Reid vs. Lieberman –updated–
Let\’s get something straight. Escalation is not about whether Congress has
the constitutional authority to keep Bush from escalating the war in Iraq. Turley laid that out last night on Olbermann. It\’s whether Congress has the spine to stop Bush. The Founders made it clear.
What Democrats must be willing to do is block funds for the escalation plans
of the president, but they need Republicans on board to get the job done. Mr.
Bush needs money to escalate and if Congress puts a halt or conditions to those
funds Bush would have to veto the entire appropriations package or whatever else is sent to him to push back.
Democrats have to lead and play hardball to get this done.
I am particularly disappointed that there are no credible benchmarks and
no way to measure the military and economic progress of this operation. There
is no incentive for the Iraqis to take over.
All of us want stability in the Middle East, and Iraq is an important element
in achieving that stability. But the military and their families deserve an
achievable mission. It is unacceptable to me that we are sending troops back
to Iraq who have not completed their training cycle and that we are extending
troops who are battle-weary from the intensive combat in Iraq.
A year ago, I called for a redeployment of our forces and predicted that
this \”stay the course\” policy would adversely affect our military
readiness. The Defense Subcommittee will begin holding extensive hearings
on January 17th to determine how we can best restore the readiness and strategic
reserve of our military.
But we\’ve got a huge problem brewing in the Senate.
A top GOP senator said that he \”will filibuster\” any Democratic
attempt to decrease funding for President Bush\’s new Iraq plan, the Associated
\”At a news conference, McConnell accused Democrats of secretly favoring
a plan to cut off funding for the troops – an allegation that Reid and House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. denied,\” AP reports.
\”The fundamental decision to stay on offence and to finish the job,
I think is correct, and we believe the president is heading in the right direction
and tend to support him,\” Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said before
Bush\’s speech last night.
McConnell also talked to some right-leaning bloggers earlier this
morning to earn their support for his potential filibuster, telling them on
a conference call with other journalists that he expects Independent Connecticut
Senator Joe Lieberman to also join in with the Republicans. …
Obviously, Mitch McConnell is not Bill Frist.
However, Harry Reid didn\’t come up through Nevada politics and succeed spectacularly because he was a pussy. Reid\’s reply to Mr. Bush today: NO ESCALATION. NO WAY.
The battle lines are drawn.
UPDATE (4:10 p.m.): Wanted to read a portion of Juan Cole\’s post today, but ran out of time. Make sure you read it: Bush Sends GIs to his Private Fantasyland.
If part of the strategy is to assault the Mahdi Army frontally, that will cause enormous trouble in the Shiite south. I would suggest that PM Nuri al-Maliki\’s warning to the Mahdi Militia to disarm or face the US military is in fact code. He is telling the Sadrists to lie low while the US mops up the Sunni Arab guerrillas. Sadr\’s militia became relatively quiescent for a whole year after the Marines defeated it at Najaf in August, 2004. But since it is rooted in an enormous social movement, the militia is fairly easy to reconstitute after it goes into hiding.
UPDATE (2:40 p.m.): Senator Feingold is correct.
UPDATE (1:25 p.m. – via email): And then there were ten… Republicans
joining Majority Leader Reid, that is. Talk is cheap and meant for campaigns. Also, news (via CNN) is that Senator Reid will
not go so far as to block funding for Bush\’s escalation. If true, you know what
Senator Chuck Hagel Calls the President\’s Speech the Most Dangerous
Foreign Policy Blunder since Vietnam. \”I think this speech given
last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy
blunder in this country since Vietnam — if it\’s carried out. I will resist
it.\” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 1/11/07]
Senator Norm Coleman Opposes President Bush\’s Escalation Plan.
\”And to put the lives of Americans soldiers — more, in the center of
that, without first having something that\’s substantial, something we can
point to, other than this sense of trust, other than looking someone in the
eye, having a conversation. I\’m not prepared, at this time, to support that.
It\’s — the cost is too great.\” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony,
Senator John Sununu Expressed His Concerns about President Bush\’s
Escalation Plan. \”There were some areas where I have a little
bit more concern, such as whether or not the use of the troops discussed will
really be appropriate in dealing with sectarian violence in BaghdadÃ¢â‚¬Â¦\”
[Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony, 1/11/07]
Senator George Voinovich Is Skeptical of the Plan for Escalation.
\”I think you should know that I am skeptical that a surge of troops will
bring an end to the escalation of violence and the insurgency in Iraq. Many
of the generals that have served there have said they don\’t believe additional
troops will be helpful in Baghdad particularly. And, Madam Secretary, my faith
in Prime Minister Maliki\’s ability to make the hard choices necessary to bring
about political solutions has to be restored. What we need is a political
solution between the Sunnis and the Shiite.\” [Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Testimony, 1/11/07]
Senator Lisa Murkowski Not Convinced by the President\’s Plan.
\”I would agree with Senator Hagel that, given the American lives that
have been lost in Iraq, we want to make sure that we have a policy that is
worthy of their sacrifices. And those are his words. And I think they\’re very
well spoken. But I\’m not convinced, as I look to the plan that the president
presented yesterday, that what we\’re seeing is that much different than what
we have been doing in the past.\” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Vitter Is Concerned the President\’s Plan is Too Little Too
Late. \”And so that does lead to a concern of mine that we may
commit the same mistake I think we clearly have in the past, which is too
little, maybe too late.\” [Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony,
Senator Susan Collins Says an Increase in Troop Levels Is a Mistake.
\”Based on the trip I took to Iraq last month, I concluded it would be
a mistake to increase the overall level of troops in Iraq.\” [Chicago
Sen. Gordon Smith Opposes the Escalation. \”We are extending
an ineffective tactic to further the status quo. Iraqis must be the ones to
settle their own peace.\” [AP, 1/10/07]
Senator Olympia Snowe Is Skeptical That an Escalation Will Address
the Problem. \”I have deep scepticism about it, about a surge
addressing the root causes of the mistrust and hatred that sects have for
each other. That\’s what I expressed. The fact of the matter is that the American
people don\’t support this war and the way it has evolved because they see
the Iraqis fighting among themselves instead of for themselves.\” [Irish
Sen. Sam Brownback Ã¢â‚¬“ from Baghdad — Says Escalation Is Not
the Answer. \”I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq
is the answer. Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution.\”