Iraq

Senate Resolves To Stay the Course in Iraq

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The Wash Times reports that "a majority" of senators support a nonbinding resolution about "staying the course in Iraq. From the story:

"Congress should not take any action that will endanger United States military forces in the field, including the elimination or reduction of funds for troops in the field, as such an action with respect to funding would undermine their safety or harm their effectiveness in pursuing their assigned missions," says the resolution, authored mainly by Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.

Although backers say they are deeply dissatisfied with the execution of the war, the resolution says that the United States "should continue vigorous operations" in parts of Iraq and that early withdrawal "would present a threat to regional and world peace."

More here. Has anyone in Congress seriously argued about pulling funds with soldiers on the ground over there? That seems like a canard to me. In any case, the Times doesn't provide a number of yea votes and wonders if the majority that supposedly supports the resolution is 60 or more, which would make it filibuster-proof.

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  1. Has anyone in Congress seriously argued about pulling funds with soldiers on the ground over there? That seems like a canard to me.

    Of course it’s a canard. Nobody had the nerve, or the stupidity, to make such an accusation back ca. 1970 when the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment was on the table. Of course, the amendment specifically provided that no funds could be spent for U.S. forces in Vietnam except for the purposes of safely disengaging them and bringing them home, so maybe our present-day solons ought to put that into their draft legislation and call attention to that fact.

  2. “Has anyone in Congress seriously argued about pulling funds with soldiers on the ground over there? That seems like a canard to me.”

    For what it’s worth, Schumer mentioned it last night on the Daily Show, though he quickly and clumsily tried to backtrack as if he’d let slip that he occasionally eats babies.

    The canard is that tightening the purse strings automatically translates into leaving troops stranded without bullets or transport out of Iraq. This is a nice little meme that has gone unchallenged by just about every member of the U.S.’s pathetic excuse for a media.

    If soldiers are left high and dry as a result of Congress’s cutting off funding, that would clearly be the fault of the Commander in Chief, who, faced with a choice between sacrificing more troops or pulling them out for lack of funding chose the former option. It wouldn’t be out of the question that he would do this in a desperate attempt to protect his cherished legacy and/or try to smear blood on those who want the occupation to end.

    Who knows? It is really embarrassing that the most obvious and effective option open to Congress is not being pursued.

    I’m ready to be attacked now for hating ‘Murka, wishing ill upon the troops and their families and…their children. I’ve got my protective commie codpiece on so let it fly.

  3. Oh, and what quick-draw Seamus said.

  4. pinko, you came to the wrong place if you are looking to get attacked for believing we should pull out of Iraq. Try Free Republic.

  5. Marcvs,

    Just being facetious.

    After thinking about it more, I don’t see why the fuck Congress should have to provide any amendments to a bill which cuts off funding. What should happen then is that the conscientious Commander in Chief after being rebuked would then be required to go hat in hand to Congress with a request for disengagement and withdrawal funds. Again, he could exercise his own discretion there.

  6. People in Congress haven’t talked much about pulling funding on troops in the field, but people on H&R certainly have, as in “Where is the courage? What a GREAT idea it would be to draw a line in the sand and not fund troops in the field!”

  7. I heard they inserted the language about defunding troops on the ground to appease Judd Gregg from New Hampshire.

  8. I’m ready to be attacked now for hating ‘Murka, wishing ill upon the troops and their families and…their children. I’ve got my protective commie codpiece on so let it fly.

    I don’t agree with you. I think the idea is stupid and will result in making things worse, but I do think you deserve credit for at least taking a definitive stand on the issue.

    As opposed to most of the Senate, who want to play both sides of the issue in order to make themselves look good on national TV. It’s politics at it’s most disgusting.

  9. Name one, Jason L.

    One. One commenter, one Reasonoid, who has every said it would be a good idea to cut funding for troops in the field.

  10. The canard is that tightening the purse strings automatically translates into leaving troops stranded without bullets or transport out of Iraq.

    Agreed. And everyone in Congress knows it.

    No, the reason they won’t vote to cut off funding is that they don’t want to take responsibility for the disasters that a precipitous retreat (however well-run) would entail.

    IOW, they want their cake (the ability to chant “US Out Now!” while basking in the plaudits of the anti-war community) and eat it too (not having to take responsibility for the actual results that would ensue).

