Casey Reaffirms Troop Redeployment Plan For 2007. Will Cheney Claim Plan Shows Terrorists Are Breaking Will Of American People?
Gen. George Casey, our top man in Iraq, reaffirmed yesterday that he believes Iraqi security forces are progressing to the point where they can take on the bulk of the security responsibility, perhaps in the next 12 to 18 months.
"I don't have a date, but I can see over the next 12 to 18 months, the Iraqi security forces progressing to a point where they can take on the security responsibilities for the country, with very little coalition support," Casey said.
Casey's comments -- a follow-up to a June briefing of the same plan -- pays tribute to President Bush's oft-repeated statement that as Iraqis "stand up," the U.S.-led coalition will stand down. Casey's suggestion that if things progress, the Iraqis will need "very little coalition support," would certainly suggest that if things go as expected, the U.S.-led coalition can in fact being troop redeployment in 12-18 months.
So my question is: how quickly will Vice President Cheney suggest that Casey's comments "embolden" Al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency?
You'll recall that Cheney, folloiwing Ned Lamont's victory over Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's Democratic Senate primary, said
CHENEY: The thing that's partly disturbing about [Lieberman's loss] is the fact that our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the Al Qaeda types -- they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.
Lamont favors beginning troop redeployment in 2007, a position held not only by most Democrats, but by a majority of Americans.
When can that troop redeployment begin? As the Iraqis show that they can accept additional responsibility, most notably to control the turf battles in Baghdad and other cities between Sunnis and Shiites.
This is the latest chapter in a hypocritical game of semantics. When Democrats suggest that the U.S.-led coalition should begin troop redeployment in 2007, Republicans label it "cut and run." In fact, Senate Republicans continued to blast legislation from Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) even after they knew about Casey's similar gameplan.
But what happens when a Republican like Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut suggests setting a timetable for troop redeployment? The Republican leadership goes out of its way to denounce anyone -- namely Democrats -- who suggest that Shays is in agreement with the Democrats or the majority of Americans.
Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican Naitonal Committee, played the semantics game yesterday with guest host Norah O'Donnell on MSNBC's Hardball.
MEHLMAN: Well, I saw Chris — I saw him interviewed on this show, Chris Shays, and he, in fact, said something very different than what the Democrats say. What he has said is we need to make sure that there are benchmarks established for the Iraqi people to stand up.
In other words, Shays wants to have a timetable for Iraqi troops to stand up, so the U.S.-led coaltion can stand down.
Listen to conservative talk radio -- that bastion of honest interpretation -- and you'll hear the gibberish that Democrats want to withdraw from Iraq immediately, while Republicans have the cajones to fight the war on terror (there, so we don't have to fight it here.)
The truth is that Gen. Casey, some Republicans, most Democrats and a majority of Americans want to see troop redeployment begin next year. Are the various plans identical? No. But the concept is the same.
The only people not willing to admit that are hypocritical Republicans looking to divide the nation, and try to convince a majority of Americans that wanting troop redeployment to begin next year is some sort of fringe liberal, un-American belief.