Democrats to pro­pose Iraq pull­out in Jan­uary res­o­lu­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Eric Pfeif­fer

The two top Se­nate Democrats on for­eign pol­icy on Nov. 12 said they will in­tro­duce a res­o­lu­tion in Jan­uary call­ing for troops to start be­ing with­drawn from Iraq by this sum­mer, a move that Sen. John McCain said would put the U.S. in the worst of both worlds.

Sen. Carl Levin, Michi­gan Demo­crat in line to lead the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, said his party’s elec­tion vic­tory vin­di­cates calls for a change of strat­egy in Iraq and said with­drawals would need to start this year, de­spite White House op­po­si­tion to any timeta­bles, a stance it also re­it­er­ated on the Sun­day po­lit­i­cal shows.

“The peo­ple spoke dra­mat­i­cally, over­whelm­ingly, re­sound­ingly, to change the course in Iraq,” he said dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on ABC’s “This Week.” The Se­nate’s “first or­der of busi­ness is to change the di­rec­tion of Iraq pol­icy.”

“We need to be­gin a phased re­de­ploy­ment of forces from Iraq in four to six months, to be­gin that re­de­ploy­ment,” he said. “We have to tell Iraqis that the open-ended com­mit­ment is over.”

On the other hand, Mr. McCain saidonNBC’s“Meet­thePress”that theU.S.troop­p­res­en­ceinIraq­would need to be in­creased to achieve vic­tory and said he would fa­vor a to­tal with­drawal if that didn’t hap­pen.

“I be­lieve that there are a lot of things that we can do to sal­vage this, but they all re­quire the pres­ence of ad­di­tional troops,” he said.

Mod­er­a­tor Tim Russert said: “It sounds as if McCain is say­ing, ‘Ei­ther send more troops in, se­cure the coun­try and win, or make the de­ci­sion and get out.’ ”

“I think that that’s pretty much my po­si­tion,” said the Ari­zona Repub­li­can, who is con­sid­er­ing a run for the White House in 2008. “Maybe it’s more nu­anced than that.”

Sen. Joseph R. Bi­den Jr., who ap­peared on the same ABC seg­ment as Mr. Levin, said he backed the Michi­gan­der’s res­o­lu­tion and elab­o­rated on some of its other de­tails.

It also would call for “a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment in Iraq, put pres­sure on the Iraqis to in­sist upon a means to dis­trib­ute the oil eq­ui­tably, to make sure that there’s some form of fed­er­al­ism and to deal with the mili­tias, and call for an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence,” said the Delaware Demo­crat who is ex­pected to take the reins at the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

Be­sides Mr. Levin and Mr. Bi­den, Sen. Harry Reid of Ne­vada, the in­com­ing ma­jor­ity leader, also called for a re­de­ploy­ment of troops from Iraq, which he said “should start within the next few months,” al­though he said the with­drawal should be phased.

“We need to have a re­de­ploy­ment in Iraq. What does that mean? Pull ev­ery­body out now? Of course not,” Mr. Reid said dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion.”

White House of­fi­cials said Pres­i­dent Bush op­poses a spe­cific timetable for with­drawal and par­ti­tion­ing of Iraq, but that he is will­ing to re­con­sider pro­pos­als on con­duct­ing the war.

“I don’t think so. And I think it would be a very bad idea,” White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten said when asked on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion” whether his boss would sup­port a timetable, al­though he added that “no­body is happy with what our sit­u­a­tion in Iraq is now.”

Still, Mr. Bolten told ABC’s “This Week” that “the pres­i­dent’s open to fresh ideas here.”

“The pres­i­dent ob­vi­ously wants to take a whole fresh look at what we’re do­ing in Iraq,” he said on CBS.

Mr. Bush met on Nov. 13 with mem­bers of a com­mis­sion, led by for­mer Sec­re­tary of State James A. Baker III and for­mer Rep. Lee Hamil­ton, that Congress ap­pointed to make rec­om­men­da­tions about U.S. pol­icy in Iraq.

White House coun­selor Dan Bartlett also de­nied spec­u­la­tion that the ad­min­is­tra­tion, based on re­ports about the Baker-Hamil­ton panel, is con­sid­er­ing a par­ti­tion­ing of Iraq into re­gions based on ethic or re­li­gious makeup.

“I think many ob­servers and ex­perts watch­ing the po­lit­i­cal process in Iraq would say that that would be a mis­take to go that route,” he said dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on “Fox News Sun­day.” “Most im­por­tantly, the sov­er­eign gov­ern­ment of Iraq be­lieves that that would be the wrong way to go. To par­ti­tion the coun­try would only in­crease sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence and strife, not call for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

Mr. McCain added that he op­poses a timetable for with­drawal of U.S. forces.

“I be­lieve that a with­drawal, or a date for with­drawal, will lead to chaos in the re­gion, and most mil­i­tary ex­perts think the same thing,” he said.

How­ever, Mr. Levin and Mr. Bi­den both said they would not sup­port cut­ting off funds for the war, a move some lib­er­als have de­manded but which Rep. Nancy Pelosi, likely the next speaker of the House, ruled out the day af­ter the elec­tion.

“As far as I’m con­cerned, it’s ab­so­lutely off the ta­ble,” Mr. Bi­den agreed.

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Sen. John McCain, Ari­zona Repub­li­can, said on Nov. 12 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the U.S. troop pres­ence in Iraq needs to be in­creased to “sal­vage” the sit­u­a­tion. He op­poses a with­drawal timetable.

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