Tuesday, March 06, 2007

That was the week that will be

So this is it, yes? This is the week that the brave, bold, energized Democrats in Congress are going to stand up and be counted! They are going to bare their legislative teeth and show Shrub who's boss on Iraq! So let's see how things are shaping up.

First, House Democrats are proposing to
more than fully fund President George W. Bush's request for money to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year....

"There will be $98 billion for the military part," about $5 billion above the Bush administration's request, said Rep. John Murtha, chairman of a defense spending panel overseeing war funds.
Okay, we're not off to a good start. By the way, this was before the White House said it might want another two billion to cover support troops for the esca - I mean, "surge."

But don't worry! Murtha says the Democrats are still talking about restrictions based on requirements
that U.S. troops have proper training, adequate equipment and enough rest before being deployed into combat. "We don't have it yet. We keep going back and refining it," Murtha said.
So why do they have to keep going back, keep refining, keep fussing and negotiating and detailing and not doing? Because they're a bunch of crawling weasels, that's why.
When Murtha first unveiled his ideas two weeks ago he said he viewed his conditions, which also include an end to extending soldiers' enlistments to make up for manpower shortages, as a way of forcing Bush to wind down the war.

But in the face of Republican attacks, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders now speak of showing their support for the troops by ensuring levels of training and equipment. They also say they will never cut funds for troops in the field.
Ultimately, what they are trying to do is
find a compromise that allows them to say they are working to phase out the war while also fully funding troops already in Iraq.
The key word being "say."

In fact, the Democratic Congressional leadership, along with party "moderates" (who, cowering in fear of campaigns that haven't even begun, are whining that Murtha's proposals "go too far" and could "backfire" in 2008) are such whimpering losers that even a proposal by Sen. Kent Conrad to cut just $20 billion from the $142 billion request for the Iraq war for the next fiscal year, the one that doesn't even start until October 1, was shot down by that brave leader, Harry Reid.

Meanwhile, the Republicans, who - give the Devil his due - know how to play political hardball, are pressing the advantage such weak-kneed opposition presents.
House minority leader [John Boehner] threatened Thursday to get his members to vote against a $96.3 billion spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan if Democrats persist in plans to attach conditions to the money that would tell President Bush how to conduct the wars.
As Greg Sargent pointed out at TPMCafe with notable understatement, this is "interesting" since this is the same GOPper leadership which was just recently demanding that the House vote on a GOP resolution that would express opposition to any cuts in funding. But neither hypocrisy nor internal contradiction trouble them because they know that despite being in the minority, on this issue they still have the other side bamboozled and befuddled, begging for favors, cringing and wincing at any breath of "you don't support the troops."

Sargent also says, and AP echoes, that
House Democratic leaders have coalesced around legislation that would require troops to come home from Iraq within six months if that country's leaders fail to meet promises to help reduce violence there....

The plan would retain a Democratic proposal prohibiting the deployment to Iraq of troops with insufficient rest or training or who already have served there for more than a year. Under the plan, such troops could only be sent to Iraq if President Bush waives those standards and reports to Congress each time. ...

Bush said the Iraqis had promised to meet certain goals when he offered to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq. For example, the Iraqis pledged to spend more money on reconstruction and reach a political agreement to share the nation's oil resources.
That looks, initially, like a good "put up or shut up" strategy. But, like "say" earlier, "looks" is the key word. Add the modifying phrase "some closer" to "looks" and the idea of "good" gets all wobbly.

For one thing, which should be obvious, it makes the whole training/rest business meaningless, just pointless gum-flapping, since those "standards" can be waived at Bush's will. Is there anybody who doesn't think he not only would do so but would do so with a "Yeah? Whadda ya gonna do about it?" air?

And "promises?" "Meet goals?" What does that mean? Who decides if the Iraqi government is living up to such promises? We've had four years of "It's going great! It's going great! Well, actually, it's fucked up - but it's getting better! It's going great! It's going great! Well, actually it's fucked up - but it's getting better! It's going...." What makes anyone think that's going to stop? What makes anyone think that in six month's time, no matter how badly those promises are broken, the quivering invertebrates populating the Dimcrat leadership are not going to swoon when faced with "We can't abandon our allies now just when they're starting to make progress?"

Especially because even if it was somehow determined that the Iraqis failed to keep their end of the bargain,
some troops could be left behind under the Democrats' plan to train Iraqi troops or conduct counterterrorism missions....
This, I'm prepared to assume, was an embrace of another of the Iraq Study Group proposals; the figure for "some" troops there was estimated at 20,000 or more. Which means that under the strictest, the best if you will, reading of this bill, the Democrats' plan proposes to keeps tens of thousands of American troops in Iraq for an indefinite time. Which brings up the other problem:

This bill endorses the goddamn war!

In talking about going-on-for-who-knows-for-how-long "counterterrorism missions," it embraces the administration's bull that Iraq is the "central front in the War on Terror"copyright/reg./pat.pend.. In adopting benchmarks and baseline "promises," it swallows whole the heinous notion that the only thing wrong with the war, the invasion, the occupation, is that it didn't go as well as we were told it would, that the problem was only in the execution, not in the fact - such swallowing, I strongly suspect, being not too difficult an act for many of our "leaders."

But the war was wrong from the start, wrong through the middle, and will remain wrong at the end. Not mistaken, wrong. Not just wrong, corrupt. Not just politically corrupt, not just logically corrupt, morally corrupt. Ethically corrupt. An affront to decency and a crime against humanity, one conceived in greed and power lust, midwifed in lies, weaned on blood, and which has matured to torture, civil war, and carnage on a scale of which we are ignorant or we choose to ignore because it's too uncomfortable, to shameful, to think of all the victims beyond our own sufficiently painful damaged, destroyed, and dead.

And through this, one thing remains as true now as it has been all along, even as too many "serious" thinkers among the left part of the blogging world remain among the "none so blind." That is the simple hard fact that we cannot depend on the Democrats to get us out of this mess. They will not get us out of this mess. Even now, when the public wants out, when they know the public wants out, they still run like scared rabbits from any hint of actual (as opposed to purely symbolic) confrontation and still opt for saying and looking over doing, stopping a full three steps short of what the public desires.

We want out? We're going to have to make them do it. I have said this before and I say it again: What will stop this war is tens of thousands of pissed-off Americans in the streets, over and over again, in the streets of DC, of New York, of Indianapolis, of Albuquerque, of Minot and Montpelier, Walla Walla and Wheeling, screaming "Out NOW!" Screaming it until the walls of Congress rock. Screaming it until Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have headaches. Screaming it until a withdrawal in 90 days or 120 days is the safe, "compromise" position.

Short of that, the best we can hope for - the best we can hope for - is a war like Afghanistan has become: one that grinds slowly on, month after month, year after year, and death after death. Until, finally, it can said of us, if it cannot already, that "they have made a wasteland and call it peace."

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