Iraq war anniversary: The quagmire enters its fifth year (FCN, 04-09-2007)
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – On May 10, Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives marked another timid, incremental milestone in their effort to end the war in Iraq by approving their second plan to put strings on war funding.
Voting 221-205, the House provided partial funding for the war until July, despite the threat of a certain veto by President George W. Bush and little support for the position in the Senate. The real victors may be the growing number of outright opponents to any war funding.
The war is increasingly unpopular–more than 70 percent of the general public believes the United States is “on the wrong track,” according to the AP-Ipsos Poll published May 11, while the President’s approval rating is at 28 percent, according to a recent Newsweek poll. Black opinion is even more strident.
The anti-war faction of the Democratic Party is actually now riving the House legislative agenda on the war. The Congressional debate has begun to shift from whether” to “when,” and how completely can U.S. troops be withdrawn from Iraq. War opponents managed to get 171 votes n defeat of a measure that would have been even more restrictive n the Bush administration policy, declaring an end to most U.S. military activities in Iraq within nine months.
“This is proof that the United tates Congress is getting closer o where the American people already are,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the proposal’s chief sponsor, after the vote. The “Out of Iraq Caucus” has about 30 members and was founded by former Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
Some CBC members, claimed a moral victory for supporting the measure to end the conflict in nine months, and then voted in favor of the less restrictive funding.
The Democratic strategy is calculated to hold Pres. Bush and Republicans who support him “accountable” for the war and its expected bad outcome for the U.S.
Already the costs have been enormous. More than 3,300 U.S. military personnel have been killed in the conflict, and more than 20,000 seriously injured. In four years and counting, the U.S. has spent more than $800 billion. With conflicting reports of Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of the war ranging from 60,000 to as many as 600,000, the U.S. has lost all of its prestige in world affairs. The entire U.S. military force has been “stretched to the breaking point” by the Iraq conflict, and the government is consumed with managing one aspect or another of the war, while everything else is ignored and been made too expensive.
“This legislation ends the blank check for the President’s war without end,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. “It provides a path to stability in the Middle East by changing our mission in Iraq, and enables us to focus on the threat of terrorism.”
Democratic Presidential candidate and House member Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) opposes the war outright. He is one of only 10 Democrats who voted against even the partial war-funding plan.
“Congress doesn’t have to pass anything to get out of this war. That’s the point. We get out of the war by not passing funding. That’s what I’m maintaining,” he said in a recent interview near the House floor.
“Don’t pass any money for the war. We have money in the pipeline to bring the troops home. We ought to begin reaching out to the international community–the Syrians; to Iran–to all those nations to put together an international peace keeping force that can replace our troops as we leave. This is the time to be thinking about leaving Iraq, not about continuing the war.”
Among the 10 Democrats who voted against funding the war, four of them–Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and Dianne Watson (D-Calif.)–are CBC members.
At the White House, 11 moderate House Republicans warned the President and his top aides in a contentious meeting May 8, that the war was threatening the GOP Party’s future. Several participants at the meeting disclosed the following day that it had been a blunt discussion in which lawmakers told the president that the war was unsustainable without public support and that it was having a corrosive effect on GOP political fortunes.
“We asked them what’s `Plan B,”‘ said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia. “We let them know that the status quo is not acceptable.” Mr. Kucinich has put forward his “Plan B” for holding the administration accountable: Impeachment.
“The key question here is accountability,” Mr. Kucinich said in an interview with The Final Call. “The Vice President must be held accountable for his violation of his Constitutional oath to protect and defend the United States, and to protect the laws of this country. He was responsible for beating the drums that led us into a disastrous war.
“He lied when he told the nation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. He made that statement many times on national television. He lied when he told the country that Iraq was connected to al-Qaeda, as well as 9/11. He has beaten the drums of war for an attacks against Iran,” Mr. Kucinich continued.
The strategy for targeting the Vice President for impeachment before going after the President is intended to determine how serious the Congress will be, said Mr. Kucinich.
“Because if you can’t act to challenge a Vice President who has so seriously violated the law and blatantly made a case for war that was based on falsehoods, then what hope could we have for a challenge to the President?” he asserted.
To CBC members John Conyers (D-Mich.), and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), who were present during the Saviours’ Day keynote address delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan at Detroit’s Ford Field Feb. 25, the path of impeachment was urged.
“These young soldiers of ours, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow and White who have joined the armed forces because they love America and they want to protect America and protect what they think is a good way of life,” Minister Farrakhan said.
“Unfortunately, the President’s brain was afflicted with the ideas of the Neo-Conservatives and on the basis of falsehood, our babies are dying. Families are destroyed and even ruined because the President and his advisors duped the Congress, and they got us into a war that has destroyed the economy of America and destroyed her reputation in the world.”
But President Bush is not alone, Minister Farrakhan pointed out.
“In this last election, the people saw that something needed to be done to change the direction. If they wrote Articles of Impeachment for President Bill Clinton because he was involved in inappropriate behavior in the Oval Office and then lied about it, if they can write Articles of Impeachment for those so-called High Crimes and Misdemeanors, what should they do about a man lying to the American people, deceiving the members of Congress, prosecuting an unjust war?
“Is that not only reason to impeach him but to set down his whole administration? Set down his whole administration. All of them are liars. All of them are murderers!
“So you Democrats, stop pussy-footing around with the Republicans. Do what the people voted that you should do: Make a change in this world,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Now, the least the Democrats should do, if you don’t want to impeach him, censure him! Say to the world, something went wrong in our leadership and we repent of our wrongdoing.”
Mr. Kucinich’s proposal is growing in support. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and CBC member William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), are listed as co-sponsors of the impeachment resolution.
Still, any legislation likely to be approved by Congress will likely be seriously flawed. Even the most stringent Democratic proposals continue to fund the war; set a distant timeline for withdrawal; and would allow as many as 80,000 troops to remain in various capacities after the withdrawal deadline. Meanwhile, the war seeks to force Iraq to accept a law that gives a major part of the country’s oil to foreign multinationals, and none of the proposals do anything to prevent military attack against Iran.