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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Responsible Redeployment Now

[Disclaimer: This post was first published on Coleen Rowley's campaign weblog.]

In a June 28, 2004 interview with the Star Tribune writer Kevin Diaz, John Kline said:

Actually, I rate the chances pretty high of avoiding a civil war. It's my understanding . . . that there really is a sense in Iraq of being Iraqi. Yes, there are the distinctions that you outlined. You would think the Kurds would be the most problematic, because they're geographically isolated largely in the north, and there's been an effort on their part for generations to have an independent Kurdistan. Having said that, though, they seem to be working together well now . . .

This past Thursday, Gen. John Abizaid, our top General in the Middle East, and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Star Tribune, August 4, 2006):

"I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war," said Gen. John Abizaid, chief of Central Command and the top general in the Middle East.

Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed with the appraisal. "I believe that we do have the possibility of that devolving to a civil war, but that does not have to be a fact," he said.

These generals are responsible for guiding our troops in Iraq. But many more detached observers believe that full-blown civil war has already broken out in Iraq. And at least two of those observers make compelling arguments for a responsible redeployment of our troops.

Tom Friedman, long-time Middle East commentator for the New York Times, like John Kline, supported Bush's decision to invade and occupy Iraq. And for the past 3.5 years, he's remained cautiously optimistic about the outcome. Yesterday however, he dropped his optimism (subscription required):

It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war.

When our top commander in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid, tells a Senate Committee, as he did yesterday, that "the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I’ve seen it," it means that three years of efforts to democratize Iraq are not working. That means "staying the course" is pointless, and it’s time to start thinking about Plan B — how we might disengage with the least damage possible...

...Yes, the best way to contain Iran would have been to produce a real Shiite-led democracy in Iraq, exposing the phony one in Tehran. But second best is leaving Iraq. Because the worst option — the one Iran loves — is for us to stay in Iraq, bleeding, and in easy range to be hit by Iran if we strike its nukes.

Former U.S. Ambassador Peter Galbraith notes that, contrary to Kline's 2004 observation that the factions in Iraq are "working together well now," the Kurds have isolated themselves from the sectarian fighting between the Shi'ites and Sunnis. He further points out that the more immediate threat of extending the occupation of Iraq comes not from Iran, but from al-Qaeda:

Seeing as we cannot maintain the peace in Iraq, we have but one overriding interest there today — to keep Al Qaeda from creating a base from which it can plot attacks on the United States. Thus we need to have troops nearby prepared to re-engage in case the Sunni Arabs prove unable to provide for their own security against the foreign jihadists.

The situation in Iraq is bad and getting worse, and there are no easy answers. Thanks to the adminstration's insistence on fixing the facts around a predetermined course of invasion, their refusal to send adequate troop strength, and their failure to secure the postwar peace, there is no good solution to the problem of Iraq.

There will be no good solutions as long as politicians like John Kline stubbornly insist on staying this misguided and deadly course.

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