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March 27, 2007

On Deaf Ears

“...it is an awful irony of this debate that many of the same people who consistently and correctly call on the United States to do more to stop the bloodshed in Darfur now demand we abandon the Iraqis.”

“We hear that Sunnis and Shia have been fighting for centuries, and that no matter how tragic, we cannot possibly hope to resolve this conflict. We have heard these arguments before. We heard them in the 1990s about Yugoslavia. We heard them about Rwanda. Like the euphemism of “civil war,” it is another way for us to distance ourselves, emotionally and morally, from what is actually happening—and from the people it is happening to. It allows us to think of these places as a sort of abstract tragedy, in which there are no victims, just victimizers, whom we can walk away from with impunity… The wanton slaughter of innocent people that our soldiers are trying to stop in Baghdad is not the inevitable product of ancient hatreds, but the consequence of a deliberate, calculated strategy by an identifiable group of perpetrators—first and foremost, Al Qaeda.”

“I ask my colleagues: consider what it will mean if Congress orders our troops to pull back from this battle, just at the moment that they are taking the initiative. Consider the consequences if we knowingly and willingly withdraw our forces and abandon one of the few states in the Middle East to have held free, competitive elections to extremism and violence...”

“We cannot redeploy from our moral responsibility to the Iraqis. It is contrary to our traditions; it is contrary to our values; and it is contrary to our interests. And yet that is precisely what this Congress will be calling for, if we order our troops to withdraw.”

- Joseph Lieberman, addressing the United States Senate

Senator Lieberman, at least, has the courage of his convictions.

Yesterday there was some debate over the significance of the decision not to oppose language requiring troop withdrawals in the supplemental spending bill for Iraq. Some, including the blog princess, thought it unforgiveably weakened an already vulnerable White House. Others, including McQ and Ed Morrissey (two very astute and probably better informed bloggers than your hostess) disagreed, seeing the move as clever strategery from Senate Republicans. With all due respect, though the Princess claims no special insight into future events, she can't help noting Ed's commentary this morning:

Harry Reid won his most important victory as Senate Majority Leader today by unexpectedly passing the supplemental spending bill for Iraq with the mandatory timetables for withdrawal within 12 months. Two Senators, Ben Nelson and Chuck Hagel, reversed their stand on the automatic withdrawal from less than two weeks ago, when the Senate last considered it

Ah. So Senator McConnell cleverly manoevered Reid into winning his "most important victory as Senate Majority Leader". No wonder we were confused! By losing two marginal votes we had last week and handing the opposition an unexpected victory, we clearly improved our position. But wait! There's more!

Democratic leaders think the 50 to 48 victory greatly strengthens their negotiating position as they prepare to face down a White House that yesterday reiterated its threat of a presidential veto. The Senate vote was also the first time since Democrats took control of Congress in January that a majority of lawmakers have supported binding legislation to bring U.S. troops home.

Sure smells like victory to the editorial staff. That ought to make it much easier to keep the House bill from gaining traction in committee. And here we thought the Senate was supposed to operate as the cool, deliberate voice of reason against the hot-headed House of Representatives? So much for that theory. Ed continues:

What next? The President will definitely veto this bill, and the Democrats do not have anywhere near the votes needed to override. That means that Congress and the White House will have to reach some sort of compromise, or else theoretically allow the troops to remain in Iraq but without the funds to either fight or come home. If the President doesn't veto it, he has to start retreating in four months, to which he will not willingly assent. It will take weeks to unravel, and in that time I believe that Congress will work on a much smaller supplemental to keep funding going while the negotiations ensue. Reid, however, wants to wait until after the spring recess to start even on the conference committee talks, which will drag out the event even further.

Undoubtedly, Reid won big by declaring defeat. No one really expected this to pass, but Reid managed to talk Hagel and Nelson into reversing themselves, when even the ladies from Maine remained steadfast. He and Nancy Pelosi made it clear that the last election had its consequences, even if it took them several variations on the defeatist theme to do so.

