Saturday, September 15, 2007

Webb's way out

By Libby

Surfing the spin coming from the White House on Iraq this week, I feel like popping Dramamine, but I see Jim Webb has thrown a life preserver into this sea of madness. This is certainly not the life boat we need to bail us out of our disastrous Iraq policy but it's surely better than nothing and it at least has the benefit of taking some stress off our troops.
Now that President Bush and Gen. David H. Petraeus have charted their course for the Iraq war, Democrats in the Senate say one of their proposals aimed at shifting the president’s strategy is finally close to winning enough Republican support for a real chance at being approved. It would require that troops spend as much time at home as on their most recent tours overseas before being redeployed.

The proposal, by Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, has strong support from top Democrats, who say that the practical effect would be to add time between deployments and force General Petraeus to withdraw troops on a substantially swifter timeline than the one he laid out before Congress this week, and that it would protect troops from serving protracted and debilitating deployments.

Needless to say, the White House is not thrilled by the proposal.
Mr. Gates called the proposal “well-intentioned,” but said it might require extending tours of units already in Iraq, calling up additional National Guard and Reserve troops, and making other adjustments that “would further stress the force and reduce its combat effectiveness.”

Exactly the point. It would ruin the administration's plan to avoid such a politically unpalatable move and force it to admit it has overstretched the military. Clearly the current plan calls for exploiting the current troops to the max and creating a big enough mess in the Middle East to compel the incoming administration to make that move instead.

Mark Kleiman worked out the numbers and says the measure doesn't even need 60 votes, that a simple majority of 51 would force it through. Looks to me like a win-win for the Dems. They put the president in the position of having to veto a humane deployment schedule and force him, and whoever stands with him against the best interests of the troops, to own the failed escalation strategy. So what are the Democrats waiting for?

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