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Time's not right for timetable
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Speaking to a group of Boy Scouts last month, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) said he doesn’t favor a timetable for bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq as that bloody conflict grinds on into its fourth year.

Yet Democrats have done just that, attaching dates to spending authorization measures in bills that recently passed both the House and Senate and setting the stage for a probable veto from Pres. George W. Bush, who claims any timetable will be disastrous for American forces.

Actually, Congress can’t enforce a timetable -- though it can specify limits on troops and their roles or cut funding for the war altogether. The latter is particularly unlikely to happen, since most politicians understand that the American people, no matter what they may think about the war in Iraq, won’t stand for seeing U.S. troops do without what they need while they’re in harms way.

Yet at the same time, there appears to be a growing number of Americans who favor a timetable for troop withdrawal. Those who back such a strategy believe that tensions in Iraq will decrease with U.S. troops either out of the picture or at least restricted to training Iraqi forces. Others argue it’s time for the Iraqis themselves to take on the lion’s share of restoring order in their own country, and a timetable will hasten them toward achieving that goal. Those may be valid points.

But if a timetable is established and followed, what if sectarian violence doesn’t diminish once U.S. troops leave? What if Iraq’s infant government topples? And what happens if terrorists become more emboldened by America’s departure and begin looking for targets on our shores?

We don’t know the answers to any of those questions, nor what real effect a timetable will have on the Iraqis. But what if they see it as a sign we're abandoning them? And would a timetable send a message to the world that America lacks the resolve to finish what it starts?

For now, there should be no timetable.

Bryan County News

April 4, 2006

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