Iraq Policy and the 2006 Election
David Sanger notes that those calling for a rapid withdrawal from Iraq seem strangely silent now that the election is over and the anti-Iraq side won convincingly.
To some degree, this is a function of the institutional arrangements of our government. In a parliamentary system, a sweep in the legislature yields a new prime minister and cabinet and, generally, rather swift policy changes. Our system, with its separation of powers, tends to change much more gradually.
Furthermore, elections seem to have surprisingly little impact in matters of foreign policy. Franklin Roosevelt won re-election in 1940 pledging to keep us out of the war in Europe and then did everything he could to get us in. Richard Nixon got elected in 1968 touting a secret plan to get us out of Vietnam with honor; he finally got us out in his second term, minus the honor. Bill Clinton lambasted George Bush the Elder’s policies toward China and Haiti in 1992 and then continued them for the eight years of his administration. George W. Bush ran against nation building in 2000 and, well, you know how that turned out.