Rick Klein / The Boston Globe – 2006-02-22 08:24:54
Dems’ New Strategy — “Strategic Redeployment” — Is a Fraud
Bruce K. Gagnon / Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
(February 20, 2006) — The reports are coming in from all over the nation. The Democrats are getting pilloried as they shuck and jive on the war. They have an election coming up in fall of 2006 and they want to take back Congress. They are scrambling to find their footing. The Dems think we can have guns and butter — war and health care. I’ve got news for them — that tune ain’t playing no more.
The Boston Globe reported on February 20 that the Dems have put Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), a former Army officer, in charge of coming up with a consensus Democratic plan for the war. His answer? It’s called “strategic redeployment.” What does that mean? “It’s important to note that it’s not withdrawal — it’s redeployment,” Reed said. “We need to pursue a strategy that is going to accomplish the reasonable objectives, and allow us to have strategic flexibility. Not only is it a message, but it’s a method to improve the security there and around the globe.”
The Dems new plan is to pull some number of US troops out of Iraq into Kuwait and other new bases in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. From the new large bases in Kuwait, the US would increase Air Force bombing missions over Iraq, increase the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) like the Predator, that fly via satellite direction, and can drop bombs and fire missiles. For the Iraqi people, this means more indiscriminate bombing and more innocent people killed.
When things get really out of hand in Iraq, the “strategic redeployment” plan (it’s just the Murtha plan with a new name by the way) will call for an expansion of US Special Forces teams going back into Iraq for quick hits and killings of anyone who dares resist the corrupt puppet government the US has put into place.
The Democrats will sell this to the American public by saying they are pulling the troops out of the war. A few units will be brought home and big ceremonies held so that the public thinks the war is slowing down. The Dems hope that “strategic redeployment” will mean less troops will be killed day to day in Iraq. They hope it will be their ticket to victory in November. But in truth the war will go on.
In fact, the endless war will be expanded with new basing arrangements in Southeast Asia, Africa and Afghanistan. More territory will be occupied and the field of operations against that faceless “terrorism” will be expanded. All this will be done with the Dems’ full encouragement and support. And guess what? The Pentagon will need lots more money to build these new bases and outposts and Congress — both Repubs and Dems — will give them the money.
The peace movement had better not fall for this bait-and-switch. The Dems are running an election game on us. They are feeling our pressure and this is their disingenuous response. Peace activists nationwide must see through this latest shell game and call it for what it is: Strategic deception.
The time has come for the peace movement to unembedded itself from the Democratic Party. As long as peace activists see themselves as “party” people, they will not have the ability to be critical of these kind of cynical moves to co-opt our energies.
I was in Germany right after the US. began the invasion of Afghanistan soon after 9-11. The Green Party in Germany supported that invasion and angered the German peace movement. I saw German peace activists publicly condemn national Green Party leaders for supporting the US war. The peace activists understood where their primary allegiance belonged. To the anti-war movement first, and then to a party. If the party goes astray, the peace movement does not follow. We must do the same here in the US.
Bruce K. Gagnon is the founder and coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011, (207) 729-0517).
Democrats May Unite on Plan to Pull Troops
Rick Klein / The Boston Globe
WASHINGTON (February 20, 2006) — After months of trying unsuccessfully to develop a common message on the war in Iraq, Democratic Party leaders are beginning to coalesce around a broad plan to begin a quick withdrawal of US troops and install them elsewhere in the region, where they could respond to emergencies in Iraq and help fight terrorism in other countries.
The concept, dubbed “strategic redeployment,” is outlined in a slim, nine-page report coauthored by a former Reagan administration assistant Defense secretary, Lawrence J. Korb, in the fall. It sets a goal of a phased troop withdrawal that would take nearly all US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007, although many Democrats disagree on whether troop draw-downs should be tied to a timeline.
Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman, has endorsed Korb’s paper and begun mentioning it in meetings with local Democratic groups. In addition, the study’s concepts have been touted by the senator assigned to bring Democrats together on Iraq – Jack Reed of Rhode Island – and the report has been circulated among all senators by Senator Dianne Feinstein, an influential moderate Democrat from California.
The party remains divided on some points, including how much detail to include in a party-produced document, fearful of giving too much fodder for attacks by Republicans.
But in its broad outlines, many leading Democrats say the Korb plan represents an answer to Republicans’ oft-repeated charge that Democrats aren’t offering a way forward on Iraq – and to do so in a way that is neither defeatist nor blindly loyal to the president.
“We’re not going to cut and run – that’s just Republican propaganda,” Dean said in a speech Feb. 10 in Boston. “But we are going to redeploy our troops so they don’t have targets on their backs, and they’re not breaking down doors and putting themselves in the line of fire all the time. . . . It’s a sensible plan. It’s a thoughtful plan. I think Democrats can coalesce around it.”