  11. No, the reason they won’t vote to cut off funding is that they don’t want to take responsibility for the disasters that a precipitous retreat (however well-run) would entail.

    You know, I agree that Congress will not cut off funds because of the potential disaster if the U.S. withdraws hastily. Conversely, supporters of the war and the “surge” don’t seem very willing to discuss the disasters that staying in Iraq will entail. They just presume that the surge will work when, in fact, we are probably just looking at more of the same, indefinitely, under their “plan”.

    That’s the basic problem with Iraq. There are no good options. The onus is on those who promoted, supported and planned the war. That would basically be the Bush Administration. They got us into this, so how are they going to get us out?

    All blather about “victory” is pretty much considered to be bullshit by the public after years of futility. Someday they are going to have to come up with something better than the pat answers of Dick Cheney, Sean Hannity and Brit Hume.

  12. “I think the idea is stupid.”

    I’m not sure which idea you mean.

    Are you referring to putting a halt to troop escalation itself or taking the most direct path to stopping troop escalation; that is, yanking firmly on the purse strings?

    My main point is that the issue of how we are to extricate ourselves from these sorts of quagmires should be front and center every time someone floats the idea of invading and occupying another country. This discussion should take place before we go to war. The withdrawal scenario should never be an afterthought.

    I think my suggestions are more in the spirit of utilizing the policy options at hand now that we have pumped up the current commander in chief, and he’s not listening to anyone outside his shrinking inner circle. There don’t seem to be many other options on the table now.

  13. Further to your characterization of my “stupid” suggestion: there is a wide spectrum of choices here with regard to strategy. I think that it is unfair to characterize any of them as stupid. I think that it would be fairer now to describe the potential outcomes as ranging somehwere between unfortunate and catastrophic.

    There are the outlier strategies of course, such as immediate withdrawal of all forces or the compulsory drafting of 300,000 more soldiers for duty in Iraq, which you might want to call stupid, but based on the trajectory of this war, only escalation as it is currently being suggested seems to be the stupid option. And again, I wouldn’t characterize Bush’s escalation as stupid, just wasteful and futile.

    Seriously, who would you handpick to sacrifice at this point and for what?

  14. Fair enough, I’ll call it “unwise”. Better now?

    It’s unwise because it will plunge the entire region into chaos, embolden Iran, demoralize our allies, and give Al-Qaeda a badly-needed victory. Even if we can detach ourselves cleanly from Iraq, we’ll still be fighting a war: Once our troops leave Iraq, the jihadis will all go to Afghanistan and try to repeat what we did in Iraq.

    At that point, we’ll be faced with the same choice we’re facing in Iraq: Building a democracy in a hostile country that has never known one, all while trying to keep different ethnic factions from killing each other. If you don’t have the will to win that type of war in Baghdad, you won’t suddenly find it in Kabul.

    However, to repeat my original point, as unwise as your plan may be, at least it’s a real plan. I would love to see the Senate actually debate the Iraq war, but instead they are content to avoid responsibility and posture for the voters.

  15. joe:

    Weigel?

  16. Jason L,

    Nope, and nope.

    You’re simply characterizing any effort to cut of funding at any time as “cutting off funding for the troops in the field,” as if not funding future operations forbids the spending of money on ongoing operations.

    That’s incredibly dishonest – ie, par for the course.

  17. Man, I’m just glad I didn’t vote for Team Blue in hopes they would get us out of Iraq.

    So, that torture bill? It’s going to get passed soon, right? Right? I mean, if they’re putzing around with meaningless non-binding resolutions, they could spare a little time on that subject, I think…

  18. joe:

    Yeah, yeah. Dishonest. Like when a blog piece that says:

    “has scheduled a hearing next Tuesday in his Judiciary Committee subcommittee to explore whether Congress has the authority to cut off funding for the U.S. military campaign in Iraq. The move comes as Congress prepares to vote on a congressional resolution opposing President Bush’s escalation of the war.

    Feingold, a fierce war critic, will force Democrats to consider an option many consider politically suicidal: denying funds to the military and U.S. soldiers to force a quicker end to the war.”

    Is noted favorably by one joe, who is then later shocked, SHOCKED that anyone could take this as ‘cutting off funding for troops in the field’. Stop calling everyone who disagrees with you dishonest, you ass.

    Less time with that and more with trying to figure out how you could be misunderstood in that previous thread.

