On Thursday, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) became the latest high ranking Republican senator to break with the Bush administration and call for a change in strategy in Iraq. At a news conference to announce that he will support the Iraq Study Group Recommendation Implementation Act, Domenici said, â€œI want a new strategy for Iraq. I continue to completely support the men and women in the American Armed Forces. They have not failed us. It is the Iraqi government that is failing to make even modest progress to help Iraq itself or to merit the sacrifices being made by our men and women in uniform,â€ Domenici said. â€œI am unwilling to continue our current strategy.â€
The Senator continued, “I have carefully studied the Iraq situation, and believe we cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress to move its country forward. I do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or a reduction in funding for our troops. But I do support a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path to coming home.â€ The Iraq Study Group implementation bill makes the Groupâ€™s 79 recommendations the policy of the United States, and asks President Bush to implement this policy.
One of the things that have attracted Republicans like Domenici to the Study Groupâ€™s recommendations is that they donâ€™t set a deadline for troop withdrawal, but instead create conditions that would allow many of the troops to come home by March 2008. The recommendations do not lay out plans for a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops. Some troops will stay in Iraq to protect American personnel and interests, carry out anti-terrorism operations, and train and advise Iraqi forces. Slowly but surely, Senate Republicans are starting to gain the courage they need to break from the current failed policy in Iraq and call for change. Sen. Domenici is up for reelection next year, but he is in a seat that is considered safe. Perhaps senators like he and Richard Luger feel free to speak out because they donâ€™t have to worry about political payback from the White House, or running in a close race next year.Â
Â They are also some very heavy political considerations here. I think all Republicans realize that if they stick with the president, they will probably lose more seats in Congress and maybe even the White House in 2008. What is even more likely is that they are finally ready to recognize that President Bushâ€™s strategy has been a complete failure, and while Bush soon will only have to answer to history, they will be continuing on in the Senate after he is out of office. Mostly though, I think Democrats, and increasingly Republicans, are tired of this war. The consensus is growing that it is time to start bringing the troops home and move on.
Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politicsÂ