Fake Congressional Opposition to War- by Stephen Lendman
The US electorate sent a clear, unequivocal message in the November mid-term elections. End the Iraq war and bring home the troops. Many supporting war in the 109th Congress lost out to more moderate voices taking over their seats because voters want change and expect new faces to deliver starting with the top issue on voters' minds in recent polls - Iraq. A majority of the public demands it, protests and heated rhetoric continue building over it, and the Congress is about to disappoint again proving getting into war is easy but even an act of Congress can't get us out because doing nothing is less risky than taking a stand against the prevailing view in Washington.
So the best this Congress can offer is non-binding stuff with no meaning and a wishy binding proposal rolled out March 8 guaranteeing support for the war with billions more spending than the administration wants. It also sets a timetable for partial withdrawal far enough in the future to be laughable. It proves again expecting elections to change things in Washington is like betting on an early end to winter in Chicago. Hope springs eternal but never fails to disappoint.
The House proved it February 16 sending a pathetic non-binding no-action message repudiating the administration's decision to "surge" more troops to Iraq showing its spirit lay in its rhetoric, not in its actions where it counts. The floor language was long, loud and toothless with pieties from House Speaker Pelosi saying "We owe our troops a course of action in Iraq that is worthy of their sacrifice" but failing to provide one. So much for resolve. The Senate was even more non-binging than the House failing for second time February 17 even to pass a procedural measure to allow for a full vote on a resolution opposing more troops guaranteed to make things worse as they're sent. Once again with chips on the line, both Houses of Congress show party member profiles in courage are as rare as ones with honor and integrity or like finding a friend in a city Harry Truman once complained about saying if you want one in Washington, "get a dog."
Politics, Washington-style proves again campaign promises are empty, the criminal class is bipartisan, and the atmosphere is charged with empty rhetoric and business as usual. Instead of ending the war, Democrats propose continued war with more funding in new legislation sounding like an old Miller Lite commercial. Their plan is drafted to sound good, but not be ful-filling as it won't work and won't pass both Houses or override a presidential veto signaled by White House spokesman Dan Bartlett saying...."it's safe to say it's a nonstarter for the president." So much for Democrat intentions, good or otherwise.
The new legislation calls for withdrawing US combat troops beginning no later than 120 days following passage of legislation to be completed by September 1, 2008 in the House version and suggests March 31, 2008 only as a goal in the Senate proposal. It also calls for George Bush to certify Iraq's "government" is progressing toward established "benchmarks" July 1 and October 1 leaving that judgment to a president always claiming progress in the face of clear evidence on the ground proving otherwise.
Left out of the proposal is what Democrats like John Murtha (no dove) and other so-called "moderates" in the party wanted in it to prevent further escalation of war:
-- A call for a political, not military solution to the conflict.
-- Changing the military's mission to training, logistical support and "target(ing) anti-terrorism operations."
-- Requiring the Pentagon to abide by combat readiness and training standards to include proper equipment and enough time for recuperation.
-- Language prohibiting no further war funding after September 1, 2008.
-- Mandating deployment extensions not exceed 365 days for the Army and 210 days for Marine units. Unmentioned is why should there be any let alone what right have we to be there in the first place.
-- On March 12 the Democrat leadership backed off further announcing their proposal will exclude any limitation on Bush's unilateral right to attack Iran, including with nuclear weapons, bowing to the demands of the Israeli Lobby and Republican hawks.
When it emerges in final form, legislation from both Houses will be another lesson in Politics 101 - same old, same old meaning both parties in both Houses support imperialism on the march, and Congress will do nothing to stop it, rhetoric aside intended only to soothe, comfort and again deceive the electorate.
This proposal gives George Bush unrestricted power to continue waging war masquerading beneath rhetoric to curtail him. It provides near-unlimited continued funding giving him cover in the name of national security to act as he pleases, placing no restraint on his deploying as many additional combat brigades and support troops as he wants, with no restrictions on how long they'll remain. It also allows an undetermined number of US forces to stay in Iraq in perpetuity the way they still are in Germany, Japan and South Korea proving when America shows up anywhere we're not leaving - ever.
Congressional Democrats have also larded their bills with funding for Afghanistan, relocation of US troops from bases in Europe and Asia, homeland security, veterans' health care (far too little), farm disaster aid, Gulf Coast recovery and flu pandemic preparation in the usual kind of hodge-podge legislation always coming from Congress likely to add still more provisions costing more billions in its final form. In hopes of getting enough votes for passage, this and other small print pork ad-ons lard the bills the usual way things are done on Capitol Hill. No need to guess who picks up the tab.