The Senate Gets It Right
While the Senate rejected by a 40-57 vote on an amendment to a $491 billion dollar Pentagon spending that would have set a timetable of wihdrawal on American forces from Iraq, they passed a far better amendment by a bipartisan vote of 79-19 that sets quarterly reports on the Iraq effort from the Administrsation, as well goals for Iraq to substantially improve and takeover as much of their own defense as posible during 2006.
These are sensible goals amid an increasingly silly debate between Bush and some opponents how America became entangled in Iraq. Indeed it is important that lessons are learned so that military and spy intelligence are tightened up, and gross misjudgements or even hyping of intelligence are not used in future conflicts to justify American involvement if the situation does not warrant the use of American troops. Only situation in which American interests are threatened or serious regional instability will result should the U.S. seek to act. Because of the lack of Iraqi WMDs, lack of missile delivery systems to attack with WMDs, and the greatly weakened state of Iraq after the 1990-91 Gulf War in which much of the Republican Guard was destroyed, UNSCOM arms inspections and weapons destruction, 12 years of UN sanctions, strict enforcement of "no-fly" zones in Southern and Northern Iraq, Saddam Hussein had little ability to present any military threat to any neighboring state. Indeed, he even presented some loss of control ove portions of his nations including areas contrlled by the Kurds in the North. Iraq hardly met the standards of being a threat to U.S. interests, U.S. allies, or the ability to threaten regional security. Instead the U.S. actions in Iraq have presented a threat to regional security as insurgent forces from Iraq even attacked in Jordan last week, carrying their terrorism outside of Iraq.
The U.S. certainly cannot "cut and run" from Iraq at this time. The mission requires that Iraq be left in stable condition where terrorism does not threaten other states spilling over from Iraq, and the nation choose a stable government that is able to unite the nation, not further the ethnic tensions between the Sunni and Shiite community.
According to Pentagon sources, only one Iraqi battalion is able to stand on it's own without American military support, down from three a few months ago. And an Iraqi army of volunteers that ranks somewhere over 100,000 members, has members of various levels of training, no air force or navy like other states in the region. By comparison, Iran has a six million man army of regular soldiers and conscripts, as well as a navy and airforce.
Both the government of Iraq, and the people of Iraq must step up during 2006 to provide a decent democracy in which all ethnic groups are equal members, and the military must be able to provide for their own security in a increasing manner. Unlike the failed "Vietnamization" of the Vietnam War, Iraq's own national security efforts cannot fail and leave a power vacuum in the MidEast in which either terrorists or Iran attempts to fill this vacuum.