At Ideas Primary today, former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) and Democratic Leadership Council founder Al From chastise Democrats and war critics for pushing for “immediate withdrawal” from Iraq, arguing instead for a “bipartisan agreement” to keep a “military presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future to guard our strategic interests in the region”:
Republicans are holding out for an illusory victory. Democrat rightly want to force a new direction, but they’re not going to get it if the only option they offer is immediate withdrawal. It’s clear the votes for immediate withdrawal are not there, and the resulting impasse will empower President Bush to maintain his same failed policy through the rest of his administration. [...]
The key to a new course is to forge a bipartisan agreement in support of a small sustainable military presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future to guard our strategic interests in the region.
Though Ford and From are cloaking their argument in the language of “reducing and re-deploying our troops,” their policy prescriptions echo the positions of liberal hawks like Brookings’ Michael O’Hanlon and would set the stage for a long-term presence in Iraq for the U.S. military.
Additionally, their proposal flies in the face of public opinion. In a recent poll done for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), “70 percent of registered voters” said “President Bush’s $200 billion Iraq war supplemental spending request should be rejected or conditioned on redeployment.” A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S. troops to withdraw as well.
In fact, Ford and From’s advice for congressional war critics sounds eerily familiar, almost like the advice President Bush says he is trying to give his potential successors: stay longer.