After watching their agenda get drop-kicked all throughout 2007 and with the surge proving much more successful than they had feared, anti-war groups have restrategized for 2008. Their new approach? They’ll take the political equivalent of “redeployment over the event horizon”:
After a series of legislative defeats in 2007 that saw the year end with more U.S. troops in Iraq than when it began, a coalition of anti-war groups is backing away from its multimillion-dollar drive to cut funding for the war and force Congress to pass timelines for bringing U.S. troops home.
In recognition of hard political reality, the groups instead will lower their sights and push for legislation to prevent President Bush from entering into a long-term agreement with the Iraqi government that could keep significant numbers of troops in Iraq for years to come.
The groups believe this switch in strategy can draw contrasts with Republicans that will help Democrats gain ground in November and bring the votes to pass more dramatic measures. But it is a long way from the early months of 2007, when Democrats were freshly in power and momentum for a dramatic shift in Iraq policy seemed overpowering.
Unfortunately, this new agenda has even less coherence than their prior position. One can at least understand the motivation of people to end all war in demanding a withdrawal from Iraq. It’s short-sighted and would have led to a massive paroxysm of violence and killed hundreds of thousands in short order, if not millions, but it’s the recognizable demand of pacifists in all ages and places.
Demanding an end to a military alliance with a stable Iraq makes much less sense. Why wouldn’t we want such a relationship with a democratic, representative government in the Middle East? It would not put American troops in combat situations, but instead help bolster the central Iraqi government to keep combat situations from arising. It would also provide stability and an example for other nations in the region to show that Arabs and Muslims can successfully operate a self-elected government, rather than the mullahcracies and kleptocracies surrounding it.
Since we’ve made the toughest part of the investment in the region, why not act to keep it viable?
The effort to undermine the alliance between Iraq and the US points to a much different agenda than pacifism or a “humble” foreign policy. It reveals the underlying hostility towards American influence in global politics, and especially an underlying partisan motivation against the Bush administration and the possibility of long-term success in Iraq as part of its legacy. It’s a purely electoral calculation, trying to throw a monkey wrench in a critical area of foreign policy just to get more Democrats elected in November — as its advocates admit.
They can expect the same level of success they saw in 2007 while trying to sabotage the war effort. Harry Reid and John Murtha’s declarations of defeat resonate ever stronger as Iraq progresses both militarily and politically. Voters will remember that in November as they envision what would have happened in Iraq if Democrats had had control of military policy in 2007.