Gates Contradicts Bush, Cheney On Timelines

robertgates.jpgVia Kevin Drum, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday that Congress’ debate over a withdrawal timeline is having a positive impact:

Gates, on a Middle East tour, called for a range of efforts from inside and outside Iraq to speed up the formation of a broad-based government of Iraq’s majority Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.

….”The debate in Congress…has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited,” Gates told Pentagon reporters traveling with him in Jordan. “The strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable probably has had a positive impact…in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment.”

Gate’s argument contradicts President Bush’s claim that timelines “send the wrong message to the Iraqis,” and prove al Qaeda’s accusations that America is “weak,” “corrupt,” and “can’t stand it.”

Artificial timetable for withdrawal send the wrong message to the Iraqis, they’re seeing it’s not worth it. There’s a lot of Iraqis over there determined — trying to make up their mind whether they want to be a part of democracy, or whether or not they’re going to take to the hills and see what happens. Artificial timetable for withdrawal, an early withdrawal before this finishes sends the message to the enemy, we were right about America. That’s what they said. Al Qaeda has said it’s just a matter of time before America withdraws. They’re weak, they’re corrupt, they can’t stand it, and they’ll withdraw. And all that would do is confirm what the enemy thinks.

Likewise, Vice President Cheney said last week:

It is impossible to argue that an unconditional timetable for retreat could serve the security interests of the United States or our friends in the region. Instead, it sends a message to our enemies that the calendar is their friend, that all they have to do is wait us out — wait for the date certain, and then claim victory the day after.

Such hypocrisy isn’t confined to the Bush administration. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who regularly maligns timelines as a “date certain for surrender,” admitted he used those very calls for redeployment to “motivate the Maliki government” during a dinner last month with Prime Minister Maliki.