Republican war supporters have given Bush their own deadline to show progress in Iraq — six to nine months.

Several leading Senate Republicans who support President Bush’s troop-boosting plan for Iraq say they will give the administration and the Iraqis about six months to show significant improvement.

“I don’t think this war can be sustained for more than six months if in fact we don’t see some progress,â€Â? Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said Wednesday. Until this month, he was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Roberts’ comments came two days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the new U.S. military push was the Iraqis’ “last chance.â€Â?

“This needs to be successful over the next six to nine months,â€Â? McConnell said in an interview Monday with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto. “And if not, we’re going to have to go in a different direction.â€Â?

There you have it. As I’ve said before, Bush has one last chance to succeed in Iraq, because both Democrats and Republicans want it off the table for the 2008 elections.

These are war supporters, mind you, and their work is largely an attempt to derail the anti-surge resolutions making their way through Congress. But it’s a sign of how far the debate has shifted that the hawkish alternative is a six-month deadline.

Speaking of resolutions, war opponents appear to have found bipartisan common ground.

Two senators, a Republican and a Democrat, leading separate efforts to put Congress on record against President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq joined forces Wednesday, agreeing on a nonbinding resolution that would oppose the plan and potentially embarrass the White House.

Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., had been sponsoring competing measures opposing Bush’s strategy of sending 21,500 more U.S. troops to the war zone, with Warner’s less harshly worded version attracting more Republican interest. The new resolution would vow to protect funding for troops while keeping Warner’s original language expressing the Senate’s opposition to the buildup…. It lacks Levin’s language saying the troop increase is against the national interest, and it drops an earlier provision by Warner suggesting Senate support for some additional troops.

Works for me. The important thing is to get Congress on record opposing the plan. Though I hope Bush’s “surge” works, I doubt it will, and Congress needs to get out front on the issue to avoid being accused of armchair quarterbacking with hindsight. The resolutions lay the groundwork for later, more robust action if such proves necessary. And it will give Bush a huge cudgel to use against Congress if he turns out to be successful.

Debate on the measure could begin Monday.

  • It’s always six months with these people. Six months is just long enough to get it off the current agenda and push it out over the horizon. By the time the six months are up everyone’s forgotten there was a ticking clock.

    I think we’ll know sooner. Look for whether Iraqi army casualties outnumber US casualties by a significant degree. Look for whether Muqtada is screaming and threatening — if he’s not it’s because he knows the Maliki government isn’t really coming after him. Watch the movement of Sunnis and Shiites to see whether ethnic cleansing is still going on. If you read the words “militia forces recaptured” or “insurgents retook” at any point, game over, it means we’re “clearing” but not “holding” let alone building.

  • bob in fl

    Well, well, well . . . “Hurry up! The Elections are coming!”

    Meanwhile, in the rest of the region . . . NATO is increasing forces in Afghanistan. Bush now has 3 carrier groups in the Persian Gulf. And there is a US military presence in the countries bordering the north of Iran. Seems Iran is surrounded by hostile armies & navies. Meanwhile, Bush is stepping up the rhetoric.

    Does anyone else sense a lot of misdirected focus here? Seems to me that in 6 months, Bush will have lit the fuse in Iran & we will be engulfed in an even wider war we can’t win. And the claims of Iran developing nuclear weapons are being stated ONLY by the same people who lied our troops into Iraq, using the same, exact lie. Add to this discussion of a limited nuclear option against Iran’s “weapons factories” by some in the military establishment, & we have a scenario of certain, absolute disaster.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. How many times are we going to let King Geoge fool us?