By: E&P Staff
Two days after Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) called for a phasedwithdrawal from Iraq beginning within six months, a New York Times editorial came out against any such plan, calling Democratic moves in this direction “realithy avoidance….It involves pretending that the nightmare can be ended by adopting a timetable for a phased withdrawal of American troops.”
President Bush’s policies encourage “the illusion that it is just a matter of time and American support before Iraq evolves into a stable democracy,” the Times editorial on Sunday declares. “The Democratic timetable spins a different fantasy: that if the Iraqis are told that American troops will be leaving in stages, at specific dates, their government will rise to the occasion and create its own security forces to maintain order.
“The Iraqi government has not failed to develop adequate police and military forces of its own because it lacks the incentive. It has failed to do so because it is weak and divided, because its people are frightened and because the strongest leaders in the country are the men who control sectarian militias. A phased withdrawal by itself would simply leave the American soldiers who remain behind in graver danger, and hasten what looks like an inevitable descent into civil war.
“Democrats are embracing the withdrawal option because it sounds good on the surface and allows them to avoid a more far-reaching discussion that might expose their party?s own foreign policy divisions. Most of all, they want an election-year position that maximizes the president?s weakness without exposing their candidates to criticism. But they are doing nothing to help the public understand the grim options we face.
“The only responsible way out of Iraq involves all the things President Bush refused to consider on the way in. That means enlisting help from some of the same Arab neighbors and European allies whose opinions and suggestions were scornfully ignored before the invasion.”