"Levin, who's been more right on Iraq for a longer period than just about anyone else, has suggested that rather than setting a deadline for withdrawing now, we should link our commitment to remain militarily engaged in Iraq with a demonstrable Iraqi commitment to resolve their key political differences. If elections are held this December and Iraqis of all stripes participate to the maximum extent possible, if a new national assembly is formed and a constitutional committee representative of all Iraqi interests is established, if the committee can reach consensus on how to amend the constitution within the four month timeframe that has been agreed to, and if the amendments are approved in a national referendum, then there's hope that, for all their differences, the Iraqis are committed to work them out peacefully within a unified Iraq. And if they do that, we should stay engaged to help them succeed -- by providing security, training national security forces, and supporting economic and political efforts to reconstitute the Iraqi state."
I worry, though, that the debate in this country has become too polarized around President Bush's concept of "staying the course" or not to allow ideas such as this to gain traction. Would any liberal hawks like to rally public support behind this banner? It's smart politics for them as well as sound policy, for it would allow them to preserve their pro-war credentials while showing they don't approve of an unconditional open-ended commitment to what many view as a quagmire. Senator Clinton, I'm watching you.