Advice to the Democrats: Stop acting like wimps and call for a referendum on Iraq
It's time for the Democratic leaders who failed to oppose President Bush's ill-advised Iraq invasion to stop acting like wimps. They should concede that they made a grave mistake in not recognizing the mess that the war would create. They should call for a referendum in Iraq, allowing its inhabitants to vote on whether U.S. troops should stay or leave.
The Democrats are not directly responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 brave young American soldiers and the wounding of many thousands of others. Nor are they directly responsible for the waste of more than half a trillion dollars that could have been spent to bolster Social Security and Medicare, rebuild New Orleans, finance scores of vital, under-funded domestic programs, and strengthen homeland security measures to counter Islamist terrorism. The buck stops in the Bush White House.
Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership stands feebly aside. While the most incompetent Presidential administration in a century has screwed up foreign and domestic affairs, the Democrats have failed to provide meaningful alternative policies.
Of all the blunders committed by the Bush Administration--from cutting taxes in the face of soaring Federal expenditures to creating an unfathomable Medicare drug plan--the Iraq invasion stands out as the biggest. The saddest feature of the war is that, according to a recent poll, 85% of the troops believe the dubious claim that they are fighting in retaliation for the 9/11 attack.
If it were not so serious, it would be comical watching the Pentagon deliberate whether the growing chaos in Iraq is only a communal conflict or a full-blown civil war. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld calmly declares that the Iraqi security forces are capable of preventing a civil war. But he fails to recognize that these forces are so sectarian in makeup that they themselves would be participants in an all-out civil war.
The most serious consequences of the Iraq invasion have been the creation of new anti-American terrorist forces, the growing instability in Afghanistan where we had defeated the Taliban, and Iran's emergence as a far more dangerous threat than it was before.
President Bush boasts that we have introduced democratic free elections in Iraq. Iraqis have indeed elected a parliament. Now they should be allowed to go one step further--to have a referendum in which they can vote on whether American military forces should stay in their country or leave. According to recent opinion polls, an overwhelming majority of both Shiites and Sunnis want us to get out. Why isn't the Democratic leadership calling for such a referendum?