As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Democrats Kicking The Can

I know George Bush is a walking impediment to reason, but really this is a critical time for Iraq, and I don't think we can just give up and play out the string until next January.

The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.

The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush's projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.

The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.

Apparently Collins also called the war a must win, so it's a mixed message, but clearly even the defense establishment is coming around to the fact that the sunny predictions of certain victory hide a dangerous truth - that we're becoming bogged down in an unnecessary and stupid war with no end in sight, and that it's diminishing our capacity as a world leader.

The report said that the United States has suffered serious political costs, with its standing in the world seriously diminished. Moreover, operations in Iraq have diverted "manpower, materiel and the attention of decision-makers" from "all other efforts in the war on terror" and severely strained the U.S. armed forces.

"Compounding all of these problems, our efforts there (in Iraq) were designed to enhance U.S. national security, but they have become, at least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East," the report continued.

When the strategy for victory includes building a big wall around Sadr City to turn an area with millions of inhabitants into a roach motel; and when the commander-in-chief literally says that his measure of success is success, you know we've got a major problem. And without leadership and a change of direction, it's not going to get better, and the potential for defeat and a crushing blow to our security and standing will actually increase.

Given all this, the fact that the Democrats are preparing to take a pass on the entire issue of funding is deeply distressing. It's like they were pounded into submission and learned only helplessness instead of resolve. The quotes in this article are cringeworthy.

The House Democratic leadership is close to finalizing a decision to combine all outstanding Bush administration requests for war funding — totaling at least $170 billion — into one huge bill, according to lawmakers and aides.

Such a move would clear war funding from the congressional agenda until well into the next administration.

On top of the war funding, Democrats also want to attach billions of dollars in domestic spending initiatives to the measure, which could be the only appropriations bill enacted this year [...]

More immediately, Democratic leaders believe that by offering more than $170 billion in war funding, they can blunt Republican attacks on them for failing to support the troops, a senior Democratic appropriator said. The lawmaker, who declined to be identified, said the strategy also would increase Democrats’ leverage to seek extra discretionary funding.

James P. Moran, D-Va., a senior House appropriator, said that the new plan was the “best idea yet” because it would provide funds for the military through June 2009.

Yes, the "best idea yet." And good luck with blunting Republican attacks, because typically in an election year they back off anyway.

I don't have a big problem with using Iraq funding to get what you need domestically if there was a reason to continue in Iraq. But there isn't. And in truth, the Democrats are giving up on their ability to impact the war at all, even though the simplest thing you can do - not pass a bill - is in their toolkit. There's simply a lack of political will to do anything meaningful. Lynn Woolsey basically explains it.

Lynn Woolsey: I'll tell you one of the things -- and you're just going to hate this -- because I hate it. But, there's this sense that we don't have the votes to do what we need to do, the right things to do, so we're not going to do anything, virtually. And what I say is, okay well if our troops, our wonderful troops over there say, "Well, you know, this is really hard and I don't know we can win this battle, so I think I won't do it." I just think we are looking at this so wrong. And I think the people of this country...89 percent of Americans polled are saying that our economy is directly related to our involvement in Iraq. I mean, they get it. We shouldn't be there in the first place. It's bringing our country down and our economy down. So I would think that the reason they made us the majority party anyway was so that we would do something about it.

I don't know how you can call this anything but complicity.

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