And so it begins.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 – Democratic leaders in the Senate vowed on Sunday to use their new Congressional majority to press for troop reductions in Iraq within a matter of months, stepping up pressure on the administration just as President Bush is to be interviewed by a bipartisan panel examining future strategy for the war.

The Democrats – the incoming majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada; the incoming Armed Services Committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan; and the incoming Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware – said a phased redeployment of troops would be their top priority when the new Congress convenes in January, even before an investigation of the conduct of the war.

“We need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months,” Mr. Levin said in an appearance on the ABC News program “This Week.” In a telephone interview later, Mr. Levin added, “The point of this is to signal to the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that they are going to have to solve their own problems.”

This is a clear violation of truth in labelling. Remember, one year ago, the Democrats voted overwhelmingly against this very maneuver. Their main voice in this, John Murtha, called for it and wrote his own resolution on the matter. The Republicans didn’t bring Murtha’s up for a vote, but did bring up a virtually identical one that the Dems were completely against. See here for a comparison. They wouldn’t put their votes where their mouths were, and apparently didn’t want to be considered the Cut and Run Party. But now that they have control of the legislature, and think they have a mandate for their position, they’re going full steam ahead.

This is most likely a huge misreading of the recent election results. The NY Times wrote an article on one of their polls, which, unsurprisingly, tilts left (e.g. they ask which party is more likely to bring the troops home, but doesn’t ask which party is more likely to achieve victory). What isn’t covered but requires you to click on a sidebar link is one of the questions about strategy. Only 27% want to remove all troops from Iraq. Those who want to continue the current strategy (8%) plus those who want a change in strategy (61%) compromise a vast majority (69%) that want, not this retreat the Democrats will propose, but a course that will lead to something that the poll respondents consider victory.

Yes, everyone’s got their own idea of what this should be (mine is an Iraqi democracy that can defend itself, thought you really can’t call the removal of Hussein’s regime and the killing and capturing of many top al Qaeda honchos a complete “defeat”). But the point is that the Democrats are looking at a general dissatisfaction with the prosecution of the war and mistaking it for dissatisfaction with simply being in the war.

This is the Vietnam blunder; bailing out of an unpopular war before the job’s done, and allowing the region to descend into chaos for a generation. Until Iraq is ready to stand on its own, someone else will have to hold them up. Either it’ll be us, or it’ll be one of the many other factions eager to toast the fledgling democracy. The Democrats are either refusing to remember history, or are playing politics with the lives of the Iraqis, whom they claim concern over when they hear civilian casualty figures. And yet they wish to set us on a course that will condemn far more to death in a struggle for power and, based on the winner, that struggle’s aftermath.

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Filed under: DemocratsForeign PolicyGovernmentIraqPoliticsWar

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