KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, a parallel debate developed over the issue of getting out of Iraq. Senate Democrats call for President Bush to provide dates for troop withdrawal was rejected by Republicans who argued establishing a time line would have negative consequences.
SEN. BILL FRIST: Some have referred to this as the cut and run provision; that is, pick an arbitrary time line and get out of Iraq regardless of what is happening on the ground.
Republicans, August 2008:
BAGHDAD (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday that U.S. and Iraqi officials agree that timetables should be set for a U.S. troop withdrawal, but conceded that nailing down a broader pact on future relations is difficult.
President Bush, November 2005:
But Mr. Bush refused again to set a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal, saying conditions in Iraq will dictate when American forces can come home. He said setting a deadline to pull out is "not a plan for victory."
John McCain, July 2008:
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Sen. John McCain could support a 16-month timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, he told CNN's Larry King Monday night.
President Bush, April 2007:
Speaking in the Midwest state of Michigan Friday, Mr. Bush again criticized opposition Democrats for calling for a timetable for troop withdrawal, saying it undercuts U.S. forces at a time when there are signs of progress.Bush Administration, July 2008:
WASHINGTON — The United States and Iraq have agreed to seek "a general time horizon" for deeper reductions in American combat troops in Iraq despite President Bush's once-inflexible opposition to talking about deadlines and timetables.
I realize the Administration will claim we can now use such no-no words as “timetables” and “withdrawal” because of the success of the Glorious SurgeTM, but let’s not forget that Iraq’s sovereignty was a big issue stalling this security pact just two months ago. I’ve also long been of the belief that as soon as U.S. troops leave Iraq--whenever that may be--we’ll see a return of sectarian violence. For one thing, there are still troubling signs of deep sectarian division in Iraq. I’m not sure you can call the surge a success if the gains evaporate as soon as we leave.
But of course, that’s why we have all those private contractors, right? A ratio of 1:1, in fact. So even when U.S. troops do leave Iraq, will all of those Blackwater and DynCorp employees be left behind? Is it still really a withdrawal if 190,000 Americans are still there, ensuring our interests are served?