Senator Joseph Biden in today’s Washington Post:
A majority of Sunni Arabs are likely to vote against the constitution, but not the two-thirds needed to defeat it. That will further embitter them.
The consequences for U.S. interests could be devastating. Sectarian violence might escalate into a full-blown civil war, drawing in Syria, Iran and Turkey and turning Iraq into a new Lebanon. Even worse, Iraqi Sunnis could forge stronger alliances with foreign jihadists, turning a swath of Iraq into a pre-Sept. 11 Afghanistan for a new generation of terrorists.
Well, I’m not sure what sort of “full-blown civil war” he’s talking about. A lot of people keep going on about a civil war.
Look folks, the civil war is already being fought. What’s going to become more blown? Are neighboring countries going to start supporting insurgents and terrorists in Iraq? Too late. That’s been happening for two years. Unless Syria, Iran, and Turkey send in their armies, the blown-ness of this war isn’t going to change very much. And that simply won’t happen if American troops are in Iraq. Iraq will not be turned into a “pre-Sept. 11 Afghanistan”, not as long as a government opposed to such developments has professional forces willing to keep the heat on the terrorists.
Pre-Sept. 11 Afghanistan was what it was because the terrorist camps and networks were not only tolerated by the Afghan government (Remember them? The Taliban?), they were blessed by the Afghan government. The government openly supported them. The government was allied with them. They were virtually an official arm of the government. Or was it the other way around?
Anyway, Senator Biden tells us how the minority in Iraq will not buy into the government and will rebel against it. He doesn’t seem to understand that this absolutely precludes anything approaching the situation in pre-Sept. 11 Afghanistan. 80% of Iraq is opposed to becoming pre-Sept. 11 Afghanistan, and they’ve got the army to back up their opinion. And major help from outside. Afghanistan had none of this. He’s a United States Senator and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. How is it that he cannot understand that?
Of course, I’m not saying that everything is peaches and cream in Iraq, either. I’m worried about the constitutional referendum. But putting it off until December, which is what the Senator recommends, won’t change anything. He says that many Shiitie and Kurds will welcome increased Sunni representation. Sure, Senator. Sure they will. They’ll be very happy to give up some seats to Sunnis.
He’s suggesting that the government of Iraq delay its operations and change its foundations to please the 20% of the country that’s blowing things up. That’s a gross oversimplification, but I think it captures the essence of what we’re talking about here. I’m not saying it isn’t going to happen, but I’m saying it’s a terrible thing and if it does, indeed, happen, we and the Iraqi people will have suffered a massive defeat.
Biden’s final paragraph, with Murdoc’s commentary:
Successfully involving moderate Sunnis,
Elections do that. That’s the point of it all.
sharing the burden with the key international players,
This sort of phrase always seems to mean those “international players” that actively oppose what we’re doing. I fail to see how worrying about that helps anyone.
getting support from the region,
That’s a laugher, Senator. You’re such a kidder. Yep. We’ll just re-write this old constitution a bit so that Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are all on-board with it. We’ll get right on that.
setting concrete goals with timelines
Not really much point arguing once again why troop-withdrawal deadlines are a bad idea, which is what this means.
and insisting on regular accountability from the administration
Ah, that’s the heart of it. Not the situation on the ground. Not the larger strategy. Making the Bush administration “accountable”.
would bring our troops home sooner and safer.
For a minute, I though maybe he forgot that we even had troops in Iraq, with all his talk about Syria and Iran helping the Sunnis wage a civil war and the terrorists turning Iraq into pre-Sept. 11 Afghanistan. I’m glad he remembers they’re there.
It’s also the best way to leave Iraq with our most fundamental security interests intact.
And that, folks, summarizes the key strategy for much of the Left: We need to figure out how to retreat without looking too bad.
UPDATE: It occurs to me that perhpas Senator Biden wasn’t referring to troop-withdrawal deadlines (yeah, I know I’m stretching things a bit, here) but maybe instead he meant “concrete goals with timelines” along the lines of, say, “vote on a permanent constitution by the middle of October”, or something.
You know, the sort of “concrete goal with timeline” he’s suggesting we put off until December.
UPDATE 2: Glorfindel of Gondolin:
Regardless of whether Biden’s concrete proposals make sense or not, at least he’s going beyond simple Bush-bashing by offering some substantive alternatives to Bush’s simple-minded “stay the course.”
In my humble opinion, it’s rather important whether proposals make sense or not. Something different just for the sake of being something different isn’t exactly what we’re looking for here. But maybe that’s just me.
I left a comment asking for a link to Biden’s “substantive alternatives”, as all I’ve seen so far is this column. I’m looking forward to reviewing these alternatives.