Thursday, February 15, 2007

John Murtha's New Plan for Ending the War

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John Murtha is spearheading a new strategy for ending the war in Iraq:

Top House Democrats, working in concert with anti-war groups, have decided against using congressional power to force a quick end to U.S. involvement in Iraq, and instead will pursue a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration's options.

Led by Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., and supported by several well-funded anti-war groups, the coalition's goal is to limit or sharply reduce the number of U.S. troops available for the Iraq conflict, rather than to openly cut off funding for the war itself.

The legislative strategy will be supplemented by a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign designed to pressure vulnerable GOP incumbents into breaking with President Bush and forcing the administration to admit that the war is politically unsustainable.

As described by participants, the goal is crafted to circumvent the biggest political vulnerability of the anti-war movement -- the accusation that it is willing to abandon troops in the field. That fear is why many Democrats have remained timid in challenging Bush, even as public support for the president and his Iraq policies have plunged.
[...]
Murtha, the powerful chairman of the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, will seek to attach a provision to an upcoming $93 billion supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. It would restrict the deployment of troops to Iraq unless they meet certain levels [of] adequate manpower, equipment and training to succeed in combat. That's a standard Murtha believes few of the units Bush intends to use for the surge would be able to meet.

In addition, Murtha, acting with the backing of the House Democratic leadership, will seek to limit the time and number of deployments by soldiers, Marines and National Guard units to Iraq, making it tougher for Pentagon officials to find the troops to replace units that are scheduled to rotate out of the country. Additional funding restrictions are also being considered by Murtha, such as prohibiting the creation of U.S. military bases inside Iraq, dismantling the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and closing the American detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Predictably, the right is in a tizzy -- I suspect because taking the long way around might actually work, and it's a tactic that can't be effectively squelched with a filibuster. If the Republicans went that route, Democrats could use the stalled spending bill to pressure congressional war supporters into accepting Murtha's restrictions on troop deployment.

Hot Air's Bryan Preston is spitting mad:

If you oppose the war and truly want us out of Iraq, put your own name on the line and move to cut funding. Put your name on your policy. If, as Barack Obama said, you think we’re wasting lives in this war, then the honorable thing to do is to stop that waste immediately. Put your name on your policy as well as its outcome. Not conduct a “slow bleed” strategy that is the political equivalent of the strategy that the terrorists and insurgents have themselves deployed on the ground. We have truly reached a new low in this country when the Speaker of the House and her favorite henchman are running a strategy that will definitely get American troops killed for a war they lack the courage to stop in their own names.

BooMan notes the chutzpah:

It's kind of amusing to read Hot Air's response to Jack Murtha's slow bleed plan for ending the war. It boils down to this:

Murtha is going to try to make it impossible for the President to find the troops he would need to maintain the war in Iraq. He will try to do this by attaching amendments to the 'upcoming $93 billion supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan.' Multiple deployments will be capped, units will have to meet equipment and manpower requirements to deploy, etc.

Now, the right-wing is seeing this as some kind of treason. And they want Democrats to simply cut off funding if they oppose the war, not strangle the deployment process. I would actually sympathize with their argument if we could actually overcome a Republican filibuster and cut off funding. But we can't, so this is the only option for ending the war. And that is just the way it is.

Dan Riehl is so distraught that he links approvingly to an AP article that he describes as an intriguing Bush administration idea to offer illegal immigrants a fast track to citizenship in exchange for joining the military, but that is actually an article about the military increasing the number of waivers it gives to potential enlistees with criminal records (including convicted felons). The article has nothing to do with illegal immigrants.

Brad Plumer, writing at New Republic Online, thinks the Murtha plan comes with an ingenious hook for snagging Republican support:

The clever part, I imagine, is that not many Republicans will want to vote for sending troops into combat without adequate equipment and training. No idea if Murtha's plan will actually work, although grassroots organizations are planning to spend over $8 million on ads and lobbying efforts to get the proposal through the Senate.

I'm thinking along the same lines as Steve Benen:

I don’t know all of the details, but for what it’s worth, the right seems to be nearly apoplectic about Murtha’s plan, which leads me to think it probably has merit. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Chief said...

Nothing wrong with making sure that the troops have all the training and equipment that they need. That is aupporting the troops.