Friday, August 17, 2007

Senator Gordon Smith

Republican Friday #3: Another in my weekly series which attempts to establish that some Republicans retain socially redeeming qualities.

Oregon Senator Gordon Smith is running for re-election in 2008. Perhaps because of the views of his constituency, he has apologized for his vote in 2002 authorizing George Bush to invade Iraq.

On 11-Jul-07, Senator Smith became the lead Republican co-sponsor behind the Levin amendment in the Senate that would put U.S. troops on a glide path out of Iraq, allowing for greater focus on combating terrorists.
We need to be fighting terrorists not civil wars. Iraq’s peace is one they must win on their own; we cannot win it for them. Our might should be focused on stopping terrorists who are plotting to bring harm to the United States. . . .

Underpinning the current course and the argument of many of my colleagues on this side of the aisle is the hope, the predicate, that at the end of the road there will be an Iraqi government that will govern effectively and democratically. I believe President Bush's formulation, that we will stand down when they can stand up, is backwards. I come to that conclusion, based on numerous trips to Iraq, that they will not stand up until we begin standing down.
Senator Smith recently toured Iraq with Senator McCain, but he certainly came away with different views:
What I have learned firsthand is that Americans have no comprehension of the complexity, the factionalism, and the intensity of hatred that exists in some parts of the Middle East. On top of the factionalism, there are ancient sectarian strifes which produced a low-grade civil war that we cannot win, and which is not ours to win. It is theirs to win.

. . . . My fear is that what our presence and current posture are doing is simply keeping a civil war at a low-grade level. Civil wars end in one of two ways: one side wins and the other loses, or they fight it out until they figure it out. My fear is that we delay the day for them figuring it out with our current posture.

. . . . We cannot want democracy more for them than they want it for themselves, and what they seem bent on is an ethnic cleansing of their neighborhoods, a religious division. Ultimately, those are their decisions, not ours. But as long as we say we will take the bullet first, they will let us.
14 months early, I am projecting Gordon Smith's reelection in 2008.

Erratum Maximus!
I have been in error!

Because of comments by readers (see below), I rescind any positive comments above!