Sunday, February 18, 2007

Democrats on Iraq

This week, Hillary Clinton has called for a pull out from Iraq within 90 days. No word yet whether or not Congress will cut funds. Probably not.

Senator Chuck Schumer boldy stated:

“There will be resolution after resolution, amendment after amendment . . . just like in the days of Vietnam,” Schumer said. “The pressure will mount, the president will find he has no strategy, he will have to change his strategy and the vast majority of our troops will be taken out of harm’s way and come home.”
Representative Jack Murtha offered his "slow bleed" plan:

Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat who oversees defense appropriations, has said he would seek to block new deployments by requiring troops to meet a series of conditions and training guidelines. A day before the vote, he presented his plan in a 24-minute broadcast on, a Web sitededicated to ending the war.
As Decision 08 noted, both the New York Times and Washington Post strongly criticized Murtha's plan:

Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. ...So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill... rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. "What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with," he said.

Mr. Murtha's cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq "would be more stable with us out of there," in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce "massive civilian casualties." He says he wants to force the administration to "bulldoze" the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to "get our troops out of the Green Zone" because "they are living in Saddam Hussein's palace"; could he be unaware that the zone's primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?

The New York Times continues the same thread:

We fear that clever maneuvers like the one proposed by Representative John Murtha, reportedly with the backing of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to dress up a reduction in troop strength as a “support the troops” measure won’t help contain the war or make American troops safer. Mr. Murtha would link this year’s war financing to the Pentagon’s adoption of new deployment rules, including longer stretches from the battlefield for returning troops, more specialized training and better defensive equipment. That would let representatives cast a politically safe vote for financing the war, while forcing the Pentagon to gradually reduce the number of active duty troops available to serve in Iraq.

This page has advocated many of the same reforms — but not as a back-door way of forcing lower troop numbers in Iraq. Congress’s overriding goal must be to find the most responsible way to extricate American troops from what is becoming an increasingly unwinnable war, while trying to contain the suffering and minimizing the damage to American interests in the region.

However, Maureen Dowd warns Democrats: "Dems Risk Image Woes Over Iraq War Moves"

Still, the small but vocal band of lawmakers led by Kucinich who are pushing for an immediate cutoff of war funding and withdrawal of troops could pose a problem. Democrats could suffer politically if the party is perceived by the public as being too quick to pull the plug on the mission.

Lawrence Haas, former communications Director for Al Gore, echoed that warning in The Examiner:

But, in playing to their anti-war political base, congressional Democrats are pushing party orthodoxy on foreign policy further to the left. After a two-year campaign, any successful Democratic candidate for president may wind up with little leeway to project U.S. power abroad.

The Democrats are on a slippery slope. They are now fighting a war on multiple fronts; supporting the troops, conducting oversight, placating the anti-war base, pushing for a withdrawl, and, ostensibly, helping protect the country from terrorism. That's a lot of wars to be fighting at once.

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