John Kerry's call for strategic, timed withdrawal met with some excitement among progressives. My own reaction ranges somewhere between downing a whole bottle of Nyquil while listening to John Tesh or watching a Blazer game after going a couple of days without sleeping.
The substance of Kerry's proposal is just fine. His hearkening back to the days of Vietnam seems appropriate in context of Iraq:
Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our valiant soldiers can't bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq's leaders are unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires.
Kerry proposes withdrawal from Iraq if the Iraqi leaders fail to assume the responsibility of forming a unity government by May 15th of this year. If the Iraqis DO put together a government he proposes we leave by the end of the year. Either way we get the hell out.
It's a plan that's sensible, well thought-out and necessary for the strategic, long term interests of the United States. So what's my problem with it? Nothing. It's the messenger I'm having a problem with.
Since the election Kerry seems to have become very much the flip-flop milquetoast the Republicans caricatured while he was running. He's taken a couple of brave yet politically calculated moves in his belated call for the censure of Samuel Alito and this call for complete military withdrawal from Iraq which will surely meet with howls on the Right. But he's also shown all the political courage of a mouse in his failure to back other Democrats that have spoken against the egregious excesses of this administration. The most recent example is Kerry's conspicuous lack of inclusion on the short list of names supporting Feingold's call for censure.
It's unfortunate that it's just too damn easy to see the gears turning the political calculations by Kerry in his call for pressuring Iraqi leaders to assume control and withdrawal from Iraq. It's a message that needs to be heard. We just need a better messenger.