It seems to us that several things have been made clear, the first of which is that someone miscalculated here. The second is that everything now depends on what happens in committee, and with an unexpected victory in the Senate the momentum has now passed to the Democrats. McQ has an excellent analysis of the House bill, which he believes will be adopted in committee. You should read the whole thing. The salient points are these:

1. The section limiting redeployment of units is, flatly stated, designed to cripple the surge by depriving General Petraeus of the troops he needs to carry out his mission. Pete Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to say about that provision recently:

"We would have 45-day gaps, which would mean that part of a territory would basically be vacated to the enemy and ... you would have to fight your way back in," Pace said.

In other words, your elected representatives are playing political games with the lives of our troops, and they will pay in blood. People will die pacifying Iraqi neighborhoods, then be forced to leave and the insurgents will come back. Then our troops will return and die trying to drive them out again while the Democrats complain that the war is unwinnable. Keep this in mind the next time you hear them talking about how they 'support the troops'. Sure they support us - they support our right to come home in body bags if it helps sweep them into office in 2008.

If they really 'supported the troops' they'd either demand an immediate troop withdrawal now and face the consequences at the ballot box (face it, there is no reason for another American to die if they don't intend us to win this war, and when you read this bill, it becomes quite plain that is the one thing the Democratic Party will not countenance) or honor up and get behind the surge.

2. The bill is full of hard and fast troop withdrawal deadlines designed to prevent any chance that we might win. Even if we show progress and achieve the mandated benchmarks, no discretion is left the Commander in Chief of the United States military to reinforce success or respond to events on the ground.

This is not using the power of the purse. This is our elected representatives presuming to tell the Commander in Chief not only how many troops may be deployed, but when they may be deployed and what they may do once they are in theater. Congress has just assumed command of both our foreign policy and our military. So much for "listening to the generals". So much for the Constitution. So much for checks and balances.

What is the remedy when a Democratic Congress ignores the limits set on its power set by the United States Constitution?

Posted by Cassandra at March 27, 2007 09:37 PM

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Those spineless bastards want to win an election.
I want us to win this war.

Short sighted, politically expedient dumbasses are going to make my future grandchildren fight this war

Posted by: Carrie at March 28, 2007 08:17 AM

For the first time in my life, I am experiencing visceral hatred. I don't like it one little bit, and cannot understand how the Left has become so addicted to it. It must be an acquired taste, kind of like coffee and/or beer.

Really, I just want to scream!

Posted by: daveg at March 28, 2007 08:47 AM

Short sighted, politically expedient dumbasses are going to make my future grandchildren fight this war


I have never wanted us to be at war. I just think war is inevitable and don't want my grandchildren to fight it either when I am too old to help. That, in a nutshell, is why I have continued to support what we are doing. Nothing else could make me want this.

Posted by: The Church Lady at March 28, 2007 09:05 AM

To be sure...military spouses and parents are peace loving souls as we have so much to lose in war.
But the die was cast, we crossed the Rubicon and we all suck it up and deal with it.

I hate war. You know that. I hate surrendering when we do not have to even more.
I hate what that kind of action does to the sacrifices of so many. People like Dunham and Peralta who are well known but also the sacrifices of lesser known folks like Dieruf and Washalanta.

People like the wounded heroes at Walter Reed and Bethesda. What is this action telling them?

What does this action tell the wives and husbands of the deployed troops? What does it tell their parents?

And what does it tell their children?

Sorry...I'm all worked up and ranting this morning (not at you....just the world)

Posted by: Carrie at March 28, 2007 09:12 AM

I do not understand how we can ever expect another military person to sign on the dotted line, knowing that no commitment we make is serious, that no policy we undertake will be backed by our elected officials and their sacrifices will be dishonored. Their lives are just election tokens subject to polls and earmarks.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 28, 2007 09:37 AM

I was thinking that last night, Cass. There is a subset of people in this country that think you'd have to be a moron to volunteer for military duty. I'm starting to see their point, if (and only if) you append "under a Democratic Congressional majority and/or President" to the statement.

Posted by: daveg at March 28, 2007 10:16 AM

Does anyone know what the President's options are in this? Can he defy Congress and continue spending, through borrowing, and force a constitutional confrontation?

