Friday, February 23, 2007

A New Resolve?

Yesterday, I had a a look at Murtha's plan to prevent the White House from sending troops to Iraq without sufficient training or equipment, sending troops back to the combat zone without sufficient rest or extending tours via the "stop-loss" backdoor draft. My conclusion was that Murtha was bravely looking at policy decisions that ought to be taken by any nation with a voluntary military before embarking on (or deciding to escalate) a war of choice. In other words, putting the troops before the war.

But it seems that the Murtha proposals, under both Republican and "friendly" fire, are too rich for the blood of Democrat leaders. They would rather concentrate on the war now. Perhaps taking their cue from Tony Blair, they want to propose a timetable for withdrawal:
The new framework would set a goal for withdrawing combat brigades by March 31, 2008, the same timetable established by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Once the combat phase ends, troops would be restricted to assisting Iraqis with training, border security and counterterrorism.

Senior Democratic aides said the proposed resolution would be sent directly to the Senate floor for action, without committee review, possibly as an amendment to a homeland security bill scheduled for debate next week.

Reid said no final decision had been made on the timing. Spokesman Jim Manley said Reid wants to present the idea to other Democrats before determining how and when to proceed.
The Carpetbagger notes:
So, is it a good plan? I guess so, though it seems to be an entirely defensive exercise, designed to rebut inevitable charges. It doesn’t affect funding, so Republicans can’t attack and Lieberman shouldn’t jump. It doesn’t “micromanage,” so that takes another far-right talking point off the table. It’s not a “precipitous” withdrawal, so it should maintain strong public support. What’s more, since Dems will no doubt be looking for some kind of cover, they can point to the Iraq Study Group to bolster support, since it was the ISG that targeted March 2008 in its report.

This is about setting a deadline, which many of us have been advocating for a longtime. Can it garner some GOP votes? Will Dems stick together on this? Stay tuned.
While some Democrat bloggers are happy about the new proposal, others are less confident that it will get somewhere (and yes, I had to hold my nose to link to Matt "if you're not A-List you're nobody" Stoller, but he has a point). The uber-right, as expected, are against anything that will stop their lovely war from continuing forever.

The Sis thinks at least part of the motive is to limit that uber-right narrative for war until the end of time:
I'm sure the idea of repealing the war resolution has something to do with the saber-rattling over Iran, because there have been fears that the administration will try to use the resolution to justify military action against Iran, by virtue of some vague wording in the resolution like "Whereas it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region," and administration claims that Iran is meddling in Iraq (ergo making itself part of the existing war). So repealing the resolution is a good idea for more reasons than just hastening a withdrawal, although that's reason enough.
I'm less than confident that Harry Reid and the Dem leadership have the cojones to push this through - but then that would be true of the Murtha proposal too. You have to start somewhere and maybe, just maybe, since this new proposal for withdrawal coincides with what all the major allies in the coalition are already doing and coincides with what the majority of the American people say they want, this might be the place to do it.

But eventually, maybe after the occupation of Iraq is done with and maybe before, Murtha's serious policy questions about which should get priority - wars of choice or the viability of the US military and its ability to respond to real threats - will have to be answered. Murtha's proposals, for me, are the only sensible way to answer them.

Update, there's something startling going on in comments,as Rick Moran from the Right Wing Nut House blog gets involved:
There is an excellent way to stop the war; have an up or down vote on de-funding it.The Democrats have it within their power to do this. Instead, they sneak around like thieves in the night looking to backdoor something they should be proud of doing up front.I have no problem with the Democrats if they take the direct route. But their plans smack of political and moral cowardice and should be noted as such.
Rick Moran 02.23.07 - 1:13 pm

Hi Rick,Want to count with me the number of times Republicans hid policy decisions inside funding bills? It wouldn't be pretty reading for you.You're just annoyed that the shoe is on the other foot. Regards, C
Cernig 02.23.07 - 2:42 pm

You're confusing political shenanagins on funding health care or education with funding the war?While those issues are important, I would challenge you to come up with any more important issue than war and peace, life and death.
Rick Moran 02.23.07 - 3:12 pm

So funding healthcare isn't a matter of life and death?You're annoyed because the shoe is now, in your view, bigger as well as on the other foot? C'moan Rick! Here, try all of these. Regards, C
Cernig 02.23.07 - 3:49 pm
So there you have it - for Rick Moran, killing more Iraqis in the quagmire is a matter of life and death, but your children's future or the health of your loved ones are not (and so are undeserving of up-or-down votes). I wonder if any Republicans on the Hill (or Joe Lieberman for that matter) will be as forthright about their priorities?

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