Debra Saunders has a piece up over at Real Clear Politics that points out just how wrong an imposed timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq is. Because there will be repercussions in the short term as well as in the long term. It is vital that people understand that.
When Americans supported sending forces to Iraq, Feinstein voted in favor of the resolution authorizing force in Iraq. Now, polls show that Americans have soured on the war — certainly Californians oppose it — and Feinstein, who is running for re-election, was happy to point out that she regretted that vote.
So she wants a timetable. As the senator put it, "I think it may even be productive positively to say, 'Look we're going to aim to have all our people out by the end of '07.'" Feinstein added that all the polls show that Iraqis want U.S. troops to leave.
I am in favor of withdrawing according to any timetable approved by democratically elected Iraqi lawmakers. But unlike Feinstein, I think it makes more sense to let Iraqi leaders ask for U.S. troops to leave when they feel secure enough to do so — rather than rely on polls. Right now, Iraqi leaders want U.S. boots on the ground.
Saunders discusses the problems of letting polls dictate strategy. Simply put, polls can be misleading, as can the willful mis-reporting of what the polls are saying.
The PIPA poll asked, "Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the U.S.-Britain invasion, do you personally think ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?" The answer for 61 percent: Yes, it was worth it.
If you think that a superficial look at polls should dictate foreign policy, consider this. The PIPA poll found that 47 percent of Iraqis think their country is headed in the right direction. Compare that to a recent poll that found that 44 percent of Californians say the state is headed in the right direction.
News on the Iraq war is bound to be bad when the media fail to report news that does not reinforce the media view of this war as unwinnable. It took less than two weeks after the war in Iraq began for The Chronicle to run the first opinion piece that called the war a "quagmire."
The erosion of support for the war is at least partly attributable to the willful attacks on the war and the administration by politicians and the media. They have wanted a quagmire from day one. But if they succeed this time, there are dominoes that will fall, just as there were dominoes that fell after the pullout from Vietnam.
Well, U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan longer than in Iraq. Still, Feinstein said that she supports keeping troops in Afghanistan because "the Afghanis want the NATO forces there. Iraqis want us out. We have become an occupying force."
How long do you think that support will last if jihadis around the world decide to camp out in Afghanistan? How long will it take before polls show American support for U.S. troops in Afghanistan falling? How long then will it be before Feinstein wants an Afghanistan timetable?
I fear one of the dominoes that will fall this time might be America itself.