While I've always voted Republican nationally, you may be surprised (maybe not) to know that I vote for a lot of Democrats locally. In some cases, there just are no other choices on the ballot - literally, no other choices. In others, its a wasted vote because only ten people vote Republican for the county board. And in others, its just because the person is better qualified.
When it comes to this election, unfortunately, I worry about the fact that Democrat Nancy Pelosi (or her replacement) may be in a position to negatively influence our involvement in Iraq.
October has been the deadliest month for US troops in Iraq in a long time. But did you know that over 300 Iraqi Army soldiers died in the line of duty as well?
Absolutely, the news reported from Baghdad is grim. It's akin to my hometown of Chicago 80 years ago when the Irish and the Italian mobs fought it out in the streets. Both factions were Catholic. Both factions had control of certain areas of Chicago. Both had prominent politicians and religious leaders in their pockets...or maybe it was vice versa. There are smaller elements that point to civil war in Iraq, but, in my mind, the majority of the violence in Iraq is due to two waring mobster factions - Mahdi and Badr.
They know that the more violence that gets put on camera in America, the more likely Americans want their forces home and we will leave. The more they believe that Americans will leave, the more they will fight for a bigger slice of the pie when the vacuum appears. The Mahdi and Badr factions are doing that right now.
Ramadi is also a mess. Al Qaeda is following the same play book. The Sunni insurgency is there in spades.
And many other areas, a large part of Iraq, is not under the boot of Al Qaeda, the Badr Brigades, or the Mahdi Army.
The biggest successes we've had in Iraq are also some of our biggest challenges - democracy-style elections have been held and a constitution has been drawn up. But we've got an ineffective government sewn with sectarian partisanship. And the Kurds may vote on secession in a year.
One major goal in Iraq is to stop the violence as much as possible in order to stabilize the country while we train the soldiers and police force to eventually serve in that role. Arguably, another one of our successes is the formation of a (mostly) effective Iraqi Army which has thus far (mostly) remained out of political dealings and machinations. The police force...not so much.
Another goal is to create a plan for the three sects (Kurd, Sunni, and Shia) to share power AND oil revenues. That hasn't happened yet either.
Further, we have been ineffective at stopping Syria and Iran from interfering (they've aided our enemies with human, technological, and financial capital).
While these goals seem far from reality now, none of those goals will ever happen if we cut and run. If we cut and run, millions will die. You can count on that.
The truth is that we don't know what will really happen if the Democrats control the House or Senate or both on Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, the premise of "cut and run" comes in more than one flavor. The Democrats may just choose to obstruct the war or they may choose to end it by cutting the funding. They may choose to investigate how pre-war intelligence was handled or they may choose to investigate the post-war CPA failures. Investigations and impeachment hearings will embolden our enemies and scatter our allies. Certainly, the Democrats won't even have a plan to win in Iraq until they've won a house, picked a leader and then spent time figuring out a politically tenable strategy to present. A lot of this will be to set the political stage for the Presidential elections and not really aimed at fixing anything.
So I doubt, ultimately doubt, that they will work with the President (and he needs to work with them) on winning this war.
The only way we can win is if Democrats and Republicans realize that winning is more important than partisanship and work together. In this way, both sides share blame and share victory - one way or the other - if they work together - right now. One of the main reasons that I hold politicians on both sides of the aisle with such disregard is that they probably are unable do that. My friend, Major Eric Egland, wrote a strategic paper (that I whole-heartedly agree with) on how we can win the war in Iraq. Congress and the President should listen to him.
We will need more troops, a lot more money FREELY spent (think Tennessee Valley Authority type of projects), and more will in order to meet the above goals in Iraq. And what of the goals of the rest of The Long War - this Global War on Terror?
Unfortunately, none of those goals are likely to occur if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives. If you choose to vote for Pelosi's side in order to punish George Bush, you will only be punishing the Iraqis and those who fight for their freedom.
We owe it to the Iraqi people not to cut and run. Cast your vote with that in mind.