- Sands begin to shift in Congress against the Iraq war (FCN, 05-29-2007)
- Iraq war anniversary: The quagmire enters its fifth year (FCN, 04-09-2007)
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Support from Republican loyalists for President George W. Bush’s war of aggression and occupation of Iraq is close to hemorrhaging, long before the anticipated September showdown in Congress over war funding. In less than two weeks, three GOP senators, a House member and Mr. Bush’s former Secretary of State have withdrawn their support.
New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici is the latest Republican to abandon the President’s sinking warship. His defection follows similar calls recently for a new Iraq policy by Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee; by Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, another member of that committee; and by Rep. John Doolittle, a conservative California Republican congress member.
In addition, Sen. John Warner of Virginia, a respected Republican voice on military issues, has also been pressing the administration to shift course, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell now urges the U.S. to withdraw troops from Iraq and to open talks with Syria and Iran for more stability in the region.
“I am unwilling to continue our current strategy,” Sen. Domenici told an Albuquerque news conference July 5. He said he believes the Iraqi government is “failing” and called for a new U.S. military policy in Iraq. “I have carefully studied the Iraq situation and believe we cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress to move its country forward.”
Sen. Domenici said he wants to see an end to combat operations and most U.S. troops withdrawn by next spring. He said it was the father of a soldier killed in Iraq who convinced him it’s time to pull out. “I’m asking you if you couldn’t do a little extra, a little more, to see if you can’t get the troops back,” the six-term senator who faces re-election next year said the man told him. “Mine is dead, but I would surely hope that you would listen to me and try to get the rest of them back sooner.”
“That’s what I’m beginning to hear,” Sen. Domenici said. “I heard nothing like that a couple of years ago. I think that’s the result of this war dragging on almost indefinitely.” Mr. Powell criticized the so-called 30,000 troop “surge” announced by the President at the beginning of 2007. Even with 100,000 additional troops, it would be tough for the United States to continue its present mission in Iraq, Mr. Powell said, according to a BBC report.
More and more Republicans now see the Iraq war as “lost,” according to many political analysts. “I must say that the recent comments by [Senators] Lugar, Voinovich, and Domenici and to some extent Warner, do show that the Republican unity is falling apart a little bit,” Steve Cobble, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies told The Final Call. “But they’re also really good at this trick of stalling, of talking big and not acting on it.
“You probably remember that going back to the torture stuff, [Senators] McCain and Lindsay Graham were talking big and then the White House essentially bluffed them down and made them pull back on most of what they wanted. Basically, when push comes to shove, most of the time the Republicans fall in line.”
The most recent developments bear witness to the warnings issued to Pres. Bush by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, long before the war began. “We are headed into a terrible time. I am writing this letter as a final witness of my deep concern for you and for the nation; believing, however that you are bent on doing what is in your heart with respect to Iraq and Saddam Hussein,” Min. Farrakhan wrote in a letter dated Oct. 30, 2002. It would be “easy” for the U.S. to go into Iraq, the Muslim leader warned, but extremely difficult to leave.
“Mr. President, if you do this, you will bring down upon America an increase in the Divine Judgement of rain, hail, snow, wind, earthquakes, pestilence and famine that is already witnessed in the country. As you go about destroying other nations and cities, you will bring this kind of Divine Wrath on the American people and on American cities,” Min. Farrakhan warned.
The new position many Republicans are now articulating, was crafted in a proposal by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), with several Republican as well as Democratic co-sponsors. It embraces the recommendations last autumn from the Iraq Study Group, recommendations which were rejected by Mr. Bush. “Frankly, I’m not too confident that particular document won’t be full of loopholes,” said Mr. Cobble.
“What it would probably mean is a face saving,” Mr. Cobble continued, “start bringing some troops home, which would be a departure from what the President and Vice President want, but could easily be manipulated, so as to keep troops there for quite a while, and make the public think the war is ending while it really doesn’t.
“Those of us who are old enough know we went through this with [Pres. Richard] Nixon on Vietnam before, where he pulled out the troops, piece-by-piece over a four or five year period but kept the war going.”
In addition, he pointed out, most of the bills don’t even take into consideration, the huge number of mercenaries and so-called “civilian” contractors being paid by the Pentagon and the State Department. Recent news reports indicate there may in fact be more mercenaries and contract workers there than soldiers.
“There are some loopholes, but on the other hand, the momentum is clearly on our side and the grassroots momentum is clearly building,” said Mr. Cobble.
Before now, Rep. Doolittle was a longtime supporter of the war. Mr. Doolittle called the situation in Iraq a “quagmire” July 5 at City Hall in Rocklin, NM, according to a report in The Sacramento Bee. “We’ve got to get off the front lines as soon as possible,” Mr. Doolittle said “And in my mind that means something like the end of the year. We just can’t continue to tolerate these kinds of losses. I don’t want to keep having our people dying on the front lines. I am increasingly convinced that we never are going to succeed in actually ending people dying [in Iraq]. I think it’s going to be a constant conflict … and if that is going to happen … it needs to be the Iraqis dying and not the Americans.”