Friday, December 08, 2006

Senator Smith's lament and why it doesn't matter

Having lived in Oregon, I am not a particular fan of their junior Senator, Gordon Smith. He is as much of a political opportunist as anyone I have seen on the political stage, so I am doubtful he really means what he says here (he is up for re-election in 2008, in a state that is becoming bluer by the hour). That having been said, it is encouraging to hear such a strong message coming from a Republican:
In an emotional speech on the Senate floor Thursday night, Sen Gordon Smith, a moderate Republican from Oregon who has been a supporter of the war in Iraq, said the U.S. military's "tactics have failed" and he "cannot support that anymore."

Smith said he is at, "the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up the same bombs, day after day.

"That is absurd," he said. "It may even be criminal."

Smith said he has tried to quietly support President Bush during the course of the war -- and doesn't believe the president intentionally lied to get the U.S. into the war -- but now recognizes, "we have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation" for a war waged due to bad intelligence.

Moved this week by the findings of the Iraq Study Group, Smith said he needed to "speak from my heart.

"I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run or cut and walk, but let us fight the way on terror more intelligently that we have because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way," he said.
The sad part is, no matter how much the American people protest. The US will not leave Iraq in the immediate future. As Atrios has detailed, the President is wedded to Iraq and any pretense that he will listen to reason is misplaced. As this article from the U.S. News indicates:

Former White House advisers to George H.W. Bush are keenly disappointed and concerned about the current President Bush's initial reaction to the report by the Iraq Study Group.

They consider him rather dismissive of the group's conclusions, issued yesterday, which include the view that current Iraq policy is failing. The group recommends a variety of important changes, such as assigning U.S. troops to play more of an advisory and training role and less of a combat role. The ISG also recommends that the United States withdraw most of its combat brigades by early 2008 and that the administration increase diplomatic efforts, including starting talks with Iran and Syria and energetically working toward an Israeli-Palestinian solution.

Adding to the unease were President Bush's comments at his Thursday news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in which he avoided commenting on specifics in the ISG report.

"We have a classic case of circling the wagons," says a former adviser to Bush the elder. "If President Bush changes his policy in Iraq in a fundamental way, it undermines the whole premise of his presidency. I just don't believe he will ever do that."

No level of protestations, short of Laura Bush and Barney leaving the President, will get us out of Iraq in the short term. For Bush, he has simply replaced one addiction with another. He is an Iraqaholic.

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