The Democrats and Iraq

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"Democrats fear backlash at polls for antiwar remarks" is the headline over this Washington Post story. There's obviously some panic in Democratic ranks over DNC Chairman Howard Dean's statement that the war in Iraq was unwinnable (Dean has argued, unconvincingly, that his remarks were taken out of context), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's statement supporting immediate withdrawal and asserting that most House Democrats share her view struck many other Democrats as alarming. So they are scrambling to come up with some middle-ground position. Reporters Jim VandeHei and Shalaigh Murray describe an emerging compromise:

While the party is divided over the specifics of Iraq policy, most Democratic legislators are slowly coalescing around a political plan, according to lawmakers and party operatives. This would involve setting a broad time frame for drawing down U.S. troops, starting with National Guard and reserve units, internationalizing the reconstruction effort, and blaming Bush for misleading the country into a war without a victory plan.

It should be readily apparent that there's not much there there. "Broad time frame": That doesn't sound much more specific than what the Bush administration says. "Starting with National Guard and reserve units": Under the policy established by Gen. Creighton Abrams after the Vietnam War, National Guard and reserve units have specialized functions that no regular units have, so no deployment can take place without them. General Abrams noted that few Guard and reserve units had been called up to serve in Vietnam, and he wanted to make them essential to future deployments. You can debate whether that's a good policy or not, but you can't really have a deployment without the Guards or reserves. "Internationalizing the reconstruction effort": It already is internationalized, and further "internationalizing" is almost certainly impossible, since countries that have refused to participate will most likely continue to do so.

In other words, this "political plan" is exactly that, a verbal formula on which many, perhaps most, Democrats might be able to agree. But it's not a serious proposal in any real-world sense.