The statement from the Pentagon today on troop levels in Iraq is an admission that the President's troop surge was not a temporary measure. There will be more U.S. troops in Iraq this summer than there were at the end of 2006, when the American people demanded a New Direction in Iraq.
Both the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and the Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey have stated that repeated Iraq deployments are severely straining military readiness, making our nation less capable of dealing with other serious threats.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, Americans continue to demand a New Direction in Iraq and reject a continuation of the President’s plan for a 10-year, trillion dollar war in Iraq.
Were it not for a news agency using the term "anguished" to describe the central puppet government in Baghdad, the above might qualify for the biggest laugh of the day. The above is from Nancy Pelosi and it's the statement her office released yesterday. That office, of course, would be Speaker of the House -- not only the most powerful position in the US House of Represeentatives but also a position that puts her behind the vice-president in terms of line of succession for the presidency. So it's an office with huge prestige and huge power. And how did Pelosi use that in real time? She opposed the escalation, she did, symbolically she did. She was all for a non-binding, non-enforceable measure that offered nothing but symbolism. Congress -- and both houses were controlled by the Democrats when Bully Boy began his escalation last year -- had the power to stop it. Instead of using that power, they chose to act like symbolically.
Now Pelosi's surprised, shocked, to discover that there will be more troops in Iraq after the drawdown of the escalation than there were before the Democrats rode the public sentiment to end the illegal war (the reason they were swept into power in both houses in the November 2006 elections). I guess symoblism just doesn't mean a damn thing these days, eh, Nancy? Maybe she can hold a hearing on that -- on the decay of the power of symbolism? Goodness knows she's had no hearings on the lies that led a nation into an illegal war.
She's right that America demands a new direction -- it's why she was made Speaker of House. And symbolism wasn't why the Democrats were voted back into power.
Anne Flaherty (AP) notes:
Democrats facing rejection of a proposal to cut off money for the Iraq war are deliberating their next step in trying to rebuild anti-war momentum.
In recent months, violence in Iraq has declined and the Baghdad government has made small steps toward political reconciliation, including plans to hold provincial elections on Oct. 1. While Democratic voters remain largely against the war, the security improvement has helped to cool anxiety among Republicans and stave off legislation demanding that troops start coming home.
The Senate was expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal to order troop withdrawals to begin within 120 days. With that legislation's failure almost assured and lacking a veto-proof majority in Congress even if such a proposal passed, Democrats are talking about whether to shift their strategy. Instead of repeating losing votes on legislation tying money to troop withdrawals, many party members want to focus more on the policy issues surrounding Iraq, including the preparedness of U.S. troops and reining in private contractors.
They want to shift? Of course they want to shift. They've refused to use the procedural powers they have as a result of controlling both houses, they've refused to filibuster. They could have ended the illegal war last year when they were swept into power. They didn't and now we're going to have more for-show (symbolic!) actions that get no where while they pretend that if they only had the power, they would end the Iraq War. They have the power, they refuse to use it.
Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "Iraq Sounds Alarm on Clashes in North" (Washington Post):
Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani warned Turkey against any expansion.
"The operations are still limited operations, and the government has expressed its concern," Bolani said. "If the operation is widened, definitely Iraq will defend its sovereignty and territory."
He said the United States should do more to encourage the Turks to withdraw. U.S. troops "are the greatest force on the ground. They have certain obligations," Bolani said. "They could do more."
Contradicting statements by other Iraqi officials, he said Turkey did not consult with Iraq before launching the operation. "No Iraqi official would agree to an incursion across his borders," Bolani said.
When asked whether he was concerned that forces of the Kurdish regional government would ignore Iraq's central government and take unilateral action against the Turkish troops, Bolani replied that Iraq's constitution would not allow such a confrontation. "But if the targeting was expanded, definitely no one can keep silent," he added.
Asso Ahmed and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) offer:
Most Iraqi Kurds sympathize with the demands of Turkey's minority Kurds for their own homeland.
"They are Kurds like us," said Khalifa Qadir, another customer in the cafe, where a TV was showing news coverage of some Kurds in Turkey demonstrating for independence.
"This is a nation that won't vanish easily," said Qadir. "Their demands should be answered."
The latest fighting has raised concerns that the peshmerga, the fighting forces of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdistan regional government, could become entangled in the clashes if the Turks are seen as violating their vow to hit only the PKK.
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