As I've written here before, Kevin Drum's web site is the best political blog out there IMHO. A daily must-read.
He recently made the following terrific point, a sort of Catch-22 for the Dems:
The problem, as Niall Ferguson and others persuasively argue, is that our current troop strength isn't nearly enough to defeat an apparently well armed and highly motivated insurgency. Without more troops we're doomed to failure.Drum summarizes, "Democrats will push for withdrawal, eventually they'll get their way, and the country will blame them for the resulting chaos and defeat. Dems will argue that it would have happened anyway, but the public won't buy it. The Republican party, which should get the blame, will get off scot free."
If this is true — and it seems to be — the logic of the situation is inescapable: since we're in an unwinnable situation with the troops we have, and raising more troops is impossible, we're asking soldiers to die for nothing. The obvious answer is to pull out of Iraq, and there's a growing push among Democrats, 41 of whom have just created the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus, to do just that.
But here's the depressing thought: what happens if Democrats press for withdrawal and get their way? What then?
Liberals are fond of Vietnam analogies, so I've got one handy here: it will play out just like the aftermath of that war did. Something like this:
1. Democrats demand an end to the war. Increasingly, polls appear to back them up.
2. Under pressure, a Republican president finally does just that. After some suitably face saving nation building and treaty signing, troops are withdrawn.
3. As virtually all observers fear, Iraq then falls into bloody civil war. Hundreds of thousands die. Neighboring countries are pulled in. Eventually, a new dictator, perhaps a Shiite ayatollah, takes control and forms a passionately anti-American government.
4. Once again, America will appear to have been humiliated by a ragtag army. And despite the fact that polls seemed to demonstrate support for withdrawal, the aftermath will sit poorly with the American public. What's more, they'll know who to blame: Democrats.
So, if the Dems (correctly) press for an Iraq exit, and get it, and Iraq gradually spirals into bloody chaos, guess who will get blamed? Yup, the GOP will jump all over the chance to nail all resulting problems on the Dems. I wouldn't be surprised if Rove has been hoping for the Dems to play into this trap.
Thus, the Catch-22: do the right thing for the good of the country and risk being blamed for any eventual problems by the majority political party originally responsible, OR sit idle and do nothing, and therefore avoid doing the right thing and American soldiers continue to die with no end in sight.
We wouldn't have to worry about such a dilemma if we could count on the general public to see clearly and recognize who (and what) deserves blame (and credit), however past precedence -- including the Vietnam War example -- leaves much to be desired.