Murtha Predicts U.S. out of Iraq by 2007

Rep. John Murtha, touted by the press as a hawk although he has been an Iraq War opponent from the beginning, predicts that politics will force us out of Iraq this year and that the Democrats will win the House in a landslide similar to 1974 and 1994.

Either President Bush will bow to public opinion or Democrats will have won control of the House of Representatives and increased pressure on the White House, Murtha, D-Pa., said in an Associated Press interview Thursday. Most likely, there will be a “tidal wave” that propels Democrats into the majority, said Murtha. He predicts Democrats will gain 40-50 seats — well more than the 15 needed for the party to gain control.

Murtha, 73, a retired Marine colonel who has generally been hawkish on war issues, shocked Washington in November when he said the war could not be won and it was time for troops to come home. He offered a plan that would keep troops in the region in case of a national security emergency.

“Generally hawkish on war issues” is an interesting sleight of hand that disguises the fact that he has been against this war from the beginning.

Murtha was elected in 1974, when public outrage over the Watergate scandal and President Nixon swept Democrats into office. He compared this election year to that of 1974 and to 1994, when the GOP rolled into power — partly because of discontent with President Clinton. “Republicans are spinning the fact that it’s going to be very hard. From my experience in ’74 and ’94, they can’t stop it … even if they did something dramatic,” Murtha said.

1974 was the first post-Watergate, post-Vietnam election. It was sui generis. 1994 was a perfect storm of retirements owing to radical changes in campaign finance laws, corruption among the Democratic leadership, dissatisfaction with the domestic policies of the president, and a bold competing vision by the opposition party. We lack several of those elements now. We have also elevated gerrymandering to an art form.

Murtha said he thinks President Bush would have to bring more than half the troops in Iraq back to the United States before election day for it to start to make a difference to voters. “If that happens, he would have to admit he made mistakes,” Murtha said. “The biggest problem he has had is admitting he made a mistake in going in there in the first place.”

It’s almost inconceivable we’ll move that rapidly in troop withdrawals, although I think we’ll be down to a long-term presence in our Forward Operating Bases by the beginning of the 2008 election cycle.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. You left out the culmination of the gradual move from democrat to republican in the south and west that was part of 1994.