Sen. Maria Cantwell gave a 15-minute address on the floor of the US Senate yesterday, which the Seattle P-I describes as “largely a restatement of her earlier positions.” That’s mostly true, though I’m guessing most of her critics on the angry left would prefer a pithy statement of values, rather than the wordy policy speech she gave.
I urge you to read the full text of Sen. Cantwell’s speech for yourself, but the P-I article did include some very savvy expert analysis:
Much of the critical conversation about Cantwell’s Iraq stance has been conducted on the Internet. The creator of a prominent political blog in Washington state, David Goldstein, said he doubts Cantwell’s comments Wednesday would change many minds.
“Many on the left in Washington state have latched on to Senator Cantwell as the local symbol of this war, and I’m not sure if anything could dissuade them of that notion,” Goldstein, who runs the blog HorsesAss.org (www.horsesass.org), said in an e-mail.
“Instead, what we get are reasonable speeches like this in which she lays out a very pragmatic, if emotionally unsatisfying, approach,” Goldstein wrote. “While she does not explicitly say so, I read this speech as setting a goal of being ready to substantially withdraw within 18 months, and considering the security concerns, again, that seems rather pragmatic and even optimistic. But again, that won’t come anywhere near satisfying those who are demanding an immediate withdrawal.”
Man… that Goldstein guy really knows what he’s talking about.
Now before anybody jumps down my throat I want to reiterate that I do not believe we should have invaded Iraq, and I do not mean to be dismissive towards those who call for an “immediate” withdrawal. There is a legitimate debate to be had as to whether our military presence in Iraq causes more problems than it solves, and whether our objectives (assuming we have any) are desirable or achievable.
But to those who attack Sen. Cantwell for being pro-war or for having no plan to withdraw, I have to say that this simply is not true. Sen. Cantwell is clearly not for immediate withdrawal; she’s for making the best of a very bad situation by attempting to stabilize the Iraqi government, build its security forces, and internationalize the intervention so as to permit the US to largely reduce its military presence over the course of the next year and a half or so.
Whether this is possible or not, I do not know, but it is grounds for a reasonable debate. Unfortunately, the sense that I get from some people in my own party — people I largely agree with on many issues — is that they do not want a debate. They want Sen. Cantwell to apologize for her vote, to aggressively criticize the Bush administration, and to call for an immediate withdrawal. I understand this, but well… life is full of disappointments.
Anyway, I urge Sen. Cantwell’s critics to hold their fire for a moment, read her speech, and then come back and tell me what exactly is so unreasonable or immoral about her approach to what is a very difficult problem. (I mean, apart from her failure to criticize the Bush administration for its stunning dishonesty and incompetence, which would have been satisfying, but not particularly productive.)