By: E&P Staff
In recent weeks, a growing number of U.S. newspapers have started calling for the beginning of a U.S. withdrawal in Iraq. Now a leading supporter of President Bush, and the war, has come out for a major change in course.
An editorial in The Dallas Morning News, while failing to back what it calls a “total withdrawal,” demands “Plan B in Iraq.” It includes a pullback of all U.S. forces to near the borders of Iraq.
The Belo paper in Bush’s native Texas has long been a supporter of the president and admits in the editorial that it also backed the war in 2003, believing his claims about WMD. But now it adds:
“Americans had reasonable expectations that an invasion of such magnitude would include a viable, well-orchestrated postwar plan to bring stability and democracy to Iraq.
“How wrong we were. The administration has stumbled and improvised through one bad war plan after another, exposing our troops to unacceptable danger. ….This editorial board, having reservedly supported the war in 2003, feels a moral responsibility to help fix this mess, not walk away from it.
“Before Washington politicians reduce the debate to either-or options of total withdrawal vs. commitment to the current course, we think there needs to be a Plan B: Reorienting U.S. troops’ mission in Iraq, reducing their levels and getting them out of harm’s way….
“Americans are being asked for a level of patience that they do not have and that the White House has not earned. It is time for Iraqi troops to take over this fight, even if it means risking full-blown civil war.”
Among other steps, the editorial urges the U.S. to move troops “out of the line of fire by relocating all bases to rural areas within 100 miles of Iraq’s borders. Our troops should be concentrated along the borders with Syria and Iran and more sparsely near the Saudi, Jordanian and Kuwaiti borders. Only nine provinces require such a presence. … End ground-based U.S. military patrols and convoys in areas not covered by the border cordon. Essential ground missions to fight al-Qaeda cells in Iraq should be deployed by helicopter.”
It concludes: “This is not a foolproof plan but a starting point for discussion. We believe this approach is more workable and politically tenable than the options currently being weighed in Washington. Short-term costs to relocate bases will be significant, but they’ll be offset by a need for fewer troops and less-costly security measures.”