Saturday, January 06, 2007

Dems oppose escalation

It's a whole lot easier to rev up for pressuring Congress when it's a matter of holding them to a position they've taken rather than trying to drag them into the general vicinity of the right approach.

The choices in Iraq are narrowing. All but a distinct minority understand that no 'victory' is possible. Bush, Cheney, McCain, Lieberman and their 30% claque are for escalating; everyone else is for some version of getting out.

For once, Democratic leaders are speaking up with and for the people. Here are some highlights of yesterday's letter from Reid and Pelosi to Bush opposing his escalation plan:

No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. ... [W]e believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months ... A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement.

In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq.
There's room for improvement, sure, but they're facing in the right direction. Help push them forward: Come to DC on January 27 for the demo and/or January 29 for the lobby day.


Haditha report

On Saturdays, the front page of the Washington Post often features stories and pictures of a kind not set so boldly before its powerful readers on other days of the week. Today: the massacre in Haditha.

The Post acquired the Naval Criminal Investigative Service report that led to the recent charges of murder and coverup against eight Marines.

One major revelation is that Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the squad leader, was the one who shot the five men who had the misfortune to arrive on the scene in a taxi just after a roadside bomb killed a Marine and wounded two others. The screaming squad members ordered them out, and Wuterich shot them one by one "as they stood, unarmed, next to the vehicle approximately ten feet in front of him."



Thursday, January 04, 2007

Feeding frenzy

Watching Jim Webb and Jon Tester taking the oath of office in the Senate today was cheering, even with The Penguin doing the swearing-in. [image at Raising Kaine]

But then I came across some news that cast a pall over everything:
The coming supplemental [Pentagon funding request] is being used by the military services for more than replacing what has been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is being used to acquire future weapons that normally would be funded through the regular Pentagon budget.

An October directive from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England opened the floodgates by allowing the services to request emergency funds to replace equipment and upgrade to newer models for the "overall efforts related to the global war on terror," not just operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's a feeding frenzy," says an army official involved in budget planning. "Using the supplemental budget, we're now buying the military we wish we had."
An October directive, eh? The regime's idea is clearly that Congressional Democrats won't be willing to cut or oppose the supplemental for fear of being thought not to "support the troops" -- no matter how bloated it is.

I wish I thought the bastards were wrong about that.

Update: 12:05 am 6 January - Wonder where they get that idea? Maybe from the bold, principled stance of fearless leader Kos:
Democrats and the growing ranks of war-weary Republicans can pass whatever legislation they want, Bush will just thumb [his] nose at them and the public. And short of pulling funding -- which would get more people killed -- there's little that Congress can actually do.
[D]on't fret that Congressional Dems can't unilaterally get us out of that mess. That power is vested in the president. But the bigger the mess Republicans make of the war, the bigger our victories in 2008. And if we make those big gains in Congress and the White House, ending this war will be tops on our 2009 agenda.
Thankfully, his commenters aren't buying. What's Kos thinking? Imagine a recently elected member of Congress making this 'we're helpless, but just wait until 2009' pitch to fend off pressure from the people who elected her to end the war.

We will hear a lot of the paralyzing myth that opposing further funding will hurt the troops. Dean Baker dispels it: [my emphasis]
Congress has the authority to require the top military commanders in Iraq to produce a plan for safely withdrawing our troops from the country. It can also require these commanders to give their best estimate of the cost of this plan. It can then appropriate this money, specifying that the funds be used for the withdrawal plan designed by the military.

President Bush would then have the funding required to safely withdraw our troops from Iraq. He would not have the money to continue his war. If he chose to defy Congress by misusing the funds (and thereby jeopardizing the lives of our troops), then the law provides a simple and obvious remedy: Impeachment.

Reasonable arguments could be made that this sort of decisive measure from Congress is not desirable. It could be argued that allowing President Bush more discretion in the conduct of the war would be the better route. But it is important to understand that Congress does have the authority to shut down the war without abandoning our troops. If Congress does not pursue this option, then it is because it has chosen not to. President Bush cannot continue to wage a war in Iraq if Congress is really determined to stop him.