As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins its turn with Gen. David Petraeus and ambassador Ryan Crocker this morning, Republican Sen. Richard Lugar is once again expressing his disapproval of the strategy they're pursuing in Iraq.
Lugar, the ranking Republican on the committee, equated the president and his generals to a farmer who works hard to plant his crops on a flood plain "without factoring in the prospect that the waters may rise." "The greatest risk for U.S. policy is not that we are incapable of making progress," Lugar said, "but that this progress may be largely beside the point given the divisions that now afflict Iraqi society ... In my judgment, some type of success in Iraq is possible, but as policymakers, we should acknowledge that we are facing extraordinarily narrow margins for achieving our goals."
That means, Lugar says, that it's time to "lay the groundwork" for "sustainable alternatives," to "prepare for the next phase of our involvement in Iraq, whether that is a partial withdrawal, a gradual redeployment or some other option."
And you can stop us now if you've heard this before.
When the president first announced the "surge" back in January, Lugar said he was "not confident" that the plan would work but declined to vote for a resolution opposing it. When the Senate voted in April to tie funding for the war to a timeline for bringing the troops home, Lugar joined most Republicans in voting no. And when Bush demanded that the Senate go back and pass a war funding bill without any timetable for bringing the troops home, Lugar caved and helped do exactly that.
Lugar said this morning that "we need to see a strategy for how our troops and other resources in Iraq might be employed to fundamentally change the equation there." But to do that, we also need elected representatives who will do more than talk about how to "fundamentally change the equation" here.