That’s gotta hurt.
There is a fig leaf. The White House apparently has agreed to a face-saving non-binding measure that expresses the sincere desire that the Iraqi government make progress. Only reasonable. Progress is good. Certainly, for this Congress to have insisted that anyone stick to a deadline for making substantive progress on anything would have been a little too precious, and Bush has spared them that humiliation. Never mind that business about legislators not taking vacations when there is pressing business at hand.
Despite their utter, unconditional capitulation, the Democrats insist this fight is not over. They live to surrender another day.
What is their strategy?
The plan was revealed recently by a blabbermouth rep who promptly stuck her foot in it. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) a founding member of the House Out of Iraq Caucus, said she expects there will be even more pressure to withdraw troops in two months if events in Iraq continue on their current violent course.”In two months it might be really clear how bad it is,” Woolsey said.
As the Democrats now fall back, their assault utterly routed, it becomes clearer what their strategy will be. It will be a variation on a Russian scorched-earth strategy. The Democrats now desperately need George Bush’s surge and the efforts of American soldiers on the ground to fail in the long Iraqi summer. Only they don’t intend to personally torch anything. The Democrats expect others to do their dirty work for them.
Enter the Democrats’ strongest ally in the region: Iran. Next week, the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq will be sitting down to discuss the stability and security of Iraq.
We don’t know what they will say to each other, what subtle message will be conveyed under the diplomatic niceties. Intelligence leaks have signalled with incredibly poor timing that the United States does not intend to take forceful action against Iran. This comes with the news that Iran has plans of its own. Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which recently laid out evidence of Iranian meddling in Basra, weighs in this week with a report that U.S. officials believe Iran is coordinating with al-Qaeda in Iraq, other Sunni insurgent groups, and Shiite militias for a big summer offensive. Not terribly hard to believe, as it would only be an escalation of what Iran has been suspected of doing for some time. Playing both sides against the middle.
In short, Iran’s goal this summer is to shed enough blood and create enough chaos in Iraq to undermine any confidence in the surge and tip the balance in a wavering Congress.
Iran wants a Tet. So do the Democrats.
They both need it to accomplish their shared goal — the United States out of Iraq, in the most chaotic and shameful way possible.
Tet, the all-out communist offensive of February 1968, is remembered as a military failure for the North Vietnamese that was ironically their greatest political victory. An Iranian-backed campaign this summer could be the same for both Iran and America’s surrender camp. A bloody excuse to pack it in and abandon Iraq to its fate.
Look for Tet’s bloody reprise this summer. American and Iraqi soldiers, as well as the Iraqi people, could pay a terrible price as it plays out. The American people and their leaders will be, indirectly, from the safety of home, tested in their resolve.
There is a parallel between Vietnam and Iraq, that another war is in danger of being politically lost at home, but history does not have to repeat itself.
Iran, just like the Democrats in Congress, will back down and skulk away if directly and forcefully challenged. The credible threat or the actual reduction of Iran’s military capacity to cause trouble in Iraq, and a similarly credible threat of increased economic pressure on Iran, up to and including a blockade, could have a beneficial effect on Iran’s behavior. Now could be the time for diplomacy, though not necessarily in the way it was envisioned by the Iraq Study Group and Democrats in Congress. Now could be the time to test the willingness of France’s new tougher, pro-American government, Britain’s incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other allies, as well as the sincerity of Arab nations that want to avoid open warfare and Iranian domination.
But with or without their help, it falls to the Bush administration in this critical time to refuse to seize defeat from the jaws of the Democrats’ surrender.
Jules Crittenden is an editor and columnist for the Boston Herald.
Crittenden’s web page is at Forward Movement.