    What the hell does ‘cut off funding for the campaign in Iraq’ mean if not, uh, cutting off funding for the campaign in Iraq?

  19. “No, the reason they won’t vote to cut off funding is that they don’t want to take responsibility for the disasters that a precipitous retreat (however well-run) would entail.”

    Highly doubtful. This war is Bush’s baby, and he owns its consequences. Withdrawal has overwhelming public support, and the terrible consequences people tell us will happen if we withdraw are happening right now, under our noses, even as our troops continue to die.

    The public isn’t going to blame the people who ended the war for creating a civil war and expanding Iran’s power and producing a humanitarian catastophe, because we can all see on our television everday that those things are going on right now, and were caused by our invasion. The public is going to blame the people who started that war for its consequences.

    Anti-war politicians in Congress are shy about using the purse strings because they’re afraid of the same “you don’t support the troops” argument that the White House has been throwing at them for five year. Well, for now anyway.

  20. Hey Jason, you dishonest ass,

    In case you didn’t notice, you dishonest ass, nothing in the resolution involved forbidding funds from being spent on the troops that are currently in the field, you dishonest ass.

    And Feingold and President Bush both say that he has the funds available to pay for the troops that are currently there, you dishonest ass.

    I could take you at your word, and assume you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury that prevents you from understanding the concept of time, you dishonest ass.

    But instead, I’ll continue to believe that you are just being a dishonest ass.

  21. Cutting off funding for the Iraq campaign means that Bush has to bring the troops that are there home before the funds on hand run out.

    If troops are left in the field without the resources they need, it will be because Bush decided to leave them there, knowing that they were about to run out of resources.

    You know this. I know you know it. You know I know you know it. And you keep saying things we both know to be false, JasonL, because you’re a dishonest ass.

  22. joe, I vehemently disagree with Jason about a great many things, but I don’t think he’s dishonest. Or even an ass.

    He’s dead wrong. Then again, he’d say the same about me.

    But he’s not a dishonest ass. (I hope he’d say the same about me.)

  23. thoreau,

    Even the other war supporters acknowledge this. It is well outside the realm of possibility to believe that Jason doesn’t realize that a funding cutoff would force the President to bring the troops home, rather than leave them there without equipment and resources.

  24. From the link Jason L provided, when he was accusing people who supported Feingold’s proposal of wanting to cut off resources for troops in the field:

    “Congress holds the power of the purse and if the president continues to advance his failed Iraq policy, we have the responsibility to use that power TO SAFETY REDEPLOY OUR TROOPS FROM IRAQ,” Feingold said in a statement released by his office on Thursday.

  25. Conclusion: it is not remotely possible for a person familiar with the issue to believe that cutting off funding for the Iraq campaign would leave troops in the field without resources.

  26. I’ve been very critical of Bush handling of the war since Rumsfeld sent less troops than Gen. Shininski requested from congress, which was 250,000, I think. He was forced to resign after that request. I knew we had a “reality” problem. Having said that, if I was a Senator I would NOT vote to defund the war, nor would I vote on any legislation denouncing the war or Bush’s handling of it. That way, when Bush leaves office and the war is still crap, he has no one to blame but himself. I would give him enough rope to swing like Saddam.

    If Congress defunded the war, Bush could use that as an excuse as to why the war wasn’t won. That’s a luxury I wouldn’t give him.

  27. I’ve been very critical of Bush handling of the war since Rumsfeld sent less troops than Gen. Shininski requested from congress, which was 250,000, I think. He was forced to resign after that request. I knew we had a “reality” problem. Having said that, if I was a Senator I would NOT vote to defund the war, nor would I vote on any legislation denouncing the war or Bush’s handling of it. That way, when Bush leaves office and the war is still crap, he has no one to blame but himself. I would give him enough rope to swing like Saddam.

    Two points: Gen. Shinseki was not “forced to resign”; he completed his term as Chairman of JCS and retired shortly thereafter, like every one of his predecessors.

    Furthermore, Shinseki was the one who had the “reality” problem by insisting that the military fight the way it did during the Cold War. While he has been lionized as having “told the truth” about Iraq, few people remember that he also strongly opposed the Afghan operation after 9/11. If Rumsfeld and Bush had listened to him in 2001, the Taliban would still be in power today.

