[Marxism] Rats deserting stinking ship

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 13 06:29:33 MST 2006

(Bush says he's still looking for information on which to base his
new policy which will also lead to staying the course in Iraq thus
leading toward victory. This is a good sign, above all for there
to be more, bigger and more urgent demonstrations everywhere which

This is reminicent, or is it redolent of Pete Seeger's great song:
Waist Deep In The Big Muddy (and the big fool keep pushing on...)

December 13, 2006

Republican War Critics Find Cover
Oregon's Sen. Smith Shows
How Iraq Report Can Spur
A Shift Among Moderates
December 13, 2006; Page A8

President Bush's handling of Iraq has long faced attack from both the
left and a few hawkish conservatives. Now, the crisis there is giving
him a new political headache: high-profile dissent from the center of
his own party.

The dynamic has been triggered by the pessimistic assessment of Iraq
released by the Iraq Study Group last week. In ways unimaginable just
a few months ago, the report from the bipartisan panel, co-chaired by
former Secretary of State James Baker III and former Rep. Lee
Hamilton, is giving moderate Republicans political cover to condemn
the handling of the war -- creating a dilemma for the president and
war supporters such as Sen. John McCain.

The most prominent recent critic is Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of
Oregon, a former supporter of the war and two-term senator facing
re-election in 2008, who now says he has come to see it as unwinnable
and derides U.S. policy in Iraq as "absurd" and "criminal."

But other centrist Republicans, apparently fearful of the war's
impact on their re-election prospects, also are using the report to
explain changes in war postures. New Hampshire's Republican senators,
Judd Gregg and John Sununu, for instance, were once strong backers.
In September 2005, Mr. Gregg called the idea of a phased withdrawal
from Iraq "a policy that is firmly grounded in Birkenstocks and
clearly not grounded in the reality of the world as it is."

Last week, however, Mr. Gregg hailed the report as "an important step
forward in our efforts to try to resolve the morass that has become
Iraq." Mr. Sununu simply said it showed "we are not winning the
struggle in Iraq."

The criticism from Republican moderates represents a new political
threat to Mr. Bush, whose handling of Iraq contributed to his party's
losses in last month's congressional elections. With most Democrats
already against the administration on Iraq, Mr. Bush needs Republican
backing to stave off a Congress-led shift on the war. Moderates like
Mr. Smith are key to that effort.

The rising tide also could hurt Sen. McCain. The Arizona lawmaker,
currently seen as the front-runner for the party's 2008 presidential
nomination, is the war's staunchest supporter outside the White
House. He has called for sending tens of thousands of new U.S. troops
to Iraq. Mr. Smith calls that idea "not politically possible."

Instead, the Oregon Republican wants to begin withdrawing U.S.
military forces from Iraq and redeploying a smaller force to bases
along the country's borders with Iran and Syria. He would have the
U.S. forces that stay in Iraq focus on preventing foreign extremists
from crossing into the country and pursuing al Qaeda terrorists in
the country. The key, he says in an interview, would be ensuring that
U.S. forces are no longer caught in "an ancient civil war that is not
our fight and that we cannot fix."

Mr. Smith, who made his fortune in the frozen-food industry before
entering politics, voted for the 2002 resolution that authorized Mr.
Bush to use military power to oust Saddam Hussein, and he argued
diplomacy alone wouldn't be enough to persuade Mr. Hussein to change
his ways. In February 2003, weeks before U.S. forces invaded, Mr.
Smith told a conference of Oregon Republicans, "If we walk away from
this ... history will judge us badly."

In March 2005, he visited Baghdad for the first time since the
invasion. Speaking to reporters after his trip, he expressed wariness
about the open-ended U.S. military commitment to Iraq. He said he
hoped U.S. forces could begin withdrawing that fall to avoid being
seen as occupiers. The administration also hoped to begin a U.S.
military withdrawal then, a move that might have boosted Republican
prospects in mid-term elections.

But the deteriorating situation in Iraq forced the White House to
abandon those plans, and Mr. Smith says his pessimism deepened. He
visited Iraq again last May and says he left convinced that too many
American troops were in the country.

Mr. Smith says the November election underscored the need for a
change in Iraq -- policy makers have an obligation to listen "when
the public speaks so clearly," he says -- but he didn't decide to
make the case publicly until a week ago. That morning, he says, he
turned on the news to check the traffic and weather and saw a report
that 10 U.S. soldiers had been killed that day in Iraq. Mr. Smith
says he fumed over the fatalities during his commute, and concluded
the time had come to say publicly what he had thought privately for
weeks. The next night, at a lectern in a virtually empty Senate
gallery, he declared in a speech, "Either we clear and hold and
build, or let's go home."

Mr. Smith, who hadn't been well-known nationally, attracted a flood
of television attention with his comments. The White House fielded
questions on why a sitting Republican lawmaker was calling Mr. Bush's
handling of the war "immoral."

Mr. Smith says a small number of fellow Republican senators gave him
the cold shoulder after his speech. Others, he says, told him he had
given voice to a feeling they shared but weren't yet willing to voice

"Many of my colleagues have been telling me, 'Thanks, that needed to
be said,'" he says.

--Jackie Calmes

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