All have garnered attention for criticizing the "surge" and proposing a reduction in troop levels. But all have also rejected actually ending the occupation.
In substance, they are merely quibbling with the White House over the size of the occupation.
The political objective is to put superficial distance between the party and the president, in hopes of maintaining political viability in 2008, without actually renouncing the neoconservative policy goals that keep us in Iraq indefinitely, and keep stoking regional instability.
Domenici's statement yesterday supports and gives momentum to legislation -- introduced by Dem Sen. Ken Salazar and GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, and co-sponsored by 5 other GOPers and 4 other Dems -- to make the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group official US government policy.
The Iraq Study Group, remember them? Last November, LiberalOasis predicted that everybody would forget about them five days after their report of policy mush was released.
That prediction was essentially accurate, but now the ISG looks to rear its ugly, mushy head again.
While many in the punditocracy treated the ISG report as a repudiation of the Bush Administration's policy goals (becuase it dared to endorse basic diplomacy), LiberalOasis always stressed that the report did not repudiate the ultimate neoconservative policy goal: a permanent military presence in Iraq.
This is the danger of mush.
It seduces people to read into it what they want to see, giving political cover to those in power who hold opposite, detrimental views.
Domenici's statement makes plain how he and others are looking to use the ISG to give political cover to permanent occupation. In describing his support for the ISG Bill, he says:
The bill is intended to create conditions that could allow for a drawdown of American combat forces in Iraq by March 2008. Under S.1545, the U.S. military could maintain a long-term but more limited presence in Iraq--focused on protecting American personnel and interests...
Just as Lugar supports "some level of American military presence in Iraq" in part to "protect oil flows," Domenici supports a "long-term but more limited presence in Iraq" in part to protect American "interests."
Domenici is using the Iraq Study Group to bolster his case for continuing the occupation policy. And not inaccurately.
That's what you get when you want bipartisan policy for bipartisanship's sake.
The ISG was bipartisan. This bill is bipartisan. But who cares if the bill won't actually scrap the current destabilizing policy objectives of occupation.
We must set a clear standard for what constitutes an actual change in course: a policy objective of fully ending the occupation. Otherwise, disengenuous attempts to appear critical of war may dupe the electorate.
There could be variations of how we acheive our preferred goal, which are worth debating.
There can be variations on the timing of redeployment. There can be variations in what might replace an American-dominated troop presence.
But the policy objective of ending occupation must be credible and unequivocal, to change the political dynamic and remove obstacles to successful diplomatic engagement with Iraqi factions and Iraq's neighbors.
And, of course, it always should be stressed that redeployment wouldn't happen in a vacuum, but would work in tandem with deeper diplomatic and ecomonic engagement.
Domenici and his GOP bretheren aren't backing such a plan. They do not want to end the occupation. And that's the bottom line.