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February 23, 2006

Redeployment: Another Election-Year Stunt


by Joshua Frank

The Democrats are getting ready for the upcoming election season. Having done so poorly for the past, well, decade or so, they may finally be seeing an opportunity to capitalize on one of the Bush administration's many misfortunes. Whether it's Jack Abramoff's lobbying sleaze, Cheney's happy trigger finger, or Scooter Libby's indictment, they sure have plenty of Republican mishaps to choose from.

They certainly would like us to believe they're pulling it all together. They want us to believe they are finally catching on to the fact that the majority of Americans think this war isn't going so hot. So the Democrats are putting forward a plan to get the troops out of Iraq. Seems like a logical idea. People will go for that, they think. But in order not to look soft on terror, the Dems won't be calling for a "withdrawal" of U.S. troops they'll just "redeploy" 'em.

It's tricky stuff, really.

On one hand, the Democrats want to look tough, but on the other, they want to appease the antiwar crowd. It's fiddly terrain. If the Democrats don't toe the line juuuust right, they may fall off the edge into oblivion (okay, maybe they already are floating around in the great ether) and lose another round of elections. Or so their strategy goes.

Most of the antiwar movement thinks the troops should have been shipped back home yesterday. So we are the ones they are looking to fool first and foremost without our support (which they usually take for granted and, as you will see, are again), they cannot beat even a Republican Party on the verge of collapse.

Since last fall, the Democrats in Washington have been contemplating a plan to get the troops out of Iraq. They call it "strategic redeployment," so as not to sound too dovish. They had a former Reaganite named Lawrence Korb write it up.

"We aren't going to cut and run, that's just Republican propaganda," the Washington Post reports DNC Chair Howard Dean saying on Feb. 10. ''But we are going to redeploy our troops so they don't have targets on their backs, and they're not breaking down doors and putting themselves in the line of fire all the time. It's a sensible plan. It's a thoughtful plan. I think Democrats can coalesce around it."

Dean is in part being honest; they certainly are not cutting and running. But the plan Dean is touting is anything but sensible, and the antiwar movement should not, I repeat, should not support this ugly thing. The "plan," if that's what you want to call it, does not ask for immediate withdrawal it would be phased. And more importantly it's not withdrawal at all it's a call for the redeployment of armed forces to other outposts in the Middle East.

According to the policy report [.pdf], "Strategic Redeployment: A Progressive Plan for Iraq and the Struggle Against Violent Extremists," put out by the Center for American Progress, which Rep. John Murtha supports, redeployment isn't all that better than the Republicans' plan to "stay the course":

"As redeployments begin, the remaining forces in Iraq would focus on our core missions: completing the training of Iraqi forces; improving border security; providing logistical and air support to Iraqi security forces engaged in battles against terrorists and insurgents; serving as advisors to Iraqi units; and tracking down terrorists and insurgent leaders with smaller, more nimble Special Forces units operating jointly with Iraqi units.

"By the end of 2007, the only U.S. military forces in Iraq would be a small Marine contingent to protect the U.S. embassy, a small group of military advisors to the Iraqi Government, and counterterrorist units that works closely with Iraqi security forces. This presence, along with the forces in Kuwait and at sea in the Persian Gulf area will be sufficient to conduct strikes coordinated with Iraqi forces against any terrorist camps and enclaves that may emerge and deal with any major external threats to Iraq. 14,000 troops would be positioned nearby in Kuwait and as part of a Marine expeditionary force located offshore in the Persian Gulf to strike at any terrorist camps and enclaves and guard against any major acts that risk further destabilizing the region."

There it is, spelled out in frightening detail. The Democrats' election-year stunt is just more of the same. This is what we should have expected from the beleaguered and directionless Democratic Party, and the antiwar movement should not get excited about this meager offering. The Democrats still want U.S. military bases in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. And U.S. troops won't be coming home anytime soon. They'll just be transferred from one imperialist venture to the next.

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  • Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh's blog at www.brickburner.org. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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