A couple of articles about the politics of Iraq withdrawal merit a read by Democrats searching for policy consensus on this issue. Trudy Rubin’s Philly News column is generating some buzz among the progressive blogs. She points out that Iraqi leaders want US toops “drawn down” within 18 months, but don’t want “an explicit timeline”:
Instead, they favor a “road map” for troop reductions, that depends on achieving a set of goals for improving Iraqi security. They want dates, but dates that depend on meeting those targets…As for Democrats, they should stop obsessing over timelines. The Republicans and Iraqis will set those soon enough.
Instead, Democrats should focus on the issue of competence. They must convince voters they are more capable of salvaging the Iraq mess than the incompetents who created it.
And The Washington Monthly‘s Kevin Drum explains in his post on Rubin’s column that she and Iraqi leaders:
..appear to believe that an open-ended commitment to the occupation of Iraq is a bad idea, and that a vague commitment to drawing down U.S. forces that’s something short of a firm timetable is a good idea. On that score, 38 out of 44 Senate Democrats seem to agree.
…This is not precisely what the Reed-Levin resolution called for, but it’s pretty close: make at least a small start on troop drawdowns this year; don’t set a specific timetable for further drawdowns; but do insist that the Bush administration submit a redeployment plan by the end of the year that specifies “estimated dates…with the understanding that unexpected contingencies may arise.”
Meanwhile, over at Mystery Pollster, Mark Blumenthal offers insightful analysis in several posts on recent polls measuring U.S. opinion on Iraq withdrawal.