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With just a few hours left before George Bush delivers his speech on the shift in Iraq war policy, politicians have already queued up to declare themselves in support or opposition to the plan. Unsurprisingly, most Democrats oppose it, but a few Republicans have joined them. Senator Sam Brownback, who has made it clear that he wants to run for the 2008 nomination as a staunch conservative, made the biggest splash among GOP naysayers:
Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback came out against President Bush's expected call tonight for a surge of 22,000 more troops into Iraq.
"I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer," Brownback said while traveling in Iraq. "Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution."
Brownback had previously supported a short-term surge of troops if it could help achieve long-term political stability, which the Bush Administration has said it hopes a troop surge will help achieve.
But Brownback rejected that argument after meeting this week with several Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and U.S. military commanders.
"I came away from these meetings convinced that the United States should not increase its involvement until Sunnis and Shi'a are more willing to cooperate with each other instead of shooting at each other," Brownback said.
In fact, that support came less than four weeks ago, when Brownback endorsed the so-called "surge" after the release of the ISG report:
The military should get additional, temporary troops in Baghdad if it asks for them, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback said Friday.
But the potential presidential candidate also said America’s military posture in the country has to be “substantially different” before the 2008 election.
“We can’t be in the middle of a sectarian battle,” he said. “That’s not our role. … We have to get Iraq to some sort of political equilibrium.”
It hardly enhances Brownback's reputation to flip-flop this quickly. Other bloggers have pointed out where Democrats shifted their objections to the war strategy from a lack of troops to a demand for fewer of them, but one can also show that those differing statements came rather far apart in time. The situation may have changed on the ground since then, or at least that argument can be made.
However, Brownback cannot possibly expect us to believe that to be the reason for his change of heart. Either he spoke out in favor of an escalation without studying the problem, or he abandoned it for political reasons. There really isn't a third choice, and neither option shows him as a serious candidate for Commander in Chief. Had he been President, he would have sent thousands of troops to Iraq on December 16th and recalled them on January 10th -- not exactly a confidence builder.
I favor an increase in personnel if they have a specific mission to dismantle the sectarian militias and the rules of engagement to do it effectively. If they lack either, then I would oppose a surge or escalation, whichever term anyone wants to apply. What I oppose more than anything else is poll-driven war strategy -- which is what the Democrats have offered all along, and Brownback appears to endorse as well. (via CQ readers and Hugh Hewitt)Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Father of Slain Massachusetts Soldier Backs Kennedy Criticism of Iraq War from The Democratic Daily
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