Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rogers on the War

Kyle Melinn had a nice article in the Lansing City Pulse this week about Rep. Mike Rogers' shifting position on the Iraq War. Let's take a look...

An AP/AOL News poll released this week showed only 31 percent are standing behind President George W. Bush’s suggested “troop surge” in Iraq. It’s a stunning change from just five years ago, when 68 percent of Americans thought the country was on the right track, a healthy majority gung-ho about Bush’s pending Iraqi invasion.

The tune is changing in Congress, as well. Lawmakers are no longer rolling over and cutting the president a blank check for whatever he believes is necessary in Iraq. The November elections and subsequent leadership change probably had a lot to do with that. And Rogers appears to be changing along with them.

Ooh, this should be good. Maybe I missed something in the news cycle. Maybe Mike Rogers finally came around on the Iraq debacle, and stated his opposition to the escalation!

Well, maybe I shouldn't get too excited just yet.

Consider these three quotes from Rogers, a Brighton Republican whose district includes Lansing:
• “(Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda) have well established themselves to murder Christians, Jews, Muslims, women, children; they’ll behead you, they’ll shoot you, they’ll blow you up. They don’t care … Let’s come home in defeat? That’s no standard for victory!”
• “The debate now is, ‘How do we win?’ Under what circumstances do our troops come home?”
• “America’s military men and women who sacrificed so much must know that the new way forward in Iraq is a plan in which the military mission and the rules of engagement are clearly defined, and specific benchmarks are outlined for Iraqis to take over so our troops can come home.”

The final quote lacked any reference to “winning.” In its place is the word “benchmark.” The focus shifted from the theoretical “victory” in Iraq, whatever that could look like, to simply making sure more American soldiers come home, and not with American flags draped over them.

Would it be fair to say, then, that Rogers is tempering his opinions on Iraq?

Tempering his opinions on Iraq? Maybe. I guess I'm just not seeing any remarkable shift in the tone of Mike Rogers' rhetoric about the war.

I'm sure there's more to come though. I'm sure the Congressman from Michigan's 8th District had something meaningful to say for himself about the troop escalation, right?

Well, not exactly...

Rogers’ press secretary, Sylvia Warner, says no. “His opinions are based on a number of things, but largely on the knowledge he has gained while traveling on classified trips in Iraq and in classified briefings in the Intelligence Committee. The only change is that he is saying more publicly now some of the things he has been privately pressing the Administration on for many months.”

Yeah, when things get tough, Mr. Rogers sends his press secretary to explain his position on "the defining struggle of our time" to his constituents. That's dedication, folks.

But to be fair, as Ms. Warner explains, Mike Rogers has been "pressing the Administration" in private for months. And let me tell ya, Rep. Rogers must be one persuasive fellow, because President Bush obviously took every bit of advice from the Iraq Study Group, right?

Weeeellll... not so much.

At least Mike Rogers seems to be coming around though.

But even if Rogers is having a metamorphosis on the subject, isn’t that OK? Even if you supported the Iraqi war in the first place and “victory” was the end objective, haven’t we already won? Weapons of mass destruction don’t seem to exist. The crazy dictator is six feet under. A democracy, of sorts, is operating in Iraq.

Of course it's okay for Mike Rogers to have a "metamorphosis" on the Iraq war. Better late than never, I always say.

Still, it would be nice if Mr. Rogers could catch up with his colleague in the Senate, Chuck Hagel, who has said of the troop surge,

"This is a dangerously wrong-headed strategy that will drive America deeper into an unwinnable swamp at a great cost. It is wrong to place American troops into the middle of Iraq's civil war," Hagel said in a statement. "The president's strategy will cost more American lives; sink us deeper into the bog of Iraq making it more difficult to get out; cost billions of dollars more; further strain an American military that has already reached its breaking point; further diminish America's standing in the Middle East; and continue to allow the Iraqis to walk away from their responsibilities."

"We cannot escape the reality that there will be no military solution in Iraq," Hagel said. "More American troops, treasure and casualties will not change this reality."

I won't hold my breath waiting for that kind of passionate opposition to the Iraq war from Mike Rogers. Even if he ever completed this "metamorphosis" on the war though, I'm sure Rogers would announce it to his constituents through his press secretary, Sylvia Warner.

I would just remind the Congressman...

There comes a time when changing your mind is no longer about the pride of ultimately being proven right. It’s about saving yourself from looking even more foolish.

Apparently, this is not a concern for Mike Rogers.

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