Foreign Policy

The Iraq Vote

I spent half of Wednesday in Annapolis at the Naval Academy. It is graduation week for some of America's finest young men and women.

Among those I congratulated are some who, within weeks, will be serving in Iraq. Within the year, some of them, sadly, probably will be dead.

These young men and women of courage and valor are putting their lives in trust to the good judgment and good faith of the president and Democratic and Republican leaders in the Congress.

Blank check for George Bush

No blank check.

For months, that’s what congressional Democrats promised: On funding the war in Iraq, no blank check for George Bush. The only way they would continue funding the war, they insisted, was to include a timetable, even a non-binding timetable, for bringing our troops home.

No blank check. Yet here we are, approaching Memorial Day. And what have Democrats agreed to on Iraq? Giving Bush a blank check.

Why? One reason, of course — and I understand this — is that Democrats don’t have enough votes. If only they had a veto-proof majority, this would never have happened.

No timeline? No surprise

The Democrats are dropping a timeline for withdrawal in their bill to fund the Iraq war, and who is surprised? Despite the strong weight of those 171 recent votes in favor of withdrawal, leaders know that number — hefty though it may be — isn't veto-proof, and this whole game is about the veto. Democrats have made the flavor last a long time, through March and April and May, while the White House told the public the troops are going to be compromised if the funds dry up. Memorial Day approaches; the Democrats know this is over.

Sure, there will be some benchmarks for political progress, and the threat of withholding aid, and more importantly, there will be Republican votes for the bill. Large numbers of anti-war Democrats could drop off the bandwagon this time, but with the help of the GOP the majority doesn't need them anymore. Republicans, who opposed the timetables because they didn't want to announce a withdrawal date to the enemy, have turned around and done it to themselves: They have announced to the opposition party exactly when they will leave the Bush reservation and begin to oppose the war in earnest. They have said clearly that in September, if Gen. Petraeus can't give the surge a good report card, there better be a Plan B or they cannot continue to support the war.

Democrats Better Get Their Act Together on War Funding

Late last night, I watched Rudy Giuliani on “Late Night with David Letterman.” Surprisingly, Letterman got into some pretty substantive discussions about issues like Iraq. Letterman asked the former New York mayor about timetables and the cut-off dates, and to big applause, Rudy said that he didn’t understand why we would give the enemy our plans to surrender.

This is in New York and Rudy got some big applause. Maybe the Democrats aren’t winning this rhetorical war after all.

One thing that won’t be forgiven by the American people is incompetence when it comes to funding our troops when they are in a real war. The Democrats can hem and haw all they want. But they better get the money to the troops before they leave for the Memorial Day recess.

Dem presidential hopefuls tangled up on Iraq

Why should the Democrats, especially the presidential candidates, try to one-up each other on Iraq? Dates, timetables with conditions, without conditions, benchmarks, funding clauses and sub-clauses. Do they really think that voters next January are going to look back and research which version of which bill they supported? Do they really think that is going to determine who the presidential nominee will be?

Is it really helpful to have MoveOn spending hard-earned money running negative TV ads against Carl Levin and Steny Hoyer because they didn’t vote for the Feingold or McGovern amendments? Is this the right message to send? I doubt it.

The simple fact is this: Either the Republicans are going to continue to move off Bush by the fall and call for an end to this war, or they are going to lead the ship of state into an iceberg. And they will pay dearly in the November 2008 elections. Democrats are already basically united against the current policy; they are the ones pushing for change, the ones keeping the pressure on the president every day. Voters get that.

Send Colin Powell To Push Iraq Cease-fire Talks

Congress should propose and the president should appoint Colin Powell for a political and diplomatic mission to meet with parties in Iraq and seek a political breakthrough leading to a Cease-fire and political solution to end the Shi'ite-Sunni civil war.

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair should appoint incoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown to mobilize an international consortium to develop a substantial economic package that begins when a cease-fire takes effect.

While the status quo policy including the so-called compromises currently on the table promises war without end and carnage without hope, there is a better way that would appeal to the hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of Iraqis.

For proof that success can still be achieved in Iraq, one need only look to the historical precedents of Ireland, South Africa and El Salvador, when armed combatants ended their wars and joined the political process.

Cancel Memorial Day Recess and Support The Troops

Now an NBC investigative report and other analysts believe our military is not using the best body armor protection for our troops in Iraq.

The current system, Interceptor, is being used, while an alternative system, Dragon Skin, has tested better in independent tests. The original creator of Interceptor publicly states that the Dragon Skin system would be safer and more mobile for the troops and should be used.

From here, we cannot conclusively decide which system is better, but emergency tests are possible and the issue should be resolved ASAP.

Meanwhile, while Congress heads towards the all-important recess, there remain major abuses and shortcomings in the treatment of wounded troops. 

Dem Iraq Dodge Won’t Buy Relief

The Democrats hope that by attempting, symbolically, to force a timetable for withdrawal and then failing they will appease the left sufficiently to cave into White House demands for a pretty clean funding bill. But the left will not be easily fooled. The four Democratic senators running for president all sided with 26 of their colleagues to support an Iraq funding bill with a withdrawal provision attached. Now that that bill has failed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will trot happily to the White House to raise the white flag and support a war-funding bill with only token restrictions. If Clinton, Obama, Biden and Dodd vote for this compromise they will be voting themselves into a perilously weak position in the presidential primaries. But if Clinton and Obama vote against the compromise, their votes will leave John Edwards without a campaign platform and will guarantee a two-way race on Feb. 5. If they split — with Clinton backing the compromise and Obama opposing it — it will breathe new life into the Obama candidacy.

Stress Fractures Within the GOP Over Iraq War

I believe there's a looming battle in the Republican Party over what America's role in the world should be, and the Iraq war spending bill may very well bring this fight out into the open in a matter of months, if not weeks.

From my point of view, and it is a view shared by many conservatives who e-mail and call me, none of the GOP presidential candidates is offering a coherent, thoughtful, philosophical explanation of what the future of U.S. foreign policy ought to be. To say we must fight terrorism isn't enough. It's too nebulous.

Today, Mitt Romney's campaign launched a new ad in which the former Massachusetts governor suggests now is not the time for America to "shrink from conservative principles" but rather to "stand in strength" so that we might remain "the world's military superpower." How, you ask? By rebuilding our military and leading a "great coalition of strength." For whom? "For our families, for our future, for America."

Bitter Pill to Swallow

What must it be like? Dick Cheney sitting in the U.S. compound in Iraq, more highly fortified than Fort Knox, as the windows shake, the plaster cracks, and a bomb goes off outside.

Mr. "Red Carpet," Mr. "Greeted as Liberators," Mr. "Last Throes" — now he has to explain, to all in the room, the disaster that he has created. The generals who served are now creating TV ads that denounce this administration for not listening to the troops on the ground, those in charge, as they kept telling Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush that the war was failing and that they could not control the civil strife.

We had the chance to pull out many times, starting with the moment we captured Saddam. We had the chance to turn over the job of being the policeman to the police on the ground, except that Bremer fired them.