The House is debating a resolution this week expressing Congress’ disapproval of the President’s escalation of over 20,000 troops. Over 36 hours of debate have been scheduled, allowing every member of the House five minutes to express their views on Iraq and the President’s surge option.
The language of the resolution is simple but direct. It has two parts, the first stating that “Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq.” This language leaves no doubt that Congress supports our U.S. servicemen and women. These brave soldiers were not the authors of our Iraq policy. They are simply our defenders who go and fight where their political leaders send them. It is not their job to question their commanders. That’s Congress’ role, a role that was relinquished by the former Republican majority over the last four years.
The second half of the resolution states, “Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.” As you are well aware, the President has called for 21,500 more troops to be sent to Iraq. He claims that with these additional forces, the violence in Baghdad can be quelled and the fledging Iraqi government will be able to stand on its own.
I find that wishful thinking at best and a bold-faced fallacy at worst. The sectarian violence in Iraq – Sunnis vs. Shiite – has been going on for centuries. Saddam Hussein was an evil man, but his repressive tactics kept the lid on hostilities during his reign. When we deposed him, pent up hostilities and violent power plays were unleashed in predictable fashion. Unfortunately, the administration ignored those warnings, instead taking solace in lofty rhetoric about spreading democracy and helping freedom loving people. This same rhetoric has led to over 3,100 U.S. troop deaths and over $400 billion in wasted tax-payer dollars.
Some will argue that the Iraq resolution considered this week by Congress doesn’t have the impact of a law, that it won’t stop a roadside bomb or bring a single soldier home to their family.
Those people are wrong. The President and his advisors understand full well what this resolution means. It means the beginning of the end for our troops being put in harm’s way, refereeing a fight between two religious factions that has been going on for 1000 years.
If the President does not heed Congress’ opposition to his escalation plans, the next legislation we consider on Iraq will not be non-binding. It will be clear, direct and put the clamp on any attempt by the President to send more troops to Iraq.