Exit Strategy Chorus

Article excerpt

Byline: Arnold Beichman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

There is a terrific campaign under way in Congress, particularly among Democrats, who demand President Bush announce his "exit strategy" for the war in Iraq.

In fact, some Democrats insist any support for the war in Iraq hangs on whether President Bush has an "exit strategy" and is prepared to announce it right now. That set me thinking and researching American history to see if any other war president has been pressured to announce an "exit strategy."

Imagine if a member of the Continental Congress named Barnaby Boxer who on the day George Washington and his harried troops crossed the Delaware had demanded Washington announce his "exit strategy." Imagine a member of the Continental Congress declaring that this business about independence from Britain was a cover-up for lack of an "exit strategy" and insisting George Washington's war appropriations be withheld unless he immediately informed the Continental Congress of his "exit strategy."

A bitter debate would, of course, have ensued. By the time it was over, Gen. Charles Cornwallis would have made public his "exit strategy": surrender of the British Army at Yorktown Oct. 17, 1781.

I suppose one might say that during the early years of the Civil War demands were made on President Lincoln for his "exit strategy," notably by Clement Vallandigham, leader of the Copperheads in the Civil War. He argued the war was fought not to save the Union but to liberate the slaves and enslave the whites. Lincoln then demonstrated his "exit strategy" vis-a-vis Vallandigham, who was banished to the Confederacy.

It was quite clear to everybody, especially after the Gettysburg Address, that Lincoln's "exit strategy" was to save the Union and defeat the Confederacy.

I have searched high and low without success for somebody in or out of Congress who ever demanded of President Woodrow Wilson that he make public his "exit strategy" during the Great War. …