Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Iraq Timeline Announced. Any Impact On Elections?

Top US generals and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad announced today a rough timeline for the complete hand-over of security in Iraq to the Iraqi government. Gen George Casey is now calling the fighting strictly an Iraqi problem.

"Since the elections in December, we've seen the nature of the conflict evolving from what was an insurgency against us to a struggle for the division of political and economic power among the Iraqis," said Casey.

This is a big change for the Bush administration - even if they won't admit that. Iraq went from the battleground for an apocalyptic struggle against good and evil to being a mainly sectarian battle between Iraqis with US troops in the middle of it. This change is a tactical move - or gamble - before November. The Bush administration realized that their unflinching stance on Iraq was hurting Republican candidates prior to 11/7. The GOP pressure became too much for the White House.

More and more, the issue is dominating election campaigns and altering the political landscape. That, and the historic pattern of midterm losses for the party holding the White House, has cast a heavy gloom over rank-and-file Republicans, particularly those on the ballot.
The GOP doubts, coupled with widespread Democratic opposition to Bush's strategy, put intense pressure on the White House
to do something differently, and momentum for that will build if Republicans lose the House or Senate

The latest poll numbers on Iraq show growing discontent with the situation there, obviously contributing to the gloomy GOP outlook for the midterms. The BA is still playing down these minor changes to their Iraq strategy, meaning voters may not even notice the changes before November. If the White House won't trumpet the Iraq shift, it will be left up to those struggling GOPers to spread the word on the campaign trail. Will that be enough?


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