A Clean Military Funding Bill? (Update)

Found this on Captain’s Quarters blog (AP article):

In grudging concessions to President Bush, Democrats intend to draft an Iraq war-funding bill without a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and shorn of billions of dollars in spending on domestic programs, officials said Monday.

The legislation would include the first federal minimum wage increase in more than a decade, a top priority for the Democrats who took control of Congress in January, the officials added.

While details remain subject to change, the measure is designed to close the books by Friday on a bruising veto fight between Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress over the war. It would provide funds for military operations in Iraq through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

They will still stick in the unrelated wage hike but the ridiculous timelines will be gone. We’ll see if this sticks.

Not to worry, though, come September, we’ll probably go through this all over again.

UPDATE: Bob Kerrey (former Senator, D-NE) has written an opinion entitled “The Left’s Iraq Muddle“. This is a must read (go to link). Some snippets:

No matter how incompetent the Bush administration and no matter how poorly they chose their words to describe themselves and their political opponents, Iraq was a larger national security risk after Sept. 11 than it was before. And no matter how much we might want to turn the clock back and either avoid the invasion itself or the blunders that followed, we cannot. The war to overthrow Saddam Hussein is over. What remains is a war to overthrow the government of Iraq.

Some who have been critical of this effort from the beginning have consistently based their opposition on their preference for a dictator we can control or contain at a much lower cost. From the start they said the price tag for creating an environment where democracy could take root in Iraq would be high. Those critics can go to sleep at night knowing they were right.

The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart. [referring to Sen. Biden, D-DE]

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq’s middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically “yes.”

This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified–though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.

Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn’t have lasted a week.

…I believe it is possible to build what doesn’t exist today in Washington: a bipartisan strategy to deal with the long-term threat of terrorism.

This just brushes the surface of his point.  The article is actually quite short, but to the point.  Again, I highly recommend reading the full opinion.

8 thoughts on “A Clean Military Funding Bill? (Update)

  1. Why don’t the Democrats simply let Bush’s veto stand? Then the occupation of Iraq has to end, when the money runs out.

  2. Bob Kerry apparently has not been paying attention for the last four years. The US Army and Marine Corps, even with help from the British Army and other foreign contingents, plus loads of private mercenaries, do not have the capability to bring security to Iraq.

    Only Iraqis can do it, and they want us out because there can be no legitimate Iraqi government under a US occupation.

  3. Iraqis do not want us out until security is established. This is another constant topic each side has a plethora of polls on. Look at some of the milblogs, though, and see what the ground forces say. I’ve seen several not that the Iraqis are happy to see the US forces, under the new plan, coming back into areas they had previously left.

    Kerrey is right about reducing our military commitment to the region. He’s looking long term (even the link you used notes he was looking at a twenty year time frame). As democratic principles spread, stable governments form which are less likely to wage conflicts. Good reading on why such governments are less likely to be aggressive or capricious can be found in the Federalist Papers.

    Insurgencies always take a long time to quell (I’ve noted this before) and new forms of government take time to establish etc. Also, significant progress continues to be made, much of which is ignored (take a look at Michael Yon’s latest dispatch as well as the Tribal help in Anbar and, recently, Diyala). Yes, the Iraqis are key, and they continue to take more reponsibility (see the links).

    Finally, I (and the vast majority of people) do not buy into the mercenary rhetoric. I’m guessing you are referring to Black Water etc. They are not present in massive numbers, as you imply. They provide a legitimate service there as they do here. Going along with your definition (at least this is what it appears to be to me), the US, France, Germany, the UK are also all loaded with “mercenaries” who provide security services.

  4. The smart Iraqis know that US forces cannot establish security. Our soldiers are targets everywhere they go, and more Americans means the violence will intensify. I’m very worried about these small outposts all over the place– how long before one gets wiped out?

    In case you have missed the official reports, there is a civil war in Iraq. If it were just an insurgency it would probably be unwinnable, since the government lacks legitimacy. There isn’t even a theory for how the USA “wins” in an Iraqi civil war.

    Blackwater USA is just one company. The lowest official estimate of mercenaries in Iraq that I have seen is 25,000. I don’t think even the Pentagon knows for sure how many there are.

  5. There is little question, you don’t believe we can win etc. Fine, I strongly believe otherwise as do the majority of those on the ground. Denigrating the intelligence of the Iraqi people who support us establishing security is not helpful.

    The new strategy does place our soldiers in greater contact with the Iraqi populace. That is the whole point of the strategy. Again, take a look at the milblogs, Yon, etc. They have a positive perspective on the new tactics they are employing.

    The Iraqi government is establishing itself (yes, this too takes time, as I’ve stated before). Iraqi lawmakers are starting to work better as well, Sadr is out (for now), SCIRI is now SIIC, and Maliki agreed to a bigger Sunni security role etc etc. Like I’ve stated before, new democracies do not establish themselves overnight, we sure didn’t.

    Please also provide a source for you 25,000 figure as well as their definition. Providing security is a legitimate function. I would bet we have far more than 25,000 security “mercenaries” in this country.

    One thing is for certain, leaving Iraq now will result in a bloodbath, an end to a democracy in the works, and a happy place for terrorists.

  6. The estimate of 25,000 comes from the Pentagon, which has tried to downplay the role of contractors. As I said, I don’t think they really have a handle on the numbers even if they wanted to be honest.

    It’s crazy and out of control. Some Green Zone checkpoints are now manned by Peruvian mercs who don’t speak English or Arabic.

    It’s important to recognize that Iraqis want the occupation to end. The Bush administration is not doing Iraq any favors by extending the occupation to sometime in 2009 (when a Democratic president will order the troops home).

    Doubling the number of combat troops will just add to the bloodbath that’s happening now.

  7. As I’m aware, we have not, nor will we double the troops. Further, the surge is much more than just adding troops (plenty of articles available on new tactics etc). It is a disservice to those in the military to imply that they are just additional terrorist fodder – they are not.

    I am optimistic that this tough situation can (and will) be won (if our military and the Iraqis are allowed to). Additionally, I totally reject the ‘sky is falling’ pessimism you have to the aspects of the war (I think you would have had a tough time in WWII as well – Market Garden, the Bulge, Hedgerows, DDay, Metz, Hurtgen, Iwo Jima, Italy – and they weren’t insurgencies). Iraq is a violent spot without a doubt but terrorists continue to be decimated (while waging an effective PR war here) . If we leave, there will be an immense bloodbath dwarfing what is currently occurring. Again, I would encourage you to look at some of the reports on the milblogs.

    As I’ve said, we’ve made significant inroads with tribes in some of the most volatile areas and need to continue doing so. I see progress where you see doom. So be it. At least you are honest about running from Iraq – most Democrat reps who believe the same won’t explicitly say so (they try to do it under the guise of timetables etc).

    I don’t want to see Iraq turned over to its oppressors as I don’t want those same oppressors to have a new base to launch attacks on us, our allies, and moderate governments in the region.

    The mercenary line is invalid as they provide security (a legitimate function) – they are not soldiers. We have tons of security firm employees here in the US and no one calls them mercenaries.

    Also, I will assume the 25k number to be correct (ie that security contractor means just that – armed security and doesn’t include supply, training etc that also deals with security). That is still not a huge number for a country with high security needs. Unfortunately the article never states how the initial 25k were determined to be ‘security’ but does discuss the various other jobs many of the contractors do. For anyone reading the blog, check it out – the military has (in my opinion) made a good decision to have contractors deal with food, certain communications and other logistics, allowing for a leaner, more focused fighting force.

    Again, please source statements like the “Peruvian” stuff.

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