Today, the Senate will debate a pair of amendments that urge the administration to begin a phased redeployment of American troops out of Iraq. Increasingly, progressives and conservatives are unifying behind two very different approaches to resolving the Iraq conflict. Progressives across the spectrum believe that redeployment of U.S. forces must begin immediately:
“[Sen. Jack] Reed (D-RI) said redeployment should begin ‘as quickly as possible’ to ease the strain on the troops, but added that the measure does not establish a pace.”
Joint statement of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA): “Our troops have done their job in Iraq. It is time to redeploy – to help increase stability in Iraq, and more importantly, to strengthen the national security of the United States.”
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI): “[The amendment] does urge that a phased redeployment begin this year, partly as a way of moving away from an open-ended commitment and a way of avoiding Iraqi dependency on a U.S. security blanket.”
Conservatives, however, remain wedded to Bush’s stay the course rhetoric, unwilling to make any promises of a near-term departure from Iraq. In defense of Bush, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said:
Retreat is not an option. Those calling for an early withdrawal of American troops from Iraq utterly fail to understand the potentially catastrophic implications of their proposal.
But in fact, the administration and its conservative allies find themselves out of touch with Iraqi sentiment and are growing more and more isolated in their approach. Today, Iraqi National Security Adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, weighed in decidedly in favor of the progressive approach — the immediate start of a redeployment. Al-Rubaie writes:
Iraq’s ambition is to have full control of the country by the end of 2008. In practice this will mean a significant foreign troop reduction. We envisage the U.S. troop presence by year’s end to be under 100,000, with most of the remaining troops to return home by the end of 2007.
Al-Rubaie joins the Iraqi president, Iraqi vice president, and Iraqi prime minister in calling for a withdrawal to begin soon.
UPDATE: At this afternoon’s press briefing, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli was asked about the Al-Rubaie op-ed. “Frankly, I didn’t read it that carefully,” he said.