Revolt Builds Against Bush’s Iraq Policy

January 25, 2007

From Viewpoint. Amazingly enough, they inserted an advertisement for Ginsu Knives between the sections. What are they trying to say, hmmmm??!

Revolt Builds Against Bush’s Iraq Policy
by Jim Lobe

In the first step toward what some believe could eventually
lead to a constitutional crisis, a key Congressional
committee approved a nonbinding resolution here Wednesday
formally dissenting from President George W. Bush’s plan
to send some 21,000 more troops to Iraq.

The 12-9 vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
which came less than 14 hours after Bush appealed in his
State of the Union address for Congress to give his plan
“a chance to work,” sets the stage for a broader debate
next week when a majority of the full Senate is also
expected to voice its disapproval of the president’s
course, albeit possibly in a somewhat milder form.

Wednesday’s resolution, which drew the backing of all the
Democrats on the Committee, as well as its one Republican
cosponsor, Sen. Chuck Hagel, declared that deepening US
military involvement in Iraq at this time is “not in the
national interest of the United States.”

“It’s an attempt to save the president from making a
significant mistake with regard to our policy in Iraq,”
said the committee’s new chairman and the principal author
of the resolution, Sen. Joseph Biden, who also insisted
that, despite its timing, it was “not an attempt to
embarrass the president (or) to demonstrate (his)
isolation.”

But, less than 24 hours after Bush’s appearance before both
houses of Congress and a glittering array of other top US
officials and the foreign diplomatic corps under the
Capitol dome, most analysts agreed that he probably made
very few, if any, converts and that the Congress, including
a growing number of Republicans, is likely to move over
the coming weeks to try to force a change in US policy.

“We think Congress is going to pass this or a similar
resolution and then move to a vigorous debate over how to
use its powers under the constitution to impose its will,”
said Jim Cason, an analyst at the Friends Committee on
National Legislation (FCNL), an antiwar lobby group.

“What’s driving this in part is that the growing perception
that Bush is clinging stubbornly to a failed policy,
convinced that he’s right and completely unwilling to
consider major alternatives such as the (bipartisan) Iraq
Study Group (ISG) report (that called for a gradual
withdrawal of US combat troops over the next 15 months).
People are getting really angry and worried about that.”

Indeed, mainstream US media coverage of Bush’s State of the
Union address, while careful to balance the critics with
the president’s supporters, underlined the degree to which
support for Iraq policy – already near record-lows –
appears to have plunged even further over the past few
weeks and that opposition to what is called Bush’s “surge”
of troops into Iraq has risen sharply.

This was highlighted Monday when the ranking Republican on
the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, presented
his own bipartisan resolution that, while somewhat softer
in tone than the one approved by the Foreign Relations
Committee, stated flatly that the Senate “disagrees with
the ‘plan’ to augment our forces (in Iraq) by 21,500.”

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“The American G.I. (soldier) was not trained, not sent over
there – certainly not by resolution of this institution –
to be placed in the middle of a fight between the Sunni
and the Shia and the wanton and incomprehensible killing
that’s going on at this time,” Warner, whose ties to the
military brass are perhaps the strongest of any sitting
senator, told reporters in announcing his proposal.

“Mr. President, go back and look at all the options,”
declared Warner in what to most Capitol Hill veterans was
seen as a highly unusual departure from his normal courtly
and aristocratic mien. His candor was evidence of a growing
exasperation that has been coursing through Republican
ranks since the party lost control of Congress in last
November’s elections and particularly over the last two
weeks since he announced his plans to add to the 132,000
US troops already in Iraq.

Indeed, in recent days, public opinion surveys have shown
that confidence in Bush’s handling of Iraq is at record
lows and that his overall approval ratings have reached
their nadir – in some cases within just a few percentage
points of the level former President Richard Nixon reached
just before his resignation. The most recent polls have
also shown that a growing majority has greater confidence
in Congress’ judgment about what to do in Iraq than the
roughly 30 percent who believe the administration can do
a better job.

Biden, Hagel and the other cosponsors of the resolution
approved by the Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday have
made clear that they hope to sit down with Warner and his
cosponsors over the coming week to determine whether they
can come up with a common bill that would command the
broadest possible bipartisan support.

Warner’s resolution, which is more deferential toward
Bush’s war-making powers as “commander-in-chief” than
Biden’s, is also more specific in defining rules of
engagement for US forces in Iraq in ways that would
reduce their role in policing or intervening in sectarian
violence. It also prescribes more specific benchmarks for
the Iraqi government to meet in order to maintain high
levels of US military and economic aid and calls for
Washington to become more engaged in regional efforts to
contain and reduce the ongoing violence in Iraq.

The resolution is indeed based on many of the
recommendations submitted last month by the ISG, whose
co-chairs, former Secretary of State James Baker and
former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, and other members
have been quietly lobbying Congress since Bush quickly
rejected key parts of their report – notably reducing
the US combat role in Iraq and engaging Syria and Iran
in regional stabilization efforts.

Biden and Hagel have also expressed strong disappointment
at Bush’s failure to embrace the ISG’s recommendations,
so a compromise between the two factions – which together
would command the support of all but one Democrat and at
least a dozen of the Senate’s Republicans – is likely.

As both resolutions are not binding on Bush, who has
already indicated that he will proceed with his “surge”
regardless of what Congress does, however, the big question
here is: what happens after their approval?

Led by Sen. Russell Feingold, a fast-growing minority of
Democrats has said they will back legislation cutting off
all funds for the war if Bush does not heed Congressional
opinion, while others, including several presidential
candidates, such as Biden, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen.
Barack Obama, say Congress should impose limits on the
number of troops who can be deployed to Iraq or strict
conditions on how and when and for what purposes money
appropriated by Congress can be spent in the war, which
is currently costing the US Treasury roughly eight billion
dollars a month.

While precedents for these kinds of congressional actions
were established in the 1970s and 1980s, the Bush White
House – and particularly Vice President Dick Cheney’s
office – is likely to resist any such constraints on the
grounds that they believe that the president’s power to
wage war as commander-in-chief is virtually unlimited. In
their view, the only way that Congress can legally limit
that power is for it to cut off all funding.

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