The Washington Post has a scathing editorial on the way in which Harry Reid is playing politics with Iraq:
The decision of Democrats led by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) to deny rather than nourish a bipartisan agreement is, of course, irresponsible. But so was Mr. Reid’s answer when he was asked by the Los Angeles Times how the United States should manage the explosion of violence that the U.S. intelligence community agrees would follow a rapid pullout. “That’s a hypothetical. I’m not going to get into it,” the paper quoted the Democratic leader as saying.
For now Mr. Reid’s cynical politicking and willful blindness to the stakes in Iraq don’t matter so much. The result of his maneuvering was to postpone congressional debate until September, when Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, will report on results of the surge — in other words, just the outcome the White House was hoping for. But then, as now, the country will desperately need a strategy for Iraq that can count on broad bipartisan support, one aimed at carrying the U.S. mission through the end of the Bush administration and beyond. There are serious issues still to resolve, such as whether a drawdown should begin this fall or next year, how closely it should be tied to Iraqi progress, how fast it can proceed and how the remaining forces should be deployed.
The only way the actions of the Democrats make sense is to understand that it all comes down to the most shameless brand of politics. Harry Reid certainly doesn’t care about Iraq — his own lack of care or understanding about what happens to the Iraqi people in the absence of US forces is demonstrable proof. There’s no room for doubt that a US withdrawal would lead to massive violence in Iraq — there’s no guarantee that the Iraqi military can keep the peace at this point, and the Interior Ministry forces remain far too closely tied with the sectarian militias. Moreover, the Iranians have every interest in either keeping Iraq divided and impotent or as a Shi’ite dominated client state. Al-Qaeda is being pushed out of al-Anbar, but without the support of US troops, al-Qaeda could simply slaughter the local Sunnis into submission. In the largely successful Kurdish north, Turkey is already amassing troops on the border — without the US to moderate, it’s quite possible that they would choose to invade to end the potential of the Iraqi Kurds supporting Kurdish terrorist groups on Turkish soil.
However, what the MoveOn.org crowd doesn’t understand is that Harry Reid is playing them for chumps. Reid knows quite well that he could end the war right now — all he has to do is defund the war. That’s exactly how the Founders intended Congress to balance the President’s powers as Commander in Chief. Of course, that would mean that the Democrats would be responsible for leaving our troops in harm’s way — and taking responsibility for anything is not the style of this Congress.
So, Harry Reid is kissing up to the MoveOn.org white flag crowd, but not enough to actually do something about the war. As long as he can keep the Iraq issue alive, it’s to his benefit to drag things out. The Democrats don’t want to end the war — they want to talk about ending the war. They don’t want to do anything that causes them to take responsibility for what happens once the US withdraws — which is why they’re hoping that the Republicans will cave and they can make this the biggest bipartisan mistake in United States history rather than the failure they forced upon the country.
This political acrimony is absolutely unnecessary — there’s a consensus that the American military needs to draw down in the near future and allow the Iraqis to transition into protecting their own country while we concentrate on training Iraqi units and fighting al-Qaeda. However, political comity isn’t what Reid wants — it’s the anger of the unhinged left that sustains the Democratic Party, and he’ll fan the flames as long as he can.
History will view Senator Reid and Representative Pelosi as the craven opportunists that they are — they had a chance to act as statesmen, but chose the path of partisanship instead. Leading Democrats had been supporting the surge a few months before preemptively calling it failure. A competent political party would have taken the fact that President Bush had fired Rumsfeld, changed course in Iraq, and embraced the strategy of adding additional troops and taken that as a major victory — but the Democratic Party has been hijacked by a group of extremists who wish for nothing less than an abject American surrender in Iraq.
Reid and Pelosi rightly deserve the blame for pursuing the path of partisanship rather than acting as responsible statesmen. The price of their political considerations could come at a nightmarish cost — thousands upon thousands of Iraqi dead, a US military who has once again been let down by craven politicians, and a world made unnecessarily dangerous because we did not have a political class with the will to see things through. Everyone will suffer — including the Democrats themselves who will once again be considered the party of weakness on national security for decades to come.