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Democratic Leaders Take Charge, Joe Biden Stands Tall, The Surge Battle Is Joined

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Joe Biden should receive standing ovations and support for joining the battle and opposing the surge.

It is now time for leading Senate Republicans such as Senator Warner and Senator Lugar to join Democratic Leaders and military leaders and say no to the surge and the escalation it represents.

Giving credit where due: the story was first
reported, last night, on Huffington Post.

One of the most important developments in Washington this week is that Joe Biden is making his move, unequivocally opposing the troop surge in Iraq, and developing real and actionable lines of attack.


Congressional Democratic Leaders are ready to lead and prepared to govern and now speak with conscience and clarity.


The Democratic Congress is now officially in place.

Here are some facts about the troops surge:

One. The overwhelming weight of leadership military opinion is against the surge. In the Friday Washington Post it is reported that the Joint Chiefs are still actively trying to persuade the President that the negatives of the surge outweigh the positives.

Two. Therefore, it is impossible for Senators or Members of the House to claim they support the military leaders, yet also support the surge. Everyone in official Washington knows that the overwhelming majority of military leaders in fact believe the surge is a dreadful idea.

Senators or Members of Congress who want to support the surge should a) be honest that they are opposing the military judgment of most of our military leaders and b) should be directly challenged if they state they support the surge without honestly admitting that they oppose the strong majority view of military leaders.

Three. What today is President is doing what I call "the purge for the surge" This does NOT change anything. The majority view of military commanders is opposed to the surge. The President has NOT stood by the commanders no matter how many times he has claimed he did.

Four years later than they should have, EVERY member of the press corps should DIRECTLY challenge the President at ALL public media opportunities about why he has so often been so disrespectful of high level military judgment.

Four. If the United States Senate took a secret vote on the troop surge, 85 Senators would oppose it, including many of the most senior and respected Senate Republicans.

What is needed, above all, would be for a group of leading Senate Republicans to visit the White House, close the door, and tell President Bush, as Barry Goldwater once told President Nixon: we must not escalate this war, you must pull back, Mr. President, not dig deeper.

Fifth. From the very beginning of this war, the greatest dereliction of duty is that there have not been high level resignations in protest from either civilian or uniformed officers who knew these disastrous policies were disastrous, but played along.

And: that so many senior Republicans who knew these decisions were wrong, have gone along with policies they knew were mistaken, for political convenience. What an indictment for Senator Dick Lugar to say this week that the President has egregiously ignored even the Republican Congress, when Senator Lugar was the Republican Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. (Why didn't he say this when he was Chairman?)

And: that so many Democrats have said things such as "I might support the surge because our military leaders know best" (when military leaders oppose the surge), or "its the job of the President to offer a policy" (when Congress is a co-equal branch of government and it is THEIR responsibility, as well).

Having worked for the Democratic Leadership in Congress when Tip and Jim Wright were Speaker, I promise all: first, that having the majority control requires responsibility and leadership beyond saying "its the president's war". Now, the Democratic Leaders have accepted this responsibility on Iraq, and a historic battle has been joined in real time, today.

What Joe Biden has done, is step to the plate with real leadership and take the position, without any equivocation, that the surge is wrong, period.

Beyond this, what Joe Biden has done, is begin circulating hard, actionable proposals that will have an impact and make a difference. He is now circulating an important opening bid, a Congressional Resolution that would flat-out oppose the surge, and put Democrats and Republicans on record, yes or no.

What will happen if Senator Biden introduces this proposal, is: leading Republican Senators who privately oppose the surge, would be horrified at the possibility of publicly supporting it, and would urgently do what they should have done long ago: tell the President this policy has got to end, and this war must not be escalated.

Finally for now, Senator Biden has made some extremely interesting comments, especially his suggest that both Rumsfeld and Cheney have concluded "they cant fix it" (Friday Washington Post). I do not know for certain if the Vice President definitely believes this, but the implications are enormous if, in fact, he does.

In the meantime, watch what Senator Biden says (clearly opposing the surge) but even more important, what he does (offering impact proposals that would make a difference).

Giving credit where it is due: Senator Biden is showing real leadership at a critical moment and those of us who oppose the surge should recognize his contribution.

It is now exciting, positive and potential historic that Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi have weighed in, with flags flying, on the side of right, truth our military leaders against this escalation.

Bravo to them all. The battle begins in earnest.
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Brent Budowsky is a regular columnist on He served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served (more...)

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