    If Congress defunded the war, Bush could use that as an excuse as to why the war wasn’t won. That’s a luxury I wouldn’t give him.

    So to summarize your position, it’s not about preserving American lives or promoting peace or saving taxpayer’s money; rather, it’s all about getting Bush.

    I mean, I knew that already — most anti-war protestors are obvious about it — but it always does amaze me when people brazenly admit it.

  28. joe-

    Fair point. I’ll be interested to hear Jason’s answer. But whatever he says about this issue, from considerable interaction with him I have to say that he is (1) honest and (2) not an ass.

    TrickyVic:
    If Congress defunded the war, Bush could use that as an excuse as to why the war wasn’t won. That’s a luxury I wouldn’t give him.

    Much as I’d love for the dead-enders to realize their mistakes, there are two problems with your idea. The biggest problem is that American troops will die for it. I can’t accept the idea of letting more people die just to prove a point. (Iraqis, of course, will die regardless of whether we stay or go, because the place is a bloody clusterfuck that is beyond our ability to repair.)

    The other problem is that the dead-enders are way past the point of truth and reality. No matter what happens, no matter how many opportunities they’re given, they’ll maintain that the failure was somebody else’s fault. Certainly not their own incompetence, or the fundamental unworkability of their idea.

  29. I’m going to need some evidence of that assertion, Captain Holly.

    Ten bucks says Shinseki didn’t oppose the Afghan operation, just wanted to do it differently.

    thoreau,

    Is it obvious that this is another smear about how much I hate the troops? My God, I want to leave them to perish in desert!

    Screw that, these people have distorted our discourse long enough with their attacks on our patriotism, courage, and support for the troops. They need to get called on it.

  30. I’m giving Jason the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he misunderstood. I’m doing this because I have interacted with Jason many times, and while I vehemently disagree with him I don’t think he’s the sort who would deliberately slander.

    Jason, I don’t know of anybody who wants to cut off funds and leave the troops in the desert with no supplies. I know of plenty of people, however, who want to cut off funds for everything except enough jet fuel to come home. Why? Because we want the troops to come home, and cutting off the funds is the only way to bring them home.

    Unless you happen to think that this administration would leave them in the desert with no supplies. That would be totally incompetent and an inxcusable error of historic proport…shit, they just might do it.

  31. “”Much as I’d love for the dead-enders to realize their mistakes, there are two problems with your idea. “”

    Thoreau, I’m not following you, My idea was “if I was a Senator I would NOT vote to defund the war, nor would I vote on any legislation denouncing the war or Bush’s handling of it.”

    Certainly no troops would die because I voted against a non-binding resolution.

    With respect to the two sentences you quoted me on, I’m referring to Bush possibly blaming the loss of Iraq on Congress if they defund it which you address in your point two.

    However I disagree, at least till Jan 2009. At this point Bush has no one but himself to blame it on. When Bush claims he is the “decider” then he is accepting all responsibility, at least for now and until he leaves office.

  32. “”Congress holds the power of the purse and if the president continues to advance his failed Iraq policy, we have the responsibility to use that power TO SAFETY REDEPLOY OUR TROOPS FROM IRAQ,” Feingold said in a statement released by his office on Thursday.”

    So you don’t have the power to redeploy troops. You do have the power to cut of funding. You choose to cut off funding -WHILE THERE ARE TROOPS IN THE FIELD. Congress can NOT deploy troops, they can ONLY cut off funding to those troops.

    I don’t care what your intent is, joe. When there is a current deployment and you vote to stop funding, you ARE cutting off funding for troops in the field.

    You are putting a dress on it by saying that there is enough money for the troops over there now. Really? Enough money for them to do what? For how long? If the commander in chief orders the surge, or if circumstances demand an offensive, is there enough money?

    You either have an ignorant 10 year old’s view of military budgeting that you think you can draw a line in the sand that says ‘now we are funding the mission, but after next month we won’t be funding the mission’ and still claim you aren’t cutting off funding for deployed troops, or, more likely, you are convinced you are making the right move and want to white wash the very real impact of what you are doing.

    If you want to stop the war through the budgetary process, by all means cut off funding, but be a man about it.

  33. “Jason, I don’t know of anybody who wants to cut off funds and leave the troops in the desert with no supplies. I know of plenty of people, however, who want to cut off funds for everything except enough jet fuel to come home.”

