Iraq and the Congress: 2 Choices, For or Against

Many Democratic Senators like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have argued for years that their vote in October 2002 in favor of the Iraq AUMF was not a vote for war, but to give the President leverage. That is a crock of course. No, the stark choice presented was for war with Iraq or against war with Iraq.

Today, the choice for Congress is just as stark - for continuing the Iraq Debacle or for ending the Iraq Debacle. Democrats in Congress simply have not, and apparently will not anytime soon, accept this reality. More.

Quoted in an article discussing the latest maneuvers in Congress on Iraq, two representatives, one a Democrat, one a Republican, make this clear:

House Democratic leaders are developing an anti-war proposal that wouldn't cut off money for U.S. troops in Iraq but would require President Bush to acknowledge problems with an overburdened military. The plan could draw bipartisan support but is expected to be a tough sell to members who say they don't think it goes far enough to assuage voters angered by the four-year conflict.

Bush "hasn't to date done anything we've asked him to do, so why we would think he would do anything in the future is beyond me," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., one of a group of liberal Democrats pushing for an immediate end to the war.

. . . The House Democratic proposal brought a sharp response from Republicans on Wednesday. Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., called the plan a "fig leaf" to distract the public from what he said was Democrats' ultimate goal of cutting off funds for troops in combat. "We support full funding for our troops who are in harms way -- without strings attached," said Putnam, R-Fla., after emerging from a closed-door conference meeting.

I hope Putnam is right about the Dems' 'secret' plans. For in reality there are two positions available now - for ending the Debacle or for continuing it. Woolsey supports ending it. Putnam supports the Debacle. It is that simple. And the choice is binary. Because President George W. Bush makes it so. As Woolsey says, Bush listens to no one, except Cheney.

Many ask 'so what is a Democratic Congress to do?' With Mitch McConnell promising filibusters to all attempts to revoke the Iraq AUMF, cap troop levels and to cut funding for the Iraq Debacle, what is it I am asking of the Democratic Congress.

Let me explain again - I ask for three things: First, announce NOW that the Democratic Congress will NOT fund the Iraq Debacle after a date certain. You pick the date. Whatever works politically. If October 2007 is the date Dems can agree to, then let it be then. If March 2008, then let that be the date; Second, spend the year reminding the President and the American People every day that Democrats will not fund the war past the date certain; Third, do NOT fund the Iraq Debacle PAST the date certain.

Some argue we will never have the votes for this. That McConnell will filibuster, that Bush will veto. To them I say I KNOW. But that does not fund the Iraq Debacle. Let me repeat, to end the war in Iraq, the Democratic Congress does not have to pass a single bill, they need only NOT pass bills that fund the Iraq Debacle.

But but but, defund the whole government? Defund the whole military? What if Bush does not pull out the troops? First, no, not defund the government, defund the Iraq Debacle. If the Republicans choose to shut down government in order to force the continuation of the Iraq Debacle, do not give in. Fight the political fight. We'll win. Second, defund the military? See answer to number one. Third, well, if you tell the American People what is coming for a year, and that Bush is on notice, that it will be Bush abandoning the troops in Iraq, we can win that politcal battle too.

Understand this, if you want to end the Iraq Debacle, this is the only way until Bush is not President. If you are not for this approach for ending the war, tell me what you do support. I think this is the only way. And if you shy away from the only way to end the Debacle, then you really are not for ending it are you?

One of my favorite writers, Martin Cruz Smith, in his novel "Havana", in reference to the neumaticos, the Ccuban fisherman who go out on inner tubes fishing in shark infested waters, wrote:

'What exactly couid a neumatico do while his friend is being eaten by a shark?' 'Well we have a lot of religions in Cuba to choose from.'

But that does not hold for us regarding Bush and Iraq, we have only one religion to choose from - defunding the war. And this religion can answer our prayers and end the Iraq Debacle.

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    I'm afraid the problem is larger (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Peaches on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:01:59 AM EST
    Than for or against the Iraq war. I think Chalmers Johnson gets it right. It is really a choice between a domestic democracy or imperialism. We can hope congress gets the message from citizens, but our representatives hands our tied by the money and interests that get them elected. End the Iraq war without ending our imperial empire and another war will soon follow in the Iraq war wake. Defund the war without ending our empire and there will still be bases in Iraq and throughout the ME destabilizing the region. We cannot ask Congress to end out imperial ambitions and conquests until we the people truly have representative in the congress that represent us instead of the moneyed interests who run and are interdependent with congress, the military, and the CIA. Chalmers:

