But that approach may be all but dead, according to several Democratic lawmakers. Murtha doomed his own plan in part by unveiling it on a left-wing Web site, inflaming party moderates.And Rahm Emanuel is quite public about how it's all about political calculation to him.
"Congress has no business micromanaging a war, cutting off funding or even conditioning those funds," said Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), a leading Democratic moderate, who called Murtha's whole effort "clumsy."
Cooper's position underscores the challenges now facing the House Democratic leadership. While the caucus's liberal wing is demanding legislation to end the war almost immediately, moderates such as Cooper say Congress should focus on oversight of the war and stay away from legislation that encroaches on the war powers of the president.
"I think Congress begins to skate on thin ice when we start to micromanage troop deployments and rotations," said Texas's Edwards, whose views reflect those of several other Democrats from conservative districts.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) pointed out that Democrats still have public opinion strongly on their side and that a vote on any plan would place Republicans in more jeopardy than Democrats.Remember that statement when you listen to the Democratic congressmen debating what to do in Iraq. They want to "place Republicans in more jeopardy than Democrats." Putting our troops in jeopardy is not the issue for them. Republicans are.
The newest idea is to rewrite the authorization to use force. This is what Senate Democratic leaders are working on now and they've been leaking news of their idea, perhaps to see how it plays on the Sunday shows.
Senior Senate Democrats, stepping up their confrontation with President Bush over Iraq policy, are preparing legislation that would limit the role of United States troops there to counterterrorism efforts and prohibit them from interceding in sectarian violence.How exactly the troops are supposed to be able to determine beforehenad whether the dangers they face in Iraq come from Al Qaeda or are part of sectarian strife is not clear. This is what happens when lawyers and politicians write rules of engagement rather than military commanders. We can hope that this will fade away as Murtha's idea seems to be doing. Our armed forces in Iraq don't need to be worrying about whether they're shooting at a Sunni or Shiite bomber rather than the approved Al Qaeda terrorist. These guys don't flash their identification papers before attacking.
Senate officials said Thursday that the proposal now being drafted would be a new turn in their attempts to force the White House to halt its troop buildup in Baghdad. They described it as more substantive than the nonbinding resolution of opposition to the increase that stalled in the Senate last Saturday.
The officials would speak only if not identified because the central proposal was still being drafted and needs to be presented to all Senate Democrats when they return from a weeklong recess next Tuesday.
They said the proposal was intended to essentially overturn the 2002 resolution granting Mr. Bush the authority to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and limit the military to combating Al Qaeda in Iraq, keeping Iraq fromac becoming a haven for terrorists and training Iraqi forces. The proposal’s goal, officials said, would be to allow combat forces not engaged in those duties to be removed from Iraq next year.
One of my former students just returned to visit after having been serving on and off since 2003 with the Marines in Iraq. He complained that they are already being bound by rules saying they couldn't shoot at anyone unless they were attacked first and that this rule of engagement was endangering his men. I can just imagine what he'd say about this new idea.
The Democrats in Congress seem determined to do something, anything to show that they are against the war in Iraq.
Lawmakers and senior aides said that such a plan was unlikely to pass Congress, and even if it did, it would certainly be vetoed by President Bush. But Democrats say their intention is to keep pressure on both Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans who are facing a public frustrated with the war. Democrats say that other Iraq proposals are likely to emerge as well.Hey, message received. We know you're against the war and determined to show your political supporters that you are and to force Republicans to register votes to stop you. But stop these ideas of micromanaging the war from the halls of Congress. As Charles Krauthammer writes today, this is no way to end a war.
There is something exceedingly strange about authorizing the use of force -- except for combat. That is an oxymoron. Changing the language of authorization means -- if it means anything -- that Petraeus will have to surround himself with lawyers who will tell him, every time he wants to deploy a unit, whether he is ordering a legal "support" mission or an illegal "combat" mission.
If Levin wants to withdraw our forces from the civil war in the cities to more secure bases from which we can continue training and launching operations against al-Qaeda, he should present that to the country as an alternative to (or a fallback after) the administration's troop surge. But to force it on our commanders through legalisms is simply to undermine their ability to fight the war occurring on the ground today.
Slowly bleeding our forces by defunding what our commanders think they need to win (the House approach) or rewording the authorization of the use of force so that lawyers decide what operations are to be launched (the Senate approach) is no way to fight a war. It is no way to end a war. It is a way to complicate the war and make it inherently unwinnable -- and to shirk the political responsibility for doing so.