Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Iraq: Congress Steps Up to the Plate

The fight over the war spending bill is drawing to a head. The Senate is scheduled to vote on Thursday on a joint resolution that will give Mr. Bush his $124 billion in war spending but will call for a U.S. troop withdrawal timeline for Iraq. Mr. Bush, of course, likes the $124 billion, but has threatened to veto any bill that contains timelines.

Mr. Bush talks about wanting to "work with the Democrats" on finding a "way forward" in Iraq, but what he really means is that he wants Congress to give him whatever he wants the way it did for six years under a Republican majority. As far as he's concerned, it's his way forward or the highway.

On Tuesday, Messrs. Bush and Cheney accused congressional Democrats of political opportunism. Mr. Bush said, "Instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders chose to further delay funding our troops, and they chose to make a political statement. That’s their right. But it is wrong for our troops and it’s wrong for our country.”

Mr. Bush should know full well what's wrong for our troops and our country. He's been doing what's wrong for years. Unfortunately, there's little indication that he's learned from his mistakes, or that he actually understands that he's made any.

Cheney lashed out at Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). “What’s most troubling about Senator Reid’s comments yesterday is his defeatism,” he said, referring to Reid's assertion that Bush is in denial about the situation in Iraq and that the war has been lost militarily. “And the timetable legislation that [Reid] is now pursuing would guarantee defeat. Maybe it is a political calculation.”

Bush and Cheney have both demonstrated over a considerable period of time that they couldn't find their way forward with a map and a flashlight. Timetable legislation will not "guarantee" defeat. If anything, timetables may be the key to getting Iraq's parliament off its collective ennui, order the sectarian militias to stand down, and make the kinds of compromises needed to form a true central government.

Last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Pentagon reporters that "The debate in Congress . . . has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited," and that "The strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable probably has had a positive impact . . . in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment."

If the threat of imposed timelines is having a "positive impact," imagine how effective the reality of legislated timelines will be.

Still Going

All the Federales say, they could've had him any day
They only let him slip away, out of kindness I suppose.

-- Willie Nelson

The tallest Arab ever wanted dead or alive by a U.S. president is still at large, and by some accounts he's not only alive and well, he's still running the show. On Al Jazeera television, Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah claimed that Osama bin Laden is orchestrating militant actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the February 27 attack on the U.S. base in Bagram during Dick Cheney's visit to Afghanistan.

We don't necessarily want to accept a claim made by a Taliban leader on Al Jazeera at face value. It's sad to say, however, that the likes of Dadullah are at least as credible as the likes of Bush and Cheney.

"Stay the Course" and "Last Throes" don't have a clue what they're talking about. They never did. Their conduct of the Iraq war and the war on terror in general has been an abomination. Why anyone still takes anything they say seriously is a sad commentary on the contemporary American body politic, but that's the way it goes. In a country this size, there always be a permanent core of lemmings eager to chug the grape flavored brainwash gushing from the Big Brother Broadcast.

Hopefully, the Democratic Congress will be able to put the lunatics back in their boxes, and lead this country back to the kind of sanity the majority of Americans mandated in November 2006.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Anonymous11:30 PM

    Or we could simply impeach them. In order to let Nancy Pelosi know that you support Dennis Kicinich's impeachment bill for Cheney (HR333), call 202-225-0100. You would also do well to contact your Representative and Senators.


  2. Hey, we haven't had a Major Terra Alert in quite some time -- all this talk of impeachment will probably bring one out to disrupt the news cycle, er, embolden the Terr'ists to action, if we're not patriotic enough to keep clapping louder...

  3. Two things:

    - I had (very much past tense) hoped that impeachment would not be a feature of the current administration lest we fall into a habit of it. But the current administration's behavior clearly rises well above lying about a blow job.

    - The last thing the current administration wants is for their favorite boogeyman, to wit, one Osama Bin Laden, to be taken in custody or killed. Who would there be to frighten us with then?

  4. EdNSted11:50 AM


    Your sources have likely already brought this opinion piece by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling in the Armed Forces Journal to your attention, but I thought I'd mention it. It's currently getting noticed at some other blogs:

    A failure in generalship


  5. Found this from a comment at Juan Cole's: Iraq’s WMD myth: why Clinton is culpable.

    So, not only was the Iraq intelligence bad/cooked/outright fabricated -- it was all Clinton's fault, too! Sure, why not, it's possible, he's to blame for everything that's ever happened...

    Hey, if it's the beginning of bringing the troops home from Iraq, they can blame it all on me.

  6. Ed and Jeff,

    Thanks for the links.

  7. Bacon's Rebellion1:16 PM


    The following article by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling is a very thoughtful and incisive one in which he points out the failures of the current and past senior military leadership, which are in many ways responsible for the debacle that we are presently facing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of what he says will have been obvious for a long time to those with previous military experience. However, I would certainly recommend its reading by anyone seeking a better understanding of how we have arrived where we are and what might be done in the future to correct the problems associated with our senior military leadership.

    If I were to offer any criticism of what Yingling has to say it would be in the realm of why our current political system makes the reforms that he suggests almost impossible to implement or achieve.

    Our current political system, where genuine oversight by congressional committees is for the most part a bad joke, makes it far too easy to embark on foolish and ill conceived military adventures such as Iraq. Moreover, in a Congress that is far more concerned with retaining their own seats through pork barrel politics than the present and future security of the nation, it is difficult to envision its members wanting to confirm and promote flag officers whose duty and mission would be contrary to their own self-interests. A Congress and Executive Branch which insists on funneling huge amounts of the annual defense budget into unnecessary high tech junk and retaining military installations, which have long since ceased to be necessary, are not likely to be very receptive to advise against such programs from generals and admirals attempting to do what is best for the nation. It is therefore difficult to see how many of the key elements of what is suggested by Yingling can ever be achieved without a major reform in how our current form of government operates. The likelihood of that happening is very slight indeed.

    My criticisms notwithstanding, I would still highly recommend Lt. Col. Yingling's piece for your blog readers consideration.

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