House Dems finally get their out-of-Iraq plan off the ground.
In a direct challenge to President Bush, House Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday requiring the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the fall of next year.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the deadline would be added to legislation providing nearly $100 billion the Bush administration has requested for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.[…] As described by Democrats, the legislation will require Bush to certify by July 1 and again by Oct. 1. whether the Iraqi government is making progress toward providing for the country’s security, allocating its oil revenues and creating a fair system for amending its constitution.
They said if Bush certified the Iraqis were meeting these so-called benchmarks, U.S. combat troops would have to begin withdrawing by March 1, 2008, and complete the redeployment by Sept. 1.
Otherwise, the deadlines would move up.
If Bush cannot make the required certification by July 1, troops must begin a six-month withdrawal immediately. If Bush cannot make the second certification, the same six-month timetable would apply.
In essence Bush gets his war money on the condition that we get out of Iraq by late 2008 at the latest. With the idea of pulling out of Iraq Beatles-popular with Americans the Dems are hardly going out on a limb with this. If anything the plurality to slight majority who favors immediate withdrawal will be disappointed.
If Bush vetoes the bill he won’t get any war money. The Senate GOP can always filibuster to similar effect. With public opinion violently set against the Republican position I doubt that those up for reelection in ’08 have much wind for a fight over this.
At least one Republican has plenty of wind:
Within an hour of Pelosi’s news conference, House Republican Leader John Boehner attacked the measure. He said Democrats were proposing legislation that amounted to ”establishing and telegraphing to our enemy a timetable” that would result in failure of the U.S. military mission in Iraq.
This comes close to the stupidest criticism I have ever heard. Unless America plans to stay in Iraq forever (we don’t. right, Rep. Boehner?) we will eventually “telegraph to the enemy” that we are leaving. If we follow the appropriate withdrawal procedure the Army will start packing its bags six months or more before the actual departure date, which the non-retards among our “enemies” will recognize immediately. You can’t slip 200,000 Americans and equipment out of a foreign country unnoticed.
Then there is the small matter of those who could use some advance warning. Supposedly Iraq has a sovereign government whose security will be (slightly) impacted by losing the bulk of our Army. Leaving without giving Maliki or his successor enough time to plan for the adjustment borders on criminal. Telling the Iraqi government, of course, more or less implies telling America’s enemies since the distinction often amounts to the difference between a hobby and a day job.
Boehner also declares that strategy should be set by Gen. David Petraeus and not “politicians” like Nancy Pelosi and Jack Murtha. Really? Think about what happened when Gen. Casey, David Petraeus’s predecessor, resisted the idea of expanding our presence in Iraq. The president fired him and swapped in a general who would do it. Despite the C-in-C title that Bush & co. repeat like a mantra, George Bush is a civilian. Nancy Pelosi and Jack Murtha are civilians. If he hadn’t blown his Congressional majority on corruption and demagoguery (and had even a vestigial interest in overriding his President) Boehner would also be a civilian with legitimate influence on military policy. Maybe Boehner wants to live in a country where military generals dictate strategy to the civilians; I don’t.
Any way you cut it John Boehner would serve himself better by sitting this one out.
On reflection, this ought to be called the Pulling the GOP’s Nuts Out Of The Fire bill. Everybody knows that staying in Iraq will break the GOP’s back in ’08. Most congresscritters, especially Republicans, are desperate for a way out but can’t stand the thought of losing face.
Voila – let the Dems force us out of Iraq. It will cauterize the GOP’s gaping wound just in time for the ’08 elections and let the same GOPers who refused to exercise even the most minimal oversight when the war was underway blame the Dems for losing Iraq. It’s a two-fer.
Further, the Dems will own whatever bad things inevitably come from pulling out of Iraq. If his party doesn’t own the fallout then the President has less of a reason to open diplomatic channels with Iraq neighbors Iran and Syria. Say that the region does fall into chaos. Now it’s the fault of Congress who didn’t let the president send in eleventy jillion fresh boots to force the Sadrists to make nice with the Sunnis and then shoot their way into Tehran and tear down the statue of Hitler. It could have happened!
It seems appropriate to describe this bill as a politically dumb and policy smart. If it works I have a hard time not seeing the Dems pay a significant price for doing the right thing.
Or the bill could be more meaningless posturing.
Generalissimo Kos Subcomandante Kagro X is skeptical.