Can he rearrange the deck chairs in the 07 budget? Remember congress punted on that one and we are mostly operating under continuing resolutions. Anyone?

Posted by: CoRev at March 28, 2007 11:12 AM

BTW, remember these bills passed by a total of 4 votes.

Posted by: CoRev at March 28, 2007 11:13 AM

I think in this political climate he'd be inviting chimpeachment :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 28, 2007 11:19 AM

That's part of what makes me so angry. I really believe a show of support was crucial here, and that's exactly what he did not get.

Once again.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 28, 2007 11:20 AM

Over and over and over again what this Senate seems not to understand is that most of this is political theater. People aren't paying attention to all their behind the scenes machinations. They may think they're oh-so-clever, but the American people are out to lunch. They aren't getting it. And when you lose the people, you lose the war. God, I hope I am wrong.

I'm just a housewife with a keyboard. I'll be overjoyed if someone can show me I don't know what I'm talking about. But I wasn't wrong about the 2004 election when everyone was so blasted sure Bush would lose.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 28, 2007 11:23 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 03/28/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at March 28, 2007 11:31 AM

You're a thinking person with a keyboard. No less than anyone else out there, that gets their ideas plastered all over creation. The market of individual choice and judgement (your readers) will tell you whether your ideas are good or stink.
30 pieces of silver.

That's what Judas was allegedly paid to betray Jesus Christ to the Pharisees.

I wonder what Chuck Hagel's price was to betray his country, his president and his party? Just askin'. I hope it was worth it. I hope he can face himself every day for the rest of his life knowing what he did.
President Bush will veto this bill, and then it will go back to Congress. What will be the nature of the compromise that gets it passed, that is, the supplemental appropriation for the budgeting of the war? The "compromise" between Bush and the Congress will be the next battle. And I'm sure Mr. Hagel's vote will be for sale in that one, too.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 28, 2007 11:33 AM

In a constitutional showdown, re: micromanaging the troops, I say Congress loses. They have the power of the purse, but that's it. If they want us out, cut off funding. Other than that, they have no say... I would hope that this Supreme Court would make that clear, if it came to that...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at March 28, 2007 12:03 PM

In (dis) honor of Congress, I went to Walmart and bought pansies to plant in the back yard...

Still so hoppin' mad...their actions don't happen in a vacuum. Knowing that the vote was so close that they wouldn't be able to override the President's veto, this,as has been said, was political theater.
Very damaging political theater.

Others have commented that why would sane people volunteer to join our military with the lack of resolve and dedication shown by our Congress?
That is so true...

And as well, why would an Iraqi join the police force? Why would tribal leaders in Al Anbar continue to make war on al Qaeda if they think we're going to leave and they'll be marked for death as soon as we do?
As I said...short sighted, politically expedient dumbasses.

Posted by: Carrie at March 28, 2007 12:08 PM

What with the integrity of many of the members serving in our congress, is it any surprise to hear of the statements being made by our good buddies in the house of Saud and the UAE who's apparently going NIMBY on us ?

While reflecting on my disgust with our congress widgets, I wonder if we could find a rubber chicken supplier to field orders from citizens so as to send said product to the Congress ala the recent send a brick - build the wall campaign?

Posted by: bthun at March 28, 2007 12:24 PM

Carrie ...

The irony is, if the dumb-"asses" and RINOs eventually give Woodstock Nation everything they want, and allow America to be "put in her place", the resulting death toll over the long term will make what has been lost in Iraq look insignificant ...

... initially, as the totalitarians retake what free people have won to date (just look at Vietnam, Cambodia, and post-Desert-Storm Iraq for examples) ...

... and potentially, if/WHEN the totalitarians exploit Iraq, leverage its resources to take other nations, then decide to take us on directly ... on our own shores.

If/WHEN that happens, and after the bodies pile up on our ground (again), watch the denizens of Woodstock Nation either demand surrender, and the "peace" of the prison and graveyard will descend in a new Dark Age upon our civilization ...

... or, in the ultimate expression of hypocricy they will turn on a dime, and ... all pretense of anti-war sentiment gone ... demand the indiscriminate destruction of these nations, innocent lives be damned, in order to stop their personal pain.

