We can’t continue to pursue an Iraq policy based on fairy tales and rose-colored glasses.
--Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois)
Mr. Bush still wants his blank check. On Tuesday, at an address in The Rose Garden, Bush said that "…to succeed in their mission, our troops need Congress to provide the resources, funds, and equipment they need to fight our enemies."
It has now been 57 days since I requested that Congress pass emergency funds for our troops. Instead of passing clean bills that fund our troops on the front lines, the House and Senate have spent this time debating bills that undercut the troops, by substituting the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of our commanders on the ground, setting an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal from Iraq, and spending billions of dollars on pork barrel projects completely unrelated to the war.
For four years, covered by the umbrella of a compliant Republican Congress, Mr. Bush and his commanders on the ground flopped and twitched their way through the Mesopotamia Mistake. Now, he calls the Democrats in Congress "irresponsible" for trying to recover his countless end-zone fumbles.
Mr. Bush's failures in Iraq are not the fault of Congress, or the media, or whatever scapegoat his Rovewellians find handy at any given moment. They're the fault of Mr. Bush and his inner circle of neoconservatives. Lamentably, that cabal--which includes names like Kristol, Kagan and yes, Cheney--is the same gang that came up with his "surge" plan.
It would be the height of irresponsibility for Congress to now let Bush and his ideologues continue to have their way.
Surge and Purge
Mr. Bush once again threatened to veto any emergency war-spending bill that puts limits on him or his "commanders." We don't know what that bill will look like yet--the House and Senate will have to craft a joint resolution that will pass in both chambers before they send it to the Oval Office. It's a good bet, though, that it will say something to the effect of Okay, you can have what you need to conduct your surge, but you have a limited amount of time to make it work.
And perhaps the less time they give the surge, the better. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric, has rejected a U.S. backed proposal to let former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to return to government service. That's likely to play hell on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's reunification program.
Pray the Course
We continue to pour troops and national treasure into a situation for which there is no military solution. Congress will tell Mr. Bush he can have his money for the surge plan, but Maliki's government will have to do certain thing and Bush has to start yanking U.S. troops out of Iraq by a certain date. Mr. Bush will veto the bill because it restricts his actions and accuse Congress of not supporting the troops. This silly game will go on until somebody blinks.
I'm also not entirely sure what Mr. Bush's real objection is. Our land forces can only sustain this escalation for a finite period. If it works, we can redeploy. If it doesn't work, we'll have to redeploy. In either case, we'll wind up doing something in 2008 that looks very much like what Congressman Jack Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) proposed in 2005.
Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) said on MSNBC Thursday that he thinks Mr. Bush will eventually back down. I wish I could be that optimistic. Mr. Bush isn't known for his stellar cognitive skills. His talk and his thinking seem to originate from somewhere below his belt.
Pots and Kettles
During his Rose Garden speech, he said, "Democrat leaders in Congress seem more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than in providing our troops what they need to fight the battles in Iraq."
Body armor. Vehicle armor. Four years of failed strategy rubber stamped by his "Republic" Congress, of standing behind failed generals and a failed Secretary of Defense. Walter Reed. Yeah, Mr. Bush. It's the Democrats in Congress who haven't been providing the troops what they need. Yeah, it's the Democrats who are fighting political battles and not supporting the troops.
I’m glad to see that the Democratic leadership is holding fast, and hope they keep it up. Somebody needs to put this Pandora Presidency back in its box.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.