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June 24, 2006

"A Broad, Conditions-Based Timetable"

Shakes here...

I like Drum’s response to Newsweek’s report on the draft copy of Iraq’s soon-to-be-announced national reconciliation plan, which includes a statement from National Assembly member Mahmoud Othman that “no one disagrees with the concept of a broad, conditions-based timetable.” Drum says:

Did you get that? No one disagrees with the concept of a broad, conditions-based timetable.

President Bush would be flatly insane to turn this opportunity down. It's precisely the kind of request he needs in order to declare victory, assure everyone that the job is close to done, and make it clear that he respects Iraqi sovereignty and doesn't plan to occupy their country forever. There would be no loss of face and no loss of national honor.

Conversely, if he resists it, it would be hard not to conclude that he was doing so solely because a "broad, conditions-based timetable" also happens to be exactly the position of the vast majority of the Democratic Party—and he would rather chew off his own big toe than do anything that might turn down the volume on the domestic partisan jihad that's been so politically successful for Republicans ever since 9/11. I guess we'll find out soon.

Spot-on. It’s also the kind of request Bush needs to address the concerns of those within and outwith our borders who have subtly and not-so-subtly encouraged him to give some indication of his long-term intentions. Nebulous phraseology like “stay the course” may play in Peoria (though not as well as it used to), but the effectiveness of vague pronouncements in most of the rest of the world is long past its sell-by date. An actual plan would be most welcome—and would restore some of our credibility with more than just Iraqis.

Of course, if the lack of an objection to a broad, coalition-based timetable is central to discerning a possible opportunity, the possibility that Bush will be a stubborn, petulant bundle of spite is the unavoidable centerpiece in contemplating the possible failure to rise to the occasion. Having spent the past million years or so determinedly slagging off Dem proposals and deliberately mischaracterizing them as “cutting and running” and “rais[ing] the white flag of surrender in the war on terror,” he’s painted himself into a difficult corner, from which the only prospect of escape is selling essentially the exact same idea of which he’s been unrelentingly contemptuous by identifying it as “what Iraq wants”—and hoping nobody notices.

Then again, if navigating our way out of Iraq using a map that looks suspiciously like the one drawn by the Dems gets his base’s knickers in an angry twist, one has to wonder how much they’re genuinely interested in a real solution, as opposed to winning a political game at any cost—including more lives of the troops they profess to support.

But, speaking of the troops, there’s more to that national reconciliation plan than the appeal for a timetable. It also requests “Amnesty for all insurgents who attacked U.S. and Iraqi military targets. Release of all security detainees from U.S. and Iraqi prisons. Compensation for victims of coalition military operations.” Several Senate Republicans have already spoken in favor of amnesty, which isn’t going down well with some soldiers (one example here) and may present additional navigational problems for Bush. While the document makes an effort to distinguish between insurgents and terrorists, specifically “in response to Sunni politicians' demands that the ‘national resistance’ should not be punished for what they see as legitimate self-defense in attacks against a foreign occupying power,” there’s a rather unfortunate history of “with us or against us” chiefly promulgated by Bush himself that may leave such distinctions ringing hollow to certain ears.

In other words, he’s got a lot of hurdles yet to climb to find his way out of this clusterfuck, many of which—as usual—are of his own making.

June 24, 2006 | Permalink


Good post, Shakes. I'm genuinely curious to see what Bush will do in response to this.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jun 24, 2006 5:51:15 PM

Me, too.

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister | Jun 24, 2006 5:59:14 PM

I am worried this report may not be accurate. See here:

Will Maliki Call for a Withdrawl Timetable?

Posted by: WPB | Jun 24, 2006 6:03:11 PM

If the ad at BLACKFIVE is any indication, the Big Lie is just getting rolling for another Swiftboating campaign against "disloyal encouragers of the insurgents".

Posted by: opit | Jun 25, 2006 1:39:23 PM

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