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Iraq Choice: 'Stay Forever' vs. 'Give Us a Plan'

Reported by Judy - June 19, 2006

After Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania on Sunday responded to Karl Rove's attacks on Democrats who have demanded a timetable for removing troops from Iraq, Fox News lept to the Bush administration's defense Monday (June 19, 200) with a lame debate on "Dayside" over whether Democrats have a better plan for Iraq than Bush does.

The situation was a set-up. It assumes, first of all, that the Bush administration has a plan, other than build permanent bases and stay there forever or until the oil runs out or Halliburton milks the treasury dry, whichever comes first.

Bush doesn't have to have a plan, but Democrats should, according to Fox. So Fox falsely frames the debate as "stay the course" versus "cut and run."

"Dayside" co-host Juliet Huddy asked conservative talk radio host Mike Gallagher, "Who has the best strategy for Iraq?" allowing him to to reel off GOP talking points about the Democrats not having a strategy except "lt's rip what we're doing, let's rub the president's nose into the ground every chance we get. ... That's their strategy." Gallagher also attacked Murtha, a decorated veteran, for being "like cranky Uncle Fred at Thanksgiving dinner who won't stop squawking and complaining about the way the world is."

Then Huddy and co-host Mike Jerrick went to Democratic strategy Sascha Burns and asked what the Democratic strategy is. Burns argued that the Bush administration has set plenty of political goals for Iraq, such as the adoption of a constitution and the holding of elections. She asked the perfectly reasonable question: "Why on earth would it be a bad idea to set military goals."

Jerrick then trotted out the old canard about Democrats having voted for the war. (Actually, they voted to authorize the president to use force if he thought it necessary. They did not order the war started, but left it to his judgment, after having received cherry-picked intelligence designed to make the case for war, but Jerrick left that out.)

Then Jerrick quoted from Murtha's book in which he said, "If we cut and run, we give a horrible message to all of our Arab countries in the Middle East," and said that Democrats gave the green light for war, but when it ws crunch time, they want to leave.

Burns insisted that "no one is going to cut and run," but only set military goals so Americans aren't there forever.

Gallagher countered that that was impossible. "I'm sure Osama bin Laden is waiting to find out when the troops are going to withdraw so they can go back in and be even worse the day after the troops go home," he said.

What an ignorant comment. Osama bin Laden in Iraq? Since when? The U.S. invaded Afghanistan looking for Osama bin Laden, not Iraq. Does Gallagher even know the difference? Nothing like lying to the American people, giving the totally false impression that the war in Iraq has something to do with 9/11.

The segment was totally lame. Burns did her best to reframe the terms of the debate away from "stay the course" vs. "cut and run," as all Democrats should attempt to do.

The debate over Iraq is really about "stay forever" versus "give us a plan." Burns is right. If Bush could set political timetables and claim that each time one was met it was some kind of a turning point, why can't he set military goals? Because he doesn't want to. Because he has no desire to bring the troops home. Because Republicans need ongoing, non-stop war in order to justify the billions they want to funnel to defense contractors, to justify the infringements on American freedoms that they have foisted onto us, and to keep the public scared enough that they will accept this state of affairs.

The Bush administration is ignoring the desire of the Iraqi people for Americans to leave. According to the most recent poll of Iraqis, 87 percent of Iraqis asked support their government endorsing a timetable for the U.S. to leave their country -- 87 percent. But 80 percent believe the U.S. has no intention of ever leaving and plan to stay in Iraq permanently even after the situation there is stabilized.

So the issue is not about "cut and run" vs. "stay the course." It's "stay forever" vs. "give us a plan for getting out." It's what the Iraqis want. If we really are there to help the Iraqis, shouldn't we give them what they want?

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