Saturday, November 19

Congress goes Bizarro over Iraq

Yesterday Republicans attempted to head off serious debate of resolving the Iraq War by offerring a sham version of Rep Murtha's House Resolution to withdraw and redeploy our troops in Iraq into a fall back position "in six months".

To Recap.

Murtha's Public Statements:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the
coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.
Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces. To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines. To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

Murtha's resolution:

Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable
progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a
stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote
the emergence of a democratic government";

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U, S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency,

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified;

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that
continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the
United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which
were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and
stability in Iraq through diplomacy.
And here's the GOP "rewrite":


Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately. Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
After first having a fight on whether they would vote on the issue or not which ended with a 210-204 party-line split with Democrats and 6 Republicans opposed to voting on the GOP resolution, the GOP version of was eventually voted down 3 to 403, but not after a rather contentious debate...

Courtesy of the Stakeholder:

The Speaker Pro Tempore: The gentlelady from Ohio is recognized for one

Ms. Schmidt: Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bop, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body - that we will see this through.

[Note by kos -- the whole chamber went nuts at this point, with Democrats shouting and booing Schmidt down]

The Speaker Pro Tempore: The house will be in order. The house will be in order. The house will be in order. The house will be in order. The house will be in order. The gentlelady will suspend. And the clerk will report her words. All members will suspend. The gentleman from Arkansas has demanded that the gentlelady's words be taken down. The clerk will report the gentlelady's words.

The Speaker Pro Tempore: The house will be in order. Members pleas take seats. The gentlelady from Ohio.

Ms. Schmidt: Mr. Speaker, my remarks were not directed at any member of the House and I did not intend to suggest that they applied to any member. Most especially the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania. I therefore ask for unanimous consent that my words be withdrawn.

The Speaker Pro Tempore: Without objection. The gentlelady's words will be

From the AP:

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that it was an uncalled for personal attack. "You guys are pathetic. Pathetic," yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.

Now Jean Schmidt (R-OH) has only been in Congress for a few months after narrowling winning a special election in her district against Democratic challenger (and Iraq War veteran) Paul Hackett in one of the most staunchly Republican parts of the state. Hackett is now running for Senate in 2006 and is already polling ahead of the incumbent.

During much of the House discussion, many Republicans called the GOP version which called for "Immediate withdrawal" a Democrat bill - and even the AP seemed to have become confused between Congressman Murtha's bill and the GOP alternative which was submitted by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

Some posters on Powerlineblog have commented that the "immediate" line in the GOP version of the withdrawal resolution opposed by Democrats is a "Distinction without a diffence"- in doing so they ignore Murtha's comments in the Q/A with reporters where he describes that it should take "about six months" to complete his proposed redeployment, as well as his comments that the "immediacy" of the shift be performed at the "earliest practicable date" and "consistent with the safety of U.S. Forces".

Ok, those are the facts - but what does it all mean?

Apparently, the GOP now has almost every House Democrat on record as opposing an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Yeah, and? No one, other than the GOP themselves had even suggested such a thing - Murtha only suggested 6-month pull back of forces - the real question, which they managed to avoid, is what is our long term Iraq Policy? Why is it that after two years we still don't have more than a single operational Iraqi Brigade?

Besides denouncing the "Swift-boating" of John Murtha, John Kerry has also laid out his own plan for a phased draw down of American troops from Iraq following the successful completion of elections in December. In response, 79 members of the Senate voted for an amendment to a pending bill stating that: 2006 should be "a period of significant transition" in which Iraqi security forces take the lead in protecting their citizens, creating conditions for a "phased" withdrawal of U.S. forces.

So the battle now is between leaving immediately or having a planned/phased reduction in U.S. forces in conjuction with a ramp-up of Iraqi forces. It's seems clear to me that we can't simply "cut and run" - but that the only thing continuing to hold our forces in Iraq, making them a target and instigator for the continued insurgency, is the complete and abject failture of the Bush Administration to get the Iraqi Forces trained and deployed. It should be a given that as Iraq's own military comes online, our forces should step back and be redeployed away from the front and into the rear areas.

But this isn't happening - and the real question is why not?

We shouldn't have these temper tantrams happening in Congress, we shouldn't have to wonder what's going on or what the plan is. The argument that stating our plans would embolden the terrorist to simply "wait it out" is ridiculous if they know that what would be in place to greet them once the waiting is over is a well-trained, strong and effective Iraqi Military.

The only way for them to realize that is for them to get to know the Iraqi Army now - right now - not simply wait until some far off day to yank our forces out and then plug in a bunch of inexperienced semi-trained Iraqis. That scenario would be exactly the "Recipe for Disaster" that the President is talking about - and no-one, except the House Republicans seem to be putting that idea on the table.



REB 84 said...


I read your post on John Conyer's Blog. Thank you for fleshing out the details and highlighting the true nature of what Rep. Murtha was proposing. It should be clear to any observer that "staying the course" is empty rhetoric. Has anyone in the Bush administration even stated their plans. How can America continue to allow such incompetence?

REB 84

Vyan said...

Well, I think their plan is to wait -- and wait and... well, wait. But seriously, the rhetoric is that we first need to have the Iraqi government stand on it's feet, and then begin to take control and responsiblity for the their own military. Once that's done -- whenever that is -- we'll be theoretically free to leave. Or at least pull back to the 14 permanent bases that we've established in the region.

On the surface, I don't disagree with that plan -- except that we've already been training the Iraqi Military for the last two years, and pardon me but isn't doesn't basic training only take a dozen or so weeks? So what's the big freaking problem?


WildBill said...

How many Iraqis will willingly fight and die against the insurgency when they know there are American soldiers there who will do it instead? I say give them a timeline to take charge and standup for themselves and do it ASAP because by the end of Feb, 06 we are pulling out. There probably will be violence whether we're there or not. But Americans won't be the targets any longer.

Vyan said...

Absolutely, the Iraqi Troops won't fully stand up until we stand down... But it is possible to do this in stages, rather than all at once. We could move them in and our troops out in specific areas and cities such as Mosul or Tikrit -- and gradually let them get their legs underthem and build-up a reputation of competence.