    to maintain an empire requires a very large standing army, huge expenditures on arms that leads to a military-industrial complex, and generally speaking, a vicious cycle sets up of interests that lead to perpetual series of wars.
    It goes back to probably the earliest warning ever delivered to us by our first president, George Washington, in his famous farewell address. It's read at the opening of every new session of Congress. Washington said that the great enemy of the republic is standing armies; it is a particular enemy of republican liberty. What he meant by it is that it breaks down the separation of powers into an executive, legislative, and judicial branches that are intended to check each other -- this is our most fundamental bulwark against dictatorship and tyranny -- it causes it to break down, because standing armies, militarism, military establishment, military-industrial complex all draw power away from the rest of the country to Washington, including taxes, that within Washington they draw it to the presidency, and they begin to create an imperial presidency, who then implements the military's desire for secrecy, making oversight of the government almost impossible for a member of Congress, even, much less for a citizen. It seems to me that this is also the same warning that Dwight Eisenhower gave in his famous farewell address of 1961, in which he, in quite vituperative language, quite undiplomatic language -- one ought to go back and read Eisenhower. He was truly alarmed when he spoke of the rise of a large arms industry that was beyond supervision, that was not under effective control of the interests of the military-industrial complex, a phrase that he coined. We know from his writings that he intended to say a military-industrial-congressional complex. He was warned off from going that far. But it's in that sense that I believe the nexus -- or, that is, the incompatibility between domestic democracy and foreign imperialism comes into being.

    Congress is elected, Bush is elected (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:04:35 AM EST
    I think that is claptrap personally.

    Elected By Whom? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Peaches on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:18:09 AM EST
    Not you, right?

    First, There is the problem of election funding and who the congrespeople are beholden too. Personally, you think this is claptrap, but personally, you don't have a say in the elections of US presidents and congresspersons. Frankly, however, my say is not much more - even if I get a vote.

    But, aside from that, there is the fact of congressional oversight of the president and his secret army in the CIA. Our system of government is a democracy and democracies thrive on more than elections. They have elections in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Russia...

    We need more than elections to save our democracy.


    Yes (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:23:15 AM EST
    elected by people who vote.

    I do not much care for these ar guments that if the American PEople do not agree with me , that they are then dupes of the "monied interests."

    I call it claptrap.


    ClapTrap (none / 0) (#13)
    by Peaches on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:35:22 AM EST
    It is an effective way to dismiss an argument, I'll give you that -- But, then, tell me BTD, who is really being pretentious and insincere?

    It is not a matter of getting our representatives to agree with me. It is a matter of getting representive who know and care about our democracy. I am not that impressed with finding people who agree with me. I know my views are way too out there for that to happen. Personally, since we both seem to be impressed with making personal pronouncements, I find people who I disagree with the most to be much more pleasant company than the ones I share agreement with.

    I care about our democracy and the expansion of American militarism around the world since WWII. I  agree with Chalmers that they are mutually exclusive goals. But, then again, maybe, like Chalmers, I am just trying to impress hard core realists like yourself with empty language.


    Well (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:10:55 PM EST
    My apologies. I thik it  is not an argument worth much discussion myself. But I do apologize for how I brusquely pushed it aside.

    PErhaps others will take up the question.


    Fixed link (none / 0) (#6)
    by Peaches on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:06:02 AM EST
    Peaches, what % of the budget (none / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:22:01 AM EST
    is for defense spending?


    If you want something to worry about, consider that 65% is for so called "entittlements" and are completely on autopilot. Worse, Social Security revenues will soon start to decrease sharply, while outlays sky rocket. Same for Medicare and Medicaid.

    So your arguments aren't based on cost, but on your belief that we should not have an army, or at least one that we can't project outside the US.

    What that means, of course, is that we will fight only on our soil.

    I think you live someplace in the midwest.

    Good choice.


    Minnesota - (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peaches on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:41:51 AM EST
    You can't scare us midwesterns with your Rhetoric, Jim, anymore than we can scare you about global warming.

    But, I lived four years in NY and was there on 9/11/01 and my views have evolved, but I was anti-war back then too.


    Peaches, it's nice to excahnge comments (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:17:59 PM EST
    with someone who is honest. You are a rare commodity around here.

    BTW - MY comment re the Midwest was on its relatibe safety as compared to all three coasts.

    And I think your ant-war position is what has overcome your good judgement and commonsense. Let's see what happens when the next attack happens.


    Likewise, Jim :) (none / 0) (#20)
    by Peaches on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:22:15 PM EST
    I think your pro-military position has overcome your good judgement and commonsense. ;)

    I'm on the coast...... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 06:01:47 PM EST
    and you know how I feel Jim.

    Offense might rack up the points, but defense wins championships.


    How do you craft the legislation so they can't (none / 0) (#1)
    by TexDem on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:39:07 AM EST
    rob Peter to pay for Paul? What sort of disincentives/penalties do you put in the defunding bill? Do you link other DOD funding to some sort of schedule for the withdrawal? Do you attach penalties to big ticket projects; no money for F-22 until X happens?

