Re: Upping the Ante

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Karen asked:

What did Hillary Clinton mean at her news conference just now, when she said that she would vote for the non-binding resolution opposing the President’s surge/augmentation/escalation policy, but that Congress “will eventually have to move to tougher requirements on the Administration to get their attention”?

I can tell you what she didn’t mean: She is against a definite date for withdrawal. She is against cutting off funding for the troops.

What she did suggest was a set of benchmarks for both the Iraq government and the Bush administration, for “evidence of tangible activity” within six month or else she will move to cut off funding to… the Iraqi security forces, including military contractors. The Iraqis will need to de-de-Baathify, as well as shoulder a greater part of the military burden. (And, as a cameraman was heard to mutter: “See if they can get a hanging right.”) As to what criteria the Bushies are supposed to meet, hey, if democracy is good enough for the Iraqis, why not demand it here?

The proposal is classic Clinton triangulation — it protects her from criticism that she’s cutting off funding to “our boys,” and it does suggest a real consequence for Iraqis. Conservative critics have already said that she’s basically threatening to take Iraqi’s “body guards” away; talk about “give me freedom or give me death.” Clinton herself paraphrased the key aphorism, telling reporters that the prospect of cutting off the Iraqi army would “focus the mind” of the government. Usually that refers to a hanging, but I’m sure it applies to suicide bombers, too.