And yet, all this can be avoided, if we stand with resolve against the totalitarian thugs and fanatics NOW.

You'd think the Best and Brightest (as the political menagerie described above see themselves) would be smart enough to realize that and act upon it ... but it takes WISDOM to gain that realization, and the B&B have historically confused "smart" with the much-more-valuable "wise", to the detriment of all who wish to live free and pursue happiness.

Posted by: Rich Casebolt at March 28, 2007 12:31 PM

"Short sighted, politically expedient dumbasses are going to make my future grandchildren fight this war..."

Yep. That's what they're all about. Sticking it to the children... between broken entitlement programs, a 'me-first' attitude, and the inability to figure out what is important and what is crucial in the world, guess who is going to be picking up the tab? Yep. The children.

Good job Congress!

Posted by: Kevin L at March 28, 2007 01:15 PM

Jason at Countercolumn found the following comment from "Tim" at an Ann Althouse post:

No one can make a coherent, intelligent case as to why losing in Iraq is in OUR best interest. No one can make a coherent, intelligent case as to why losing in Iraq improves our prospects of winning the larger war on militant Islamic Fascism. No one can make a coherent, intelligent case as to why losing in Iraq is good for our military, retention and morale. No one can make a coherent, intelligent case as to why losing in Iraq is good for our ability to develop and maintain alliances, when our word will have proven hallow and insincere, just as they were in April 1975. No one can make a coherent, intelligent case as to why losing in Iraq would persuade moderate Muslims and moderate Arab governments that the U.S. is a steadfast ally in the fight against militant Islamic Fascism. No one can make a coherent, intelligent case as to why losing in Iraq does not empower al Qaeda, validate its strategy that we are weak and have no stomach for protracted war, and enhance its recruitment of terrorists. No one can make a coherent, intelligent case as to why losing in Iraq makes it easier for us to deter the Irans and North Koreas of the world.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at March 28, 2007 05:12 PM

Miss Ladybug ... one big reason the critics cannot make a coherent case for walking away from this justified fight, is because they don't consider it relevant.

The actual outcome of that fight does not matter in their calculus, except with regards to how that fight can be used politically -- legitimately or illegitimately, in terms of intellectual honesty -- to further progress towards their primary objectives:

> The denigration, to irrelevance and/or disdain, of the self-reliant/personally-responsible/free-enterprise/independent-thinking ... and most significantly, confident ... value system that the Best and Brightest believe is limited only to their political opponents, but is actually the value system that made America the free, powerful, prosperous, and compassionate society it is today.

> Effectively putting America "in her place", where they think she belongs ... subordinate to an international community that also rejects the value system above, restrained from independently using her power without international consensus ... fact, reason, principle, and morality be damned.

> Finally, the replacement of the value system described above, with a system that supposedly values collective consensus ... suppresses the profit motive ... allows all to benefit from the education and expertise of the Best and Brightest ... and removes the threat of violent action on our part, supposedly to encourage peaceful responses from our enemies.

However, reality doesn't mesh with that system ...

... for under such a system, the profit motive re-emerges as a relative few who are skillful at manuvering around and manipulating the "system" rise to power, and tell the rest of us what to do ... with the force of law behind them, and no recourse for us against the errors and/or malice perpetrated by the powerful ... leaving us with far less control over our individual destinies than if the worst myths of "corporate dominance" became reality.

... and no recourse, as well, for us when it comes to the Machivellian machinations of the international community ... or when the thugs and fantatics that foment terror exploit our unilateral restraint to gain a lethal advantage over us or other free people.

And, ultimately, when our backs are against the wall, we all -- including those who believe in peace-through-universal impotence -- will be compelled to fight back ... but in ways berefit of precision and/or compassion, resulting in a death toll that will make Iraq look like a bad Fourth of July weekend on our highways.

So much for their compassionate "wisdom" ...

Posted by: Rich Casebolt at March 29, 2007 12:00 AM

The only thing that matters is can the Left get 67 Senators to back an impeachment. If not, then they are still irrelevant.

Posted by: SDN at March 29, 2007 07:51 PM

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