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More at Source: The Iraq Debate That Wasn't
Americans would be forgiven for thinking there's a major debate underway in Washington over whether or not the U.S. should leave Iraq. The Senate is halfway through two weeks of fierce fighting over setting timelines, enforcing benchmarks and generally trying to pressure the White House to reduce the number of American troops there. President Bush held a lengthy press conference, Thursday, in which he hinted he might change course on the war after his generals report to him in September. Once they've done so, he said, "We'll use that data... to, you know, make another decision, if need be."
So what's with all the end-the-war talk? The impression being created by the debate in Washington is more about politics than anything else. For starters, Democrats are playing to their base: Though most Senate Democrats support a redeployment along the lines that Bush is describing, they are keen to give voters the impression that they are all for getting the U.S. out of Iraq. And they are, but not yet. They, too, recognize a need for a strong, interim force in country to offset the threat of mass killing, secure the borders, chase al-Qaeda and deter Iranian meddling in the country.
As for the Republicans, they too are playing to core supporters. They know that, in theory at least, Bush wants a smaller role for U.S. troops; he's been trying to get there for years, now. But their interest is to cast the political battle with Democrats as one of strength vs. defeatism. So, even if the Democrats' position is not in fact that far from where the President claims to be headed, both sides are portraying the gap between them as unbridgeable. Which, in turn, leaves the impression that the debate is between those who want to escalate the war and those who want to withdraw U.S. forces entirely.
If you're looking for someone who will lead a speedy withdrawal from Iraq, you'll have to go to the extreme left or right of the parties. Nobody in the mainstream is looking to get out soon.