    Nothing in this sentence strikes you as a set of conflicting claims.

  34. and, by the way, I don’t support the surge.

  35. As a matter of fact, Jason L, that is exactly what Congress did at the end of the Vietnam War – they cut off funding. AND YET, not a single soldier was left in combat until he ran out of bullets. That’s because the legislation cutting off funds was passed months before the already-appropriated funds ran out, and the president spent that time withdrawing them from the field.

    “If the commander in chief orders the surge, or if circumstances demand an offensive, is there enough money?” If the commander in chief orders them to fight beyond the end of the funding, HE is leaving them in the field without resources and/or violating the law by spending unauthorized money.

    This is not that hard – if Congress cuts off funding for a certain initiative, the executive branch winds it down and sends it people home. Duh.

    You are not anywhere near stupid enough not to be doing this deliberately. I’d say it’s obvious even to thoreau at this point that you are just reaching to shift the responsibility and slander your opponents.

  36. Jason-

    If we cut off funding for everything except jet fuel then they come home and they aren’t stranded in the desert without supplies. Capisce?

    The only way this plan fails is if Bush orders them to stay and fight without supplies. That would be a complete dereliction of his duties, an act of monumental incompetence and utter disregard for…oh, shit, he just might do it.

  37. joe:

    If you vote to cut funding for a mission prior to the political decision to leave, you are trying to force a preferred decision by the commander in chief by literally cutting funding to the troops in the field. If there is additional agression required, you have still voted to cut funding for troops in the field. The troops in the field are inseparable from the mission when you are talking about funding. You can’t defund one without defunding the other.

    I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong with casting that vote if it is your belief that the war should end. What I’m saying is that such a vote should be controversial precisely because it defunds troops in the field. You have removed treasury support for a currently deployed mission. You’d better hope everything goes smoothly. There is no way around that responsibility.

    If you are going to say “Yay me, I ended the conflict by defunding it,” you are implicitly saying “There were troops deployed and I cut funding for their activities such that if fighting were to continue or cost more than I thought in the mean time, they might die for lack of funds – yay me.” In short, you can’t deploy troops up to some imaginary line item on your budget. It doesn’t work that way.

    Cut funding, but recognize what you are doing.

  38. “If we cut off funding for everything except jet fuel then they come home and they aren’t stranded in the desert without supplies. Capisce?”

    And in the mean time, nobody launches an offensive against them and nothing happens on the ground to change the exact date when you say they are fully funded. Right?

    There is responsibility for choosing to pick this fight with the commander in chief. You can win it, but the mere fact that you have drawn a line in the sand and not achieved political consensus on a withdrawal means that you are accountable for all of the implications of drawing that line.

  39. To clarify all of this:

    The commander in chief has responsibility for deploying troops and the congress has responsiblity for funding military actions. These things together create a combined responsibility for the troops in the field. Neither party can dodge their responsibilities EVEN IF they disagree with each other. If you defund knowing that you have previously agreed to fund a mission and there are troops in the field, and you fail to get political consensus to get the mission aligned with the funding, you have at least to some extent failed as a legislator.

    I do not think anyone wants to get troops killed. I think people have a simple view of what can happen, and that you can just cast this vote and say, “Well, it is all on the executive now.” You can’t say that because you knew there was no political consensus when you tried to force the issue. That is why forcing the issue should be a remarkable event.

  40. Jason, I’m pretty sure that the people in Congress who oppose this war would be happy to pay for enough ammunition to fight their way to the escape planes. Hell, I’ll bet that they’ll even provide body armor and armor for their vehicles! (Better than you can say for Rumsfeld…)

    Nobody wants the troops to be defenseless as they board those planes. What we want is to get them out ASAP, and that means that they get what they need to fight their way to the planes and then they go home. That’s it.

    The bottom line is that in our system of checks and balances, the President isn’t supposed to be fighting wars without the consent of Congress. Cutting off funds is Congress’s way of saying “Get the hell out NOW!” And Congress has the authority to say “Get the hell out NOW!”

    If something should change on the ground, if something should happen that requires us to stay longer and fight after Congress has cut off funds, then the President should convene an emergency session of Congress (Article II, section 3) and ask them to consider authorizing more action.

    Face it, this thing is a fucked up mess and it’s time to end. Don’t hide behind the troops. What they need is a plane ticket home, NOW.

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