ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: “Democrats Can’t Wait Around for GOP Defectors to End the War.”

Well, they can vote to end it themselves. But they’ll be responsible for what comes next. And they don’t want that — in fact, one of the things they most want is to take the issue off the table before fall of 2008 so they don’t have to offer a policy.

I agree with Mickey Kaus:

The New York Times is for withdrawal of U.S. troops from most of Iraq, except maybe the Kurdish north. Even the promising Anbar-type initiatives–which seem to require an aggressive U.S. military presence–are apparently to be abandoned. The Times admits the result of the withdrawal will “most likely” be chaos, including “further ethnic cleansing, even genocide.” But it still prefers withdrawal. Jules Crittenden finds this morally curious, and so do I. … I could be convinced that withdrawal is justified because the ensuing burst of sectarian killing will be short, followed by relative stability–preferable, in the long run, to continued occupation. I could be convinced we should abandon the goal of a unitary Iraqi state and focus on some sort of engineered partition. I hope I couldn’t be convinced that we should abandon Iraqis to “genocide” just because the resulting deaths can be blamed on Bush. Does that mean they don’t count?

Not to me, but perhaps the folks at the Times feel differently. But I think they’re crazy to think — as I believe they do — that such a result would help the Democrats. Won’t they at least listen to the BBC?

Meanwhile, it seems clear to me that (1) Bush can pretty much run out the clock on the surge, with at least 6 or 8 months before Congress can make him do much; and (2) Whoever’s President in 2009 will do what looks right at the time, regardless of what he or she says in 2007. (This is why I kind of like Richardson, despite what he’s saying about Iraq.) It’s also clear that at the moment nobody has much of a strategy for 2009 if the issue’s still on the table. Realistically, even if we’re making steady progress, the American public is way past the “three year rule” on overseas combat and by 2009 they’ll be more than double that amount. Heck, I’m not hearing much in the way of useful ideas on what to do about Iran, either. So I guess whoever the next President is will pretty much wind up improvising, regardless of what’s said now. So who in the current field looks like a good improviser?

UPDATE: I agree with Hugh Hewitt that Republican Senators are kidding themselves if they think that going wobbly on Iraq is going to help them. But it’s of a piece with the kind of self-defeating strategy that Byron York points up. Can you say “Republican Death Wish?”

Related thoughts here and here.

And Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. isn’t afraid to call people traitors when they don’t appreciate the nature of the threat confronting us . . . . “This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.” Hey, I thought it was wrong to question people’s patriotism!

Meanwhile, Dan Riehl offers some historical perspective. Yeah, our losses are lighter, and our military is better, but our politicians are worse.