Friday, June 23, 2006

Democrats Divided on Iraq

In a previous post, “Liberals Rolling Back?: Center for American Progress”, I have evaluated whether Democrats can govern the United States or not. At this stage, liberals have not shown feasible alternatives on Iraq. The media have been critical to the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. However, this is not an advantage for Democrats, because they are divided on troop withdrawal.

Senator John F. Kerry insists that US troop withdraw from Iraq in 12 month. Majority of Democrats are puzzled with his proposal, because they need to strike a delicate policy balance (See “Kerry upsets his party with Iraq pullout plan” and “Kerry's Iraq plan troubles his party” on June 12, New York Times/International Herald Tribune). According to “For Democrats, a Delicate Balance on Iraq” in Washington Post on June 20, Democrats should be “not too hot on withdrawing U.S. troops quickly, but not so cold as to alienate large numbers of Democratic voters furious about the war and eager to bring the Americans home.”

For this purpose, Senator Jack Reed and Senator Carl M. Levin proposed an amendment to support self-sufficiency of the Iraqi government and police. But liberals and antiwar activists support Kerry’s plan. On the other hand, Republicans are unified with Bush.

People tend to speak of the Iraq “quagmire” without careful consideration. However, this is a double-edged sword for Democrats. Unlike widely believed, Democrats are not in a good position when they attack current Iraq policy. In face of intra-party split, Senator Harry M. Reid said, "One thing Democrats agree on is this war has taken too long, it's too expensive and costs too many lives and too many soldiers injured." Also, Senator Joseph Biden insisted that the United States send Baghdad a strong signal to purge sectarian killers from its security forces and bring more Sunnis into the circles of power ("Democrats Divided on Withdrawal Of Troops", June 21, Washington Post).

In any case, the result of the mid-term election is unpredictable. A mere criticism to the Bush administration’s policy does not help Democrats. They must show feasible alternatives, and be firmly unified. Otherwise, they will not be successful in forthcoming mid-term and presidential elections.