As the war in Iraq drags on and the causalities mount, the Democratic Party still lacks an exit strategy for Iraq, despite the waning support for the war, as shown by recent poll numbers.Not all Democrats have been hesitant to demand an exit strategy and pressure the Bush administration to start withdrawing troops. Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, who is also a veteran of the Vietnam War, made front-page news in November when he demanded that the administration withdraw troops within six months. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorses Rep. Murtha’s plan and also wants a quick withdrawal.
However, most of the prominent Democrats have distanced themselves from Rep. Murtha’s plan and lack a clear exit strategy. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has still not come out to denounce the war and demand that the troops come home. In an e-mail sent to supporters on Nov. 29, Sen. Clinton was vague about her strategy for Iraq. “I do not believe that we should allow this to be an open-ended commitment without limits or end,” her e-mail said. However, it went on to say, “nor do I believe that we can or should pull out of Iraq immediately.”
Sen. Clinton stated that she believes the war in Iraq should not drag on, but where is her exit strategy? She has yet to offer a timeline for when the troops can come home.
Former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry also has not presented a timeline for when all troops can be brought home. Like Sen. Clinton, he does not favor an immediate, full withdrawal of troops. “To those who suggest we should withdraw all troops immediately-I say no,” he said at a speech at Georgetown University in late October. “A precipitous withdrawal would invite civil and regional chaos and endanger our own security,” he went on to say.
Sen. Kerry’s theory that a full withdrawal of troops would invite chaos to the region and country is debatable. It seems as though most of the insurgency is driven by U.S. occupation. If Sen. Kerry is worried that more disorder would sweep Iraq without a presence of U.S. troops, then he should pressure the Bush administration to train Iraqi forces faster, so U.S. troops can leave.
Though the former presidential candidate does not support a full withdrawal of troops, he did urge the administration to withdraw 20,000 troops over the holidays, which is more than most Democrats have requested. However, he still has yet to offer a timeline for when the rest of the troops can come home.
Democrats should have no reason to not demand an end to the war. Recent poll numbers show that the majority of the country continues to lose faith in the war.
In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted between Jan. 20-22, 58 percent of the 1,006 adults questioned stated that they disapprove of how the president is handling the situation in Iraq. The poll went on to say that 51 percent of those surveyed believe that sending troops to Iraq was a mistake. The poll has a margin of error plus or minus three percent.
As the recent poll numbers show, Americans do not approve of the war, and they do not understand its purpose. Democrats should offer Americans an alternative to the president’s stay-the-course agenda that he emphasizes. It is time for the Democrats to form an exit strategy for bringing the troops home.
Brian Fanelli is a senior majoring in comparative literature with minors in creative writing and journalism.