Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had some harsh words for President Bush’s announcement that there will be a halt to troop withdrawals from Iraq in July. Bush also announced that he is cutting the length of troop tours from 15 months down to a year. However, this change doesn’t impact troops already on the front lines.
“Today’s announcement by the President can only be described as one step forward, two steps back. After almost one year, the Administration is finally heeding the call of Congressional Democrats and military leaders to decrease troop deployments to 12 months. Democrats have been fighting hard for more rational troop deployments and rest time back at home, but have found our efforts blocked twice by President Bush and Senate Republicans,” Reid said.
Reid saved his most biting comment for last, “The President still doesn’t understand that America’s limited resources cannot support his limitless war. Let me be clear: this is not a so-called troop pause. With today’s announcement, the President has signaled to the American people that he has no intention of bringing home any more troops. Instead he is leaving all the tough decisions to the next Administration. President Bush has an exit strategy for only one man – himself on January 20, 2009.”
I think that everyone has long grown tired of President Bush hiding behind Petraeus and Crocker to justify his decisions about Iraq. No matter how much how much he wants to spin it, the general and the ambassador answer to him, not the other way around. The fact that the next president was going to inherit little George’s mess, has been known since 2005. All the president did today was confirm what we already knew was going to happen. His speech reaffirms that our choice next November is critical. Americans will have to choose whether or not we want to stay in Iraq.
If this, along with the economy, are the central issues of the 2008 campaign, the Democratic candidate, no matter who that is, will be left with some tough decisions the day after the party ends on January 20, 2009. Both Clinton and Obama agree with the vast majority of Americans that it is time to get out of Iraq. The issue for either of them will be how to structure America’s departure. The next president will inherit the responsibility for 142,000 troops. Our vote next November will determine whether all of those troops come home, or some of them continue to be wounded or die.