Thursday, November 09, 2006


What a week so far. I’m not too surprised that the Democrats won the House and most likely the Senate, but Rumsfeld’s quickly tendered resignation threw me for a loop.

Or was it “quick”? The fact that the President already has a new man for the position tells me that this resignation was in the works for a while. Its timing, however, is worth a ponder.

For a long time Donald Rumsfeld has been a focal point of attack from the anti-war groups and the Democrats. His resignation has been called for again and again. His handling of the War in Iraq has been criticized roundly from all sides. However the President has stood firmly by his Secretary of Defense, and even last week has said that Rumsfeld would remain in his position till the end of this Administration’s term.

Now all that has changed. With the new leaders in Congress we see that President Bush’s position is weakened. Both he and the new House Majority Leader have already made the customary statements about “working together”. Having Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld resign is throwing a bone to the Democrats. Here is some “change” which you have been screaming for, so now you can’t complain. Let’s work this out now.

So what is the plan for direction with the President and the war? Let’s take a look at his newly selected candidate for the vacant position.

Robert Gates has extensive experience with Middle East matters. He was a former Director of the CIA and is the President of Texas A&M University. More importantly, he was a member of the ISG, the Iraq Study Group led by James Baker, former advisor to President George H.W. Bush, which also consisted of politically inactive Democrats and Republicans. Before this recent election, President Bush’s attitude towards the commission’s report was noncommittal - he would be open to listening to their findings and recommendations - though not necessarily adopt them. But now he faces demands for change which he cannot ignore. The Democrats have no answers for the War. They clamor for change yet cannot think of any new ideas - other than the previous unfortunate model of Vietnam: cut and run.

The President knows he cannot accept a Cut and Run Policy. He understands the enormous consequences of such a policy: lessening of world status, defeat, emboldening terrorism all over the world, increased terrorist recruitment (America CAN be defeated), and most worrisome of all - a power vacuum in the Middle East into which Iran will merrily step.

So what is the significance of appointing Robert Gates? The opportunity to use the ISG Commission Report as a platform for change in the War in the Middle East. Maybe even that might tempt the Democrats to work with the Administration since they have no new ideas of their own. Plus, if the Democrats are smart, they will claim credit for this new approach. It might work.

What changes are possible? Here are some scenarios:

*Maintain the current strategy. It’s stagnant. The coalition government itself cannot keep the peace and we’re taking the bullets (literally and figuratively) for it. James Baker has already hinted that this system is not working.

*Cut and Run. We already know that this option is the worst one, and the President will not budge on it. We cannot allow Iran to become the dominant power in the Middle East.

*Redeploy our forces away from danger and maintain a presence in order to keep Iran out of Iraq. Create a new mission focus which centers around suppressing Iran’s influence in the region. This would address the growing problem with Iran and maintain our miltary presence.

None of these options are very attractive, but then the world situation ain’t pretty at all. What’s worse is that the President is faced with hindrances in the form of a biased media, a hostile Democratic Senate and House, and fewer allies. My bet is the third option… and if the Democrats can see past their noses then hopefully they will work with the President in protecting our nation.

That’s what their job is in the first place. They better remember that. Power and control does not last forever. And the Republicans have just learned that oh so painfully.