Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter on Democrats and Iraq. Here’s the headline:
War critics desperately need a new bumper sticker, a way to commit to withdrawal without looking like surrender monkeys.
Politically, the “war on terror” continues to be a useful GOP bumper sticker, whatever John Edwards’s objections. Instead of bemoaning this, Democrats need their own bumper sticker—some way of framing their position that commits firmly to withdrawal from Iraq, but doesn’t make them look like surrender monkeys. Without it, they have no coherent policy.
History can help. In 1993 and 1994, President Clinton developed a policy called “lift and strike” in the Balkans—lift the arms embargo against Bosnia and strike Serbian positions to prevent ethnic cleansing. The approach was inconsistently applied, which hindered its effectiveness. But at least it was a policy.
Now, Democrats should embrace what I like to call “pull and strike”—pull forces from the streets of Baghdad, but strike hard at Qaeda positions in the Sunni areas and in Afghanistan, mostly from air bases outside Iraq. In other words, saying no to the folly of intervening in a civil war between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites isn’t enough. Critics must also say yes—loudly—to calling in airstrikes on foreign fighters, who are increasingly being identified by friendly local sheiks determined to chase them out of their country.
But after spending the entire article arguing for a new slogan for the Dems, Alter concludes:
Whether Democrats call it pull and strike or something else, they’ve got to better communicate the two-pronged nature of their approach. This isn’t about sloganeering. It’s about clearly and memorably conveying the complex truth that leaving Iraq is not enough.