Reed, an Army veteran and former paratrooper who has been charged with developing a party strategy on the war, said the plan is attractive to many Democrats because it rejects what he calls the “false dichotomy” suggested by President Bush: that the only options in Iraq are “stay the course” or “cut and run.”
“It’s important to note that it’s not withdrawal – it’s redeployment,” Reed said. “We need to pursue a strategy that is going to accomplish the reasonable objectives, and allow us to have strategic flexibility. Not only is it a message, but it’s a method to improve the security there and around the globe.”
The idea of a phased deployment of troops out of Iraq recognizes that a huge US military presence in the country is straining the armed services as well as feeding the insurgency, Reed said. He added that many military commanders agree that the nation should be moving toward taking American troops out of Iraq, to better equip the military to respond to threats around the world and give the Iraqi government a greater incentive to handle its own security.
Under Korb’s outline, all reservists and National Guard members would come home this year. Most of the other troops would be redeployed to other key areas – Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, and the Horn of Africa — with large, quick-strike forces placed in Kuwait, where they could respond to crises in neighboring Iraq.
Korb said in an interview that setting dates for troop withdrawal would send a message to the Iraqi people that the United States does not intend to set up permanent military bases in Iraq. Starting the redeployment quickly will ensure that the Army does not wear out before the insurgents do, he said.
“The Iraqis want us to go,” said Korb, who has opposed Bush’s decision to invade Iraq from the start. “If you’re out by the end of 2007, we’ll have been there almost five years. That’s not cutting and running.”
But some strategists say the goal of a near-total withdrawal within two years is overly optimistic. US troops that are a plane ride away won’t be an effective deterrent, and Iraqi security forces appear unlikely to be able to handle the violence on their own in the near future, said Michael O’Hanlon, a centrist defense specialist who is a lecturer at Princeton University. “You’re demanding that the political system produces a miracle,” O’Hanlon said. “Any plan that envisions complete American withdrawal in such a period of time is still a prescription for strategic defeat.”
The war has been a source of long-running tension among Democrats. Twenty-nine Democratic senators and 81 House Democrats voted to authorize the president to invade Iraq, and while most are now critical of Bush’s handling of the war, some — notably Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut—- remain staunch supporters.
Although “strategic redeployment” could draw a large portion of Democrats into the same fold, Reed and other Democrats disagree with setting a timeline for troop withdrawal, saying that such decisions should be dictated by commanders on the ground.
Still, Reed noted that the Bush administration has begun modest troop withdrawals. The Senate in November overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for 2006 to be “a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty,” and on Friday, the White House issued a statement reiterating its position: “In 2006, it is anticipated that the Iraqi military will take more of the lead for security throughout Iraq.”
But the president has strongly rejected issuing any time frames, arguing that they would be exploited by insurgents who would strike as soon as troops leave Iraq. Democrats who have suggested time frames for withdrawal have faced harsh attacks from Republicans, who paint them as offering a strategy of defeat.
In November, Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, shook much of Washington with his call for an immediate withdrawal of troops, and his estimate that all troops could be out of Iraq within six months. The generally hawkish Vietnam veteran also called for quick strike forces to remain close to Iraq – similar to the Korb plan – but that was largely overlooked in the barrage from Republicans.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Murtha plan amounted to “surrender to the terrorists.”
Representative Jean Schmidt, Republican of Ohio, delivered a blistering speech on the House floor aimed at Murtha, who spent 37 years in the Marine Corps: “Cowards cut and run, Marines never do,” Schmidt said, in remarks she later withdrew from the Congressional Record.
The attacks on Murtha demonstrated the political peril that could face Democrats who offer plans involving troop withdrawals.
Although Murtha has 99 House cosponsors for his plan, some Democrats remain skittish about offering a plan that they know would be attacked harshly — and, they say, almost certainly misconstrued — by political opponents.
Still, Dean, Reed, and others in the party are trying to develop a united Democratic vision for Iraq, based in part on the calculation that the war will be a big factor in many 2006 congressional campaigns.
Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Lowell Democrat who voted in favor of the war and now supports the Murtha plan, said that while the war remains Bush’s responsibility, Democrats should be able to tell voters what they would do differently.
“There are a lot of different views, but I personally believe that putting forward specifics about how to move forward in Iraq is important to do,” said Meehan, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “I would like to see Democrats coalesce around a strategy like Korb’s strategy.”
This fall, in elections that Democrats hope will bring them back to power in Congress, more than 50 military veterans are running in congressional races as Democrats.
Those candidates are asked about Iraq all the time, and the idea of strategic redeployment is appealing to many of them, said Eric Massa, who is challenging an incumbent Republican in upstate New York and is helping to organize strategy for the veterans who are running.
“You can’t stand in front of people and say, ‘We want your vote,’ and not tell people what it is they’re voting for,” said Massa, a former Navy officer. “We all know that staying the course is not a strategy that’s going to work.”
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