    I ask because I truly don't trust this bunch. I see them pulling funds from all over DOD to keep the soldiers/Marines in Iraq. Some projects I wouldn't mind defunding (ie; another golf course for the officers, let them play at a public course). But others, and the ones more likely to be targets (family support) I would want to protect, but that means Congress getting into the minutia of day to day operations.  

    there is a viable 3rd option: (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:55:25 AM EST
    do nothing. that's always an option. not a good option, but an option nonetheless.

    a fair point texdem, one i've been pondering myself, since the prospect of defunding first came up: how to keep them from draining resources from elsewhere?

    you can't, really, absent a law specifically targeting this approach. even at that, with the complexity of today's systems, it would be nearly impossible to actually keep it from happening.

    the one way to do it would be for it to come to light in the media, from those working in the affected agencies. good internal controls would also be helpful.

    aside from that, you'd have to depend on the personal integrity of the parties in question.

    never mind.

    Ain't gonna happen (none / 0) (#3)
    by HeadScratcher on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 09:09:06 AM EST
    Dems aren't going to defund the war. Clinton and Kerry, and the others are liars about their Iraq votes. And they are all lying now.

    This could end tomorrow if they wanted it to. It could have ended last week.

    For 6 years we've heard from the Dem leadership that they didn't have the power to do anything. Now they have it and they just whine and point fingers. Do something! Show some backbone!

    Big Tent (none / 0) (#7)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:07:02 AM EST
    If you are not for this approach for ending the war, tell me what you do support.

    You write as if the only correct thing to do is end the war. Cut (Our lossess) and Run(Leave the battlefield to our enemies. Also called Surrender.)

    First, we haven't lost except in the mind of the anti-war Left and what I now, based on their actions, call the Despicable Demos Leadership (DDL.

    What have we accomplished?

    1. Whether or not Saddam had WMD's, we know they aren't there now. Unsettled is the question did he destroy them before it became apparent we were coming in, destroy them in 1998 during the bombing by the Clinton Administration, sometimes between then and later,or did he manage to hide/get them to Syria when he realized that we were coming in.

    My guess is that it was a combination of all three.

    2. We also know that, based on David Kay's reports and comments that Saddam wanted to get back into the WMD business, and he had purchased rockets with a 1000KM range, and was trying to go further.

    That has stopped.

    3. We also know, based on Fitzgerald's testimony to the 9/11 Commission that Iraq and al-Qaida had agree to cooperate on a "an enemy of my enemy is my friend" basis.

    That has stopped, although al-Qaida is busy now trying to kill Iraqis, both to terrify the Iraqis and the anti-war Left and DDL.

    4. We have also demonstrated to the world that if you pis* us off enough, we will come get you. That
    demostration may be loosing creditability with the
    continual crying of the anti-war Left and the DDL.

    5. We have also demonstrated that our intentions are to create a democratic government, and help that government become stable.

    I submit that, with the exception of the Left's and DDL's actions, these are all very good things.

    The addition of the troops is a very good change in strategy. Now all we have to do is demonstrate that we won't Cut and Run.

    Of course (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:21:58 AM EST
    I am addressing Dems who claim to want to end the war.

    If you are for the war, then why would you be for defunding it?

    hell, escalation makes much more sense for people like you. You should be complaining about the lack of commitment fromyour GOP officials.


    BTD, My point is that your position (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:27:38 PM EST
    seems to be that you are against the war because we are losing and accomplishing nothing.

    Is that correct?

    Or is it your point that you are anti-war, and oppose all wars.

    Is that correct>

    Or is it your point that you are anti-war because you hate Bush and automatically oppose everything he does?

    Please pick one, or give me another one.


    Dream On ppj (none / 0) (#12)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:24:22 AM EST
    All of your statements are either false or a brittle truth hiding a devastating truth.

    The world is much less safe since we invaded Iraq. That is a fact. It can be measured by death and destruction.

    Cut and run is something the Republicans do, because it is their term and yours. No democrat has uttered anything close to the meaning of your schoolyard taunt.

    Slogans meant to cause fear and intimidate are the hallmark of fascists, and the bedwetters that keep them propped up.


    Squeaky writes: (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:23:15 PM EST
    The world is much less safe since we invaded Iraq. That is a fact. It can be measured by death and destruction.

    Measuring a future condition based on current actions is irrational. You might as well say that the stock market will be down next year because it was Monday.

    "Cut and Run" was invented to describe the anti-war Left and you DDL's strategy on how to lose a war and endanger the country.

    Your reaction demonstrates that my points hit dead center.


