlock and denial over Iraq, and the Democratic leaders' obsession with the minutiae of ineffectual political maneuvers on Capitol Hill, may both therefore feed a reaction that will sweep away all of them.

Source: United Press International

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US Troops Kill Al Qaeda Terrorists In Iraq
Baghdad (AFP) Jun 22, 2007
US helicopters fired missiles at suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen in Iraq on Friday, killing 17 in a widening operation northeast of Baghdad aimed at dislodging them. A top US commander, meanwhile, said the military could reduce troops by early 2008 on the back of an improving Iraqi security force.

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