- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Iraq can’t get any worse if U.S. forces withdraw: That was the incredible Democratic assertion at a VETPAC press conference yesterday at Washington’s Phoenix Park Hotel. All it took was a Reuters reporter asking the Democratic military-veteran candidates for a plan on Iraq — no plan was offered, of course — and featured guest Rep. John Murtha did his own version of Bill Clinton’s recent tear on Fox News. Mr. Murtha’s reaction was misdirected; the reporter represented Reuters, which is not known for vast right-wing conspiracy bona fides.

The reporter: “Uh, Andy Sullivan with Reuters News. Your position paper calls for a pullout of all combat troops by 2008. Do you folks have a plan to prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state that could prove a breeding ground for more terrorism that could directly threaten the United States?”

Mr. Murtha: “Where have you been?

“Let me just tell you the facts. They said it costs $50 billion for this war. It’s cost over $400 billion today. Let me tell you they said that they would be able to walk amongst them as liberators. They said there were al Qaeda connections. All the things they’ve said in the past turned out not to be true. What makes you think because they say that there will be chaos that there will be?” A few chuckles and one “yeah” from the crowd. “Do you believe them?”

The reporter: “I’m asking you: Do you think that there will not be chaos?”

Mr. Murtha: “I think … I think this. It won’t be any worse than it is today. It’s a civil war today. There’s sectarian violence, it’s Sunnis versus Shias, and our troops are caught in between. Go out to the hospitals like I do every week and you’ll see the products of this civil war! I mean, this is a failed policy, wrapped in illusion, and they’re overly optimistic and they … they continue to mischaracterize and misrepresent this war!” A few more lines about troops and the need for a diplomatic and political — not military — solution.

“OK, so the position of the group is that it can’t be any worse than it is today?”

A VETPAC staffer intervenes. “Well, we’re all Democrats, so we don’t all agree on the fine points of anything. But that’s the general thrust of the opinion.”

And still no plan offered.

Republicans should thank their stars they have Democrats like Mr. Murtha and friends to voice these type of ideas six weeks before an election. It’s just plain terrible that one of the two major parties is so detached from reality that it thinks Iraq would be just fine if U.S. troops left.

Democrats “act as if all those America-hating terrorists will evaporate back into the sands of Anbar province if the United States pulls out its troops. Alas, that is not the case.” Who said this, some right-winger? No. It was The Washington Post’s David Ignatius yesterday morning.

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