Photo by Palomino
The senior Senator from Virginia held a press conference earlier today to talk about his recent 2 day trip to Iraq with fellow Armed Services Committee member, Carl Levin. He made news by calling for a token withdrawal of troops by Christmas of this year, a stance that few observers of foreign policy have taken seriously. What some people might generously call nuance in Senator Warner's position, others might call talking out of both sides of your mouth.
Whle saying he didn't support the Levin measure requiring a date certain withdrawal of U.S. forces, he also said,
I think no clearer form of that than if the President were to announce on the 15th, that in consultation with our senior military commanders, he's decided to initiate the first step in a withdrawal of our forces. I say to the President respectfully, pick whatever number you wish. You do not want to lose the momentum, but certainly in the 160,000 plus, 5,000 could begin to redeploy and be home to their families and loved ones by no later than Christmas of this year.
But he also added this.
Let the president establish the timetable for withdrawal, not the Congress.
So which is it? He wants the President to pick a number, any number, and start drawing down by Christmas. While I appreciate the sentiment, we're in a war, not a lottery. Who does Senator Warner think he is playing games with troop rotation to try and make a point to the Iraqi government? Does he think the Iraqi politicians won't see this as the hollow stunt that it is? How does the Senator think this will play with the troops? How can you cherry pick which 5,000 get to come home for no other reason than to try and make a political statement? What's that going to do for the morale of the rest that didn't get chosen? It's a silly idea by a Senator whose time in the sun has passed. More Warner:
We simply cannot as a nation stand and continue to put our troops at continuous risk of loss of life and limb without beginning to take some decisive action.
Decisive action like telling the President to pick a number, any number of troops to begin withdrawing? What kind of decisiveness is that? At what point does General Petraeus, the guy trying to carry out the plan in Iraq, have anything to say about a Senator trying to convince the President to make his job a wee bit harder by beginning to squeeze him of troops? The drawdown of troops is going to happen. Everyone knows it. Everyone has said it's coming. But you're being foolish if you casually throw a date out there that has nothing to do with the careful evaluation of conditions on the ground in Iraq. Several years ago, Senator Warner might have known better, too. But now, his comments are showing he's not serious anymore to the right, and he's being touted by the left as now being the latest GOP defection to President Bush. He got nothing more accomplished with his statements today than giving the left more ammo to continue their march towards defeatism.
Paging Tony Snow, the United States Senate is calling. Virginia needs you. Our troops need you. America needs you.