Republican Senators Call For End to Iraq War, But Only After Bush Leaves Office
The International Herald Tribune reports:
A small group of Republicans facing election fights next year have rallied around war legislation they think could unite the party: Call for an end to U.S. combat in Iraq, but wait until President George W. Bush is almost out of office.
The majority Democrats deemed the proposal a nonstarter and underscored on Friday the difficulty Congress has in striking a bipartisan compromise about the war. What attracts Democrats has repelled Republicans and vice versa, making it impossible so far to find middle ground.
"I don't support it at all," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "It doesn't do anything."Now exactly who is it that's playing politics?
The proposal, by Republican Sen. George Voinovich, would require that Bush change the mission of U.S. troops from combat to primarily support roles, such as training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. infrastructure in Iraq. His legislation would set a goal of completing such a mission transition within 15 months.
If enacted immediately, that timeline would not kick in until Bush's last couple of weeks in office.
"That's very courageous," Reid quipped when a reporter asked him Friday about the proposal.Every budget request that Bush has sent to Congress has been granted...and then some.
Co-sponsors of the bill include Sen. Lamar Alexander, Elizabeth Dole and Norm Coleman, all Republicans. Of the sponsors, only Voinovich is not up for re-election in 2008.
In response to Reid's rejection, a Voinovich spokesman said the senator "will continue to work for a bipartisan, nonpolitical compromise so our nation finally speaks with one voice."
Likewise, Alexander said the country is ready for consensus on the war.
"It is inexcusable for the Senate to keep lecturing Baghdad about being in a political stalemate when we continue to be stuck in our own political stalemate on Iraq," he said in an e-mailed statement Friday.
The Senate is in the midst of wrapping up debate on a $672 billion (€474 billion) defense policy bill that would authorize more than a one-half trillion dollars (€350 billion) in annual defense spending and $150 billion (€106 billion) for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including $23 billion (€16 billion) added for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.
Democrats are afraid that if they refuse to give Bush the money to fund the war, they will be blamed when the troops lose their lives and limbs because they didn't have MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles). But the troops not having MRAPs isn't the fault of Democrats or Congress. Congress has paid for them in past budgets, but they haven't gotten to Iraq. Over four years into this war and the few that have gotten to Iraq go to the private contractors and not the troops. Consider that during WWII, our newly industrialized labor force, where women were pressed into service to reproduce the ships and planes that the Japanese destroyed in Pearl Harbor, completed one B24 bomber every 63 minutes. As a matter of fact, within one decade (of December 7, 1941), Americans rebuilt the Navy's arsenal, won the war in the European and Pacific theaters, and went on to rebuild all of Europe and a good part of Japan and the Phillipines.
The bill, on track to be passed on Monday, also would make it easier for Iraqi refugees to apply for U.S. visas. An amendment by Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, adopted on Thursday, would provide 5,000 special immigrant visas each year for five years; the new visas would be given to Iraqis who fear retribution because they worked for the U.S. government in Iraq.Republicans aren't willing to tie their hands in 9 months, but they are willing to do it in 15-months. This is yet one more verification that this war is a fraud, a scam, and these politicians are as guilty of war crimes as Bush and Cheney are.
Senate Democrats tried to attach legislation ordering an end to combat but repeatedly failed to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome parliamentary hurdles.
Sen. Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he worked closely with Voinovich until late Thursday in the hopes of striking a compromise. Levin wants to set the goal in nine months, but acknowledges he lacks the votes to pass it.
After Voinovich suggested extending the goal to 15 months, Democratic support dissipated, said Levin.
"To try to put this off until after the election, rather than a reasonable period of completion, I believe would be to unnecessarily introduce a political element to what is a bipartisan effort," he said.
Voinovich, Alexander and Coleman have been outspoken critics of Bush's war strategy, citing voter frustration with what they say seems an open-ended military commitment in Iraq. Coleman in particular has become a popular political target by anti-war groups hoping to replace him with a Democratic candidate willing to demand troop withdrawals.
But each of the Republican senators has rejected Democratic legislation that includes a timetable for troop withdrawals, contending they do not want to tie the hands of military generals and a wartime president.
While the defense policy bill approves war spending for next year, it does not guarantee it; Bush will have to wait for Congress to pass a separate appropriations bill that transfers money to the military's coffers.This revelation alone should end the careers of the co-sponsors, Senators Voinovich, Dole, Coleman and Alexander.
Democratic leaders say the recent passage of a stopgap spending bill that funds the Pentagon at 2007 levels gives the military enough money to keep the war going for a few more months. A spending bill to pay for combat through next September might not be passed until early next year, officials said.
This legislation exposes problems for both sides of the aisle. Democrats don't come off looking any better, and brings to mind that old joke alleged to have happened to George Bernard Shaw and a woman he'd encountered at a dinner party.
"Madam," he said, "would you sleep with me for one million pounds?"Republicans are willing to let American soldiers die for the sake of their individual careers, Republican party unity and overall loyalty to George W. Bush. Both Republicans and Democrats demonstrate with this legislation that they'd be willing to lie to their constituents and kick the can down the road (again) in order to get reelected. And since this past week's Democratic debate at Dartmouth, the top leading contenders for the Democratic nomination (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards) have all stated that should one of them become president, the U.S. is in Iraq for (Cheney's) 'long war' - at least through 2013, which was as far down the road as the debate's moderater (Tim Russert) kicked that particular question. The only candidates who pledged to bring the troops out were Dennis Kucinich (within 3 months of his inauguration), Bill Richardson (within one year of his inauguration), Mike Gravel (explains how to do it now, with a Democratically controlled Congress committed to ending the war despite not having 60 votes) and Chris Dodd (one to two brigades a month).
The woman replied, "I most certainly would!"
"Would you sleep with me for one pound?" Shaw asked.
"What sort of woman do you take me for?" she answered angrily.
"We've already established that," said Shaw. "Now we're just dickering over the price."
I was about to skip over Joe Biden, as he's neither in the top tier of Democratic candidates nor is he pledging to bring the troops out of Iraq (or ending the war) by 2013, but that isn't how things are done here at The Constant American: "When citizens are fully informed, they share liberals' opinions and voting records."
The Democratic presidential candidates at Wednesday's debate at Dartmouth on getting the troops out of Iraq and ending the war: