Beltway Media Pleased to Distort GOP Position on Iraq
In the Washington Post's front page story this Sunday about the Democratic Party's position on the Iraq War, the newspaper makes a highly misleading statement about the Republican Party's position. After a comment by Montana Democratic Senate nominee Jon Tester demanding a "plan to move the troops out of Iraq," the Post claims flatly that "no Republican is advocating that the United States maintain high troop levels indefinitely."
One could stretch to make the argument that such a statement is technically true -- no Republican has gone on record saying word-for-word "I want to keep large amounts of U.S. troops in Iraq forever." However, top Republican leaders have repeatedly gone on record making statements or taking concrete steps that support actually keeping large amounts of U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely.
For example, less than three months ago, Reuters reported that "congressional Republicans killed a provision in an Iraq war funding bill that would have put the United States on record against the permanent basing of U.S. military facilities in that country." In other words, despite the Post's claim, Republicans just a few months ago actually went on record as supporting the concept of a permanent, indefinite military presence in Iraq (you can see the video of the congressional debate here). Congressional Democrats' efforts to prevent U.S. troops from being in Iraq indefinitely came after the BBC reported that the administration made massive emergency spending request for base construction that the House Appropriations Committee noted was "of a magnitude normally associated with permanent bases."
A week after that request, "top US General John Abizaid refused to rule out a long-term presence" in Iraq. In fact, this hasn't just been going on this year. The Chicago Tribune reported in 2004 that Bush administration military planners were moving forward with plans for "constructing 14 enduring bases, long-term encampments for the thousands of American troops."
Then there is President Bush, who stated just last week that we will not be reducing troops "while I'm the president."
That was just the latest statement from the administration and the Pentagon about indefinite troop deployments. For example, in May of 2004, international news service AFP reported that the administration quietly announced that it will "keep high force levels in Iraq indefinitely."
Even if you just look at Tester's opponent, Republican Sen. Conrad Burns (R), it's clear that Republicans are quite brazenly advocating for indefinite deployments of large amounts of U.S. troops in Iraq -- regardless of what the public thinks about the war. As the Associated Press reported last week, "Burns said the U.S. must show 'great patience and resolve' and stay in Iraq even if public support for the war continues to erode."
Here's the thing -- politicians either support a plan to draw down troops at some point in the future, or they support leaving U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely. There is no "middle ground" and there is no "third way." Being for one of those positions automatically means you are against the other position, and vice versa -- it's a zero sum question, no matter how much the Washington Post, the Beltway neoconservatives or D.C. Republican Party operatives try to fudge the issue with warmed over double talk. In other words, this is the one of the times where Bush's black-or-white world view is actually applicable: you are either for ultimately bringing troops home, or you are against ultimately bringing troops home - and thus for leaving them as targets in the Iraqi shooting gallery indefinitely.
Democratic incumbents and candidates have largely united in support of pushing the White House to begin crafting a plan to get troops out of Iraq. That is a position polls show the majority of Americans support -- and a position the stay-in-Iraq-indefinitely Republican Party opposes. While the Post may want to try to create false Democratic rifts in order to fabricate grist for its front page, and may want to push dishonest storylines about the GOP supposedly not being for indefinite troop deployments, the facts speak for themselves.