The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012

August 18, 2005

Feingold fires one across the bow

Russ Feingold has now advocated a timetable for leaving Iraq:

U.S. Senator Russ Feingold today, at a local Listening Session in Marquette, Wisconsin, proposed a target timeframe for the completion of the military mission in Iraq and suggested December 31, 2006 as the target date for the completion of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

In June, Feingold introduced a resolution calling for the President to clarify the military mission in Iraq, lay out a plan and timeframe for accomplishing that mission, and publicly articulate a plan for subsequent troop withdrawal. Because of the Administration’s recent flurry of conflicting signals about the duration of U.S. troop deployments, Feingold said he feels obligated to help jump start that process by proposing a specific goal for bringing U.S. forces home from Iraq.

One should note, that by his own admission, he is not proposing a hard deadline, despite what dadahead calls it.

The left has jumped on the bandwagon, with varying amounts of enthusiasm, i.e. kazablog, Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum, and Matt Yglesias. All of these folks are pushing the idea of a “timetable” specifically. And a target date, as Feingold is proposing, is a good idea, as part of a wider ‘exit strategy’.

Focusing on a date, however, is the wrong way to look at this. What we need to ask of Bush is that he set up a roadmap. We need to ask Bush what goals need to be accomplished, be it Iraqi troop strength and police forces, infrastructure goals, progress on the Constitutional front, in order for us to bring our troops home. We need to have this debate, but we need to debate the goals before the timeline. Once we determine the roadmap, we need to look at where we are making progress and where we are stagnant, and how we can accelerate that progress. The target date we arrive at is a cumulative estimate, based upon that plan, of where we should be.

I don’t doubt that this sort of planning is taking place as we speak. But I wonder why we get such silence from Washington. The American people are slowly losing patience for this war, and I think one of the main reasons is that they only hear one side of the story. We on the right complain constantly about how the mainstream media only reports the negative side of the war. But are Bush and the pentagon even trying to promote the other side? The only reliable place for the opposing point of view that I can find is the blogosphere, even right-wing talk radio is more often congratulatory flag-waving than reporting the positive developments.

For some reason, Bush seems to prefer fighting political battles on the defensive. He could have come out 6 months ago and provided a plan, provided some waypoints on the roadmap to getting us out of Iraq, and set the target date at the end of 2007, and he would have floored everybody. Then, in the mapping of our progress along that timeline, he could point out all the triumphs and great things he accomplished along the way. Fight by the insurgents that jeopardize that timeline can be viewed much more easily, then, as fighting against a positive goal rather than fighting occupying forces. Instead, we have the left firing volleys of “there is no plan” and the right fighting a losing battle trying to hold their ground.

The Libertarian Party came out with it’s Iraq Exit Strategy. I have differences with a lot of the particulars in the plan (i.e. calling for troop withdrawal ahead of progress, instead of the other way around), but it’s a start. If Bush would explain what needs to be done and how he intends to accomplish it, 90% of his PR work is done. Then, giving a target date along with a quick explanation of why and how it will take until that time to complete the mission will turn the tide. Instead of attacking the US as “imperialists”, the opponents of the war will have to attack the merits or particulars of the plan. It makes it much easier then to portray them simply as contrarians and partisans. Troop morale will go up, public opinion will improve, and it will ultimately make our job easier in Iraq. Why hasn’t this been done?

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 4:12 pm || Permalink || Comments (7) || Trackback URL || Categories: Uncategorized


  1. I’m getting a little worried, I find myself in agreement with you once more. I better have Lucy get me a doctor’s appointment.

    Comment by TF Stern — August 18, 2005 @ 5:03 pm
  2. Wow. If we agree on something, one of us must be wrong…

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — August 18, 2005 @ 8:08 pm
  3. I could be wrong (it’s not unlikely), but what Bush & Co. have already said sounds fairly reasonable to me, which is: when the Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down.

    The problem with any arbitrary ‘deadline’—goal oriented or not—is that this particular enemy is thinking long-term and is not concerned with political expediency. Their ends are based upon irrational religious dogma and they will utilize ‘any means necessary’. In other words, I think that ‘timetables’ would work in their favor, not ours.

    Comment by Robert — August 18, 2005 @ 9:11 pm
  4. Brad:

    Your chronology on Feingold is esp. useful, in that it illustrates how he has given the admin. two months to articulate its vision/roadmap/benchmarks, whatever you want to call them. And yet, still the silence…

    Might it be that things are going SO badly in Iraq that Bush & co. know by any measure we cannot declare victory and get out in the next 18 months? They are trying to use the constitution and training of Iraqi forces as milestones, but everyone acknowledges neither is going as hoped (not even close).

    The tide has turned. Our troops didn’t lose in Iraq, but Bush & co. (specifically Rumsfeld and the Defense dept. – see today’s leaked memo in WaPo about the battles between church/Rumsfeld and State/Powell) have.

    If major withdrawal hasn’t happened by Nov. ‘06, look for the Rs to lose their majority in both Houses. You heard it here first. The American people are starting to get v. p*sssed off…

    Comment by activist kaza — August 19, 2005 @ 1:08 am
  5. I’d personally like to see victory conditions rather than a timetable. Here’s why. With a timetable, all the terrorists and such in Iraq know they just have to sit and wait for x-day to come and there will by y-fewer troops to deal with. Victory conditions, which need to be publicly articulated so that we the people can judge where things are, are the better way to go.

    Comment by Quincy — August 19, 2005 @ 1:15 am
  6. Nice post here. The problem I have with Bush’s position is that when he set a timetable for the elections earlier in the year he insisted that it would work. He refused to push back the time for the election and constantly said that NOT having a timetable would only help the terrorist. And you know what? He was pretty much right. The election happened, it was a good day for the people there, so I’m not understanding why all of the sudden he saying that timetables are a terrible thing. If we set a date at a reasonable time, say two years from now, that would give the Iraqis time to 1. Understand we are serious about leaving and 2. prepare. What do you think?

    Comment by matt — August 19, 2005 @ 8:01 am
  7. Robert/Quincy,
    Sounds like we’re in agreement on this. I think we need to hear more of the plan, but I consider the goals much more important than the timetable. Bush has given us neither, with the exception of platitudes like “We’ll get out when we’re done”. Yeah. We got that.

    I don’t think our view of how things are going is quite the same. All the stories I hear outside of the mainstream media paint a picture of progress. I’m a little concerned about where that constitution is going, but even with some of those flaws it will be far and away better than Saddam, and probably ahead of many of the moderate regimes. The Iraqis are starting to make a lot of progress on their own, and the tide is turning in their own country about hatred for the terrorists. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as you do.
    That being said, I do think Bush is so scared of being burned (i.e. he sets a “target date”, and the left howls and moans if one soldier is on the ground after that “deadline”) on this one, and doesn’t want to commit to something that might hurt him politically. I think that reluctance is hurting our position over there.

    As I said above, I think the big problem is that any “timetable” Bush comes up with will suddenly become a “deadline” to the Left, the media, and the terrorists, and he’s reluctant to give them that firepower. I am in favor of a timetable, based upon the plans and knowledge we have of the situation today. But I am not in favor of a deadline, for the reasons Quincy and Robert bring up. As I’ve said, I’d like to see a plan for the withdrawal, with intermediate steps that need to be made along that plan. If those steps are met, we will be out by “X” date, but if not, we will stay until all those steps are completed.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — August 19, 2005 @ 8:48 am

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