    Empty Slogans (none / 0) (#25)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 05:37:31 PM EST
    Measuring a future condition based on current actions is irrational.
    Future conditions? I am talking about now. Stop making sh*t up.

    "Cut and Run" was invented to describe the anti-war Left and you DDL's strategy on how to lose a war and endanger the country.

    Cut and Run was invented to smear anyone not pro-war.  It is a right wing fiction meant to shut dowm debate by calling people cowards, chicken. School yard fascism is about all it is.

    As usual it is ppj's favorite slogan, and as usual empty of any content.


    You speak nonsense. (none / 0) (#29)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:17:05 PM EST
    The world is much less safe since we invaded Iraq. That is a fact. It can be measured by death and destruction.

    Oh really? What is your proof?? What are your bench marks?

    Smear? Squeaky talks of smearing????


    Posted by Squeaky at September 19, 2005 11:19 PM

    Rove never needed proof for his smear machine, why should I.

    Why indeed..


    forever war (none / 0) (#18)
    by Sailor on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:14:04 PM EST
    You write as if the only correct thing to do is end the war.
    And there we have it in a nutshell.

    The addition of the troops is a very good change in strategy.
    except it is not a change in strategy, it's just repackaged to look like a change. They've escalated the war before, they've used 'clear,hold & build' before. It didn't work.

    remember when bush said he'd listen to the generals? He fired them until he got some that would agree.

    Remember when he said he'd listen to the bi-partisan Iraq study group? He ignored their findings.

    Remember when he said he'd leave iraq when the iraqis wanted him too? They want us out and his solution is to send more troops.

    The rest of the lies about WMDs, and AQ/iraq/9-11 have been disproven so many times one would think someone was lying about them on purpose.


    Sailor, If you want to ignore the 9/11 (none / 0) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:33:02 PM EST
    Commission, be my guest.

    Are you also saying that WMD's NEVER existed? Now that would be a novel position.

    I never heard Bush say he would listen to the ISG and do what it recommended.

    It is his right to fire as many Generals as he wants for whatever reason he wants. Truman demonstrated that quite clearly when he prevented McCarthur from winning in Korea.


    BTD (none / 0) (#14)
    by bx58 on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 11:40:58 AM EST
    "I do not much care for these arguments that if the American people do not agree with me , that they are then dupes of the "monied interests."
    "I call it claptrap."

    So you think that our war-mongering foreign policy or bogus war on drugs or the paralell over-medication of America or the popular culture being in the toilet has nothing to do with big business or big profits?

    Not to mention the export of millions of jobs to overseas sweatshops or the 12 million+ cheap labor "undocumented aliens?"

    We could go on and on.

    Straw man (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:08:02 PM EST
    The proposition is that the choice is between democracy and imperialism because of cowardice n the Congress.

    This is claptrap. We elected this apparently spineless Congress this incompetent President.

    It is too easy to pretend the American People have had nothing to do with this.


    not quite, (none / 0) (#24)
    by Peaches on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 01:51:10 PM EST
    Thanks for the apology, above, btw. I appreciate it.  The choice between democracy at home and foriegn imperialism abroad has nothing to do with Congressional cowardice. THe Congress know who they are and whom and what they represent. It is not courage that they lack, nor is it wisdom. They are just the wrong set of people to accomplish what you are asking of them.

    After WWII the US, for security and economic reasons chose the route of imperialism and our congtessional/military/industrial policy operates with little or no oversight. The foxes are in the henhouse. Subsequently, our democracy at home has sufferred and it is getting worse all the time. Citizens have to figure out how to take back our democracy and it requires more than choosing among candidates offerred up to us at election time.

    It is an institutional framework that is to blame and not the American people, per se. Americans are, for the most part, powerless until we get off our seats and hit the streets to scare the elite (I'm a poet, don't you know it.) Elections are mere distractions. They are nothing and meaningless when conducted within our current framework and at our current income distribution in the US.


    Right on Peaches..... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 06:11:10 PM EST
    Very well said.  

    Peaches is Peaches (none / 0) (#28)
    by bx58 on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 06:54:25 PM EST
    "Americans are, for the most part, powerless until we get off our seats and hit the streets to scare the elite"

    Maybe we should block their gated communities with our Toyot"as" or force them to send their kids to the same schools as "us." What poetry.

    A thought (none / 0) (#30)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Mar 01, 2007 at 08:19:41 PM EST
    or force them to send their kids to the same schools as "us."

    Why not make our schools so good that they want to send their kids to them??


    I was thinking..... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 02, 2007 at 08:04:13 AM EST
    a parade filled with pitchforks and torches up Pennsylvania Ave.

    That describes the French Revolution (none / 0) (#33)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Mar 02, 2007 at 07:04:56 PM EST
    and we can see what that brought forth.