Thanks for “the surge”: But now what ?
In the aftermath of President Bush’s 2004 re-election the Iraq War fell into chaos, resulting in dozens of American troop deaths each month, and anarchy within the Iraqi government preventing political compromises between divided Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish factions. In response, the Democratic leadership within the House of Representatives and United States Senate launched a campaign to discredit the President’s decision to invade Iraq. The Bush Administration lost its foreign policy credibility for not having a clear and competent plan to stabilize the country (post- invasion) effectively enough to facilitate a draw down of Coalition forces without jeopardizing Iraqi democracy or the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. American public opinion quickly turned on Mr. Bush and his neo-conservative policy advisors, and the President’s approval ratings have been at all-time lows ever since. At this point the American people began to question…where will the Bush Administration take Iraq onward from here?
The Democrats became relentless and helped popularize the belief that Bush lied to the nation and dragged America into a war it did not need to fight nor could it win. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama failed to engineer plausible solutions to the Iraq equation (other than precipitous withdrawal), and they seemed to enjoy basking in the fact that they were not the ones who pulled the trigger on the bloody conflict. With “the winds” of public sentiment propelling their political sails, the Democrats dwell-ed on past precedents for months as they drove home the mantra “George Bush got us into this mess not us.” For most of the Democratic primary season Senator Obama (the eventual winner of that contest) wanted the American people to focus on old realities (that he opposed the war from the start) and put solving the Iraq question on the back-burner. But the question still remained…where would an Obama administration take Iraq onward from here?
As hope in Iraq continued to wane John McCain began to tell anyone that would listen that a “surge” in U.S. forces, and a change in military strategy was the only adjustment that could allow for a potential American victory (or at least something resembling a favorable draw) in Iraq. As most observers will now agree Senator McCain was correct in his assessment of the situation on the ground (making Rumsfeld the quick scapegoat), and Iraq has seen widespread security improvements and even minor political progress within the Iraqi Parliament as a result of “the surge.”
As we move forward into the general election Senator McCain seems to have learned how to play the blame game from the Democrats, and his current campaign stump speech redundantly notes the fact that he proposed “the surge” policy when Barack Obama and the Democrats believed it was doomed to failure. McCain refuses to set a date on which American troops will leave Iraq (the w-word withdrawal is banned aboard the Straight Talk Express) and his post “surge” plans fall into a vague grey area that ironically mimics Senator Obama’s current solution of pulling out all combat forces within 14-16 months (McCain however strays away from specific dates) and thus ending the Iraq War. It seems as though now its Senator McCain who is pompously content focusing on archived debates and the almost stale and overemphasized effectiveness of “the surge” to score political points over Senator Obama in preparation for the November election. But the question still remains…where will a McCain administration take Iraq onward from here ?
Hell, can anyone take Iraq onward from here ?