The Senate got through the long slog today of defeating the proposed withdrawl plans of Democrats today. It was so popular that Senators voted to defeat it twice.
What is it about the occupation of Iraq that is so popular among the Administration and Congressional Republicans? There is certainly something in it for them that they continue to resist the idea of an end to an armed presence inside that country. Else, how does one explain the persistence?
It is far from a still-raging war. That would imply that: A) Congress actually declared war which it did not do in the case of Iraq, and B) that President Hussein's armies still were functioning and the capital and the countryside was under his control. The Iraqi Army was routed in scant time by the U.S. military, and the President himself declared that major combat operations were over. It is not knowable if that statement meant that minor combat operations were just beginning, but it was unequivocally accepted as a victory speech by President Bush.
What is left is a low-level civil war (obviously the result of unleashing the ethnic strife between three groups of people) and a resistance movement against the U.S. occupation. The insurgency does not exist to re-fight the war but to remove and resist the occupier. Those that are self-described jihadists (along the lines of al Qaeda in Iraq) number a small fraction of the total insurgency as can best be ascertained by those close to the events.
So the fall of Iraq as a nation has been accomplished, and a new government erected and blessed by the U.S. authorities stands in its place. Again, from the surface this does not sound like an ongoing war.
Let us add to this one very plain notion repeated often enough to be quoted verbatim, "as the Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down." It is said quite a bit actually. By its very nature, that rule explicitly implies that it is not the duty of the United States military to kill every last insurgent, or collar every single jihadist. From the Administration's own rhetoric, leaving is not to be based on when the last person like Zarqawi is dead. Hence there is no further victory to be had; the military presence acts more like a caretaker force until such time that Iraq's nascent army can take modest control.
Recall that the debate in the Senate focused on "surrender" and "cut and run," without aknowledging that even the President has not committed the Army, Air Force, and Marines to fully occupy Iraq until 100% peace is achieved. It is almost as if Republicans on the Hill are asking that the men and women who remain targets in Iraq to simply accept that this is their sole function. From what can be found on the web today about Iraqi security force levels the number approximately comes to 117,900. This accounts for Iraqi Army personnel, Support Forces, and Special Operation Forces. The Ministry of the Interior claims 145,500 individuals. 263,400 security personnel, and not many American servicemen have been called back home. How tall do those Iraqis have to stand up?
One can question whether the Iraqis would be able to maintain a stable country were it not for the American forces, yet should the civil war expand and consume the several provinces, will the U.S. take a side? covertly combat all ethnic groups and force a peace?
Cut and run? It was suggested that the euphimism for the Republican desire be "Sit and wait." Maybe it would help America to continue the debate without the quips and snips of the opposite side. Even still, Americans and Iraqis will continue to die for months if not years to come in an unending occupation.
At some point the American public will thoroughly sour of the adventure. Maybe then some sense will begin to take hold in Washington, D.C.