War-weary U.S. needs to see new idea in play
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At some point, the posturing and finger-pointing must end, and the work of reconfiguring the U.S. role in Iraq must begin.
That point should be now — which is why it's encouraging to see new potential for a bipartisan accord toward a more productive Iraq policy.
Richard Lugar and John Warner, two Senate Republicans, have introduced an amendment to the defense appropriation bill that would compel the White House to begin planning for various possibilities, including a troop reduction, following the receipt of a progress report on Iraq due Sept. 15.
The legislation would require the president to present his post-September plans by Oct. 16 and implement them by the end of the year. This sounds much more reasonable than President Bush's own message: We won't start planning on an alternative one second before we have to.
The House responded by passing a requirement that troop withdrawals begin within 120 days. Supporters of a drawdown have to realize that such a plan is unlikely to survive a presidential veto.
The stalemate is infuriating.
In the back rooms of the White House, according to Washington watchers, administration and national security officials are already moving beyond the "surge" toward what's been called a post-surge redeployment for the military. But the president is keeping up appearances that "progress" is being made.
That's not enough. Bush knows when the September report from the war room comes, the Capitol Hill clamor for troop withdrawals will drown out any attempt at spin. Further delay in planning for a change is unconscionable.
The American voters need to see evidence of serious work on a redeployment of our forces, one that keeps enough U.S. forces on hand for regional stability and deterrence but moves more Americans out of harm's way and prepares for a changing of the guard.
No need to do that in the back rooms. Bring it out, front and center.