July 11, 2007

Webb Amendment Fails, Top GOP Candidates Back Away From Surge

One of the contentious bills offered in the Senate to handcuff the President into a withdrawal from Iraq died on the floor this afternoon. Jim Webb (D-VA) offered what was essentially the 2006 John Murtha plan to use forced rotation requirements to bring down troop levels in Iraq, but his amendment failed to gain cloture:

Senators lacked the four votes needed Wednesday to bring to the floor a Democrat-sponsored amendment that would have set restrictions on U.S. troop rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to give troops more time at home.

The tally for the procedural motion was 56 to 41. Sixty votes were required to cut off debate on the amendment so a vote could be held.

Under the proposal by Jim Webb, D-Virginia, military personnel who return from deployments would have had to remain stateside for at least as long as they spent overseas, before they could be sent back.

The vote was being seen as a test of whether Democrats have gained enough momentum from disaffected Republican senators to begin forcing changes in the U.S. strategy in Iraq.

The amendment generated more discussion of the Constitutionality of Congressional actions to micromanage troop deployments. Webb argued that the Constitution gave Congress responsibility for maintaining the armed forces and therefore the authority to determine how to use the forces. Opponents argued that the law would interfere with a Commander-in-Chief's authority to apply resources, and not just in Iraq, either.

Seven Republicans broke ranks and supported Webb, but it wasn't enough in the end. Hot Air notes that all but one of them stand for election next year: Sens. Norm Coleman (Minn.), Susan Collins (Maine), Gordon Smith (Ore.), John Sununu (N.H.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Chuck Hagel (Nebraska) and John Warner (Va.). It didn't end with the Senate, either, as the Los Angeles Times reports that Republican presidential hopefuls have begun to distance themselves from the administration's efforts in Iraq:

As President Bush struggles to maintain support in Congress for his Iraq "surge" strategy, the three leading Republican presidential contenders have been quietly backing away from any commitment to continue the buildup.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson have made it clear that their original support for the escalation does not mean they are signed on to keeping the current 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, even as they have laid out hawkish positions on other aspects of foreign policy.

Their recent moves underscore the president's growing isolation on Iraq as the GOP begins searching for a post-Bush foreign policy. The shifts also distance the three top contenders from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the former front-runner who Tuesday reaffirmed his commitment to the troop escalation.

With doubts about Iraq policy growing even among conservative voters, "there's very little percentage in getting too far in front on the issue," said John J. Pitney Jr., a Claremont McKenna College government studies professor. "If you put all your chips on the surge, you could end up a big loser."

Or, one could also say, a big winner, if the surge strategy succeeds in allowing enough space for the Iraqis to take over their own security. Even the native insurgents seem to allow for extended American efforts and to assist them in ridding Iraq of al-Qaeda, as long as we promise to leave shortly thereafter. Michael Yon reports this in an extraordinary interview with a commander in the native-insurgency 1920 Brigades:

Unfortunately, we had to go to other meetings, so the time for taping was short. In closing, I asked Abu Ali if there was something he would like to say to Americans. The markets that had been closed under al Qaeda were bustling around us.

Ali thought for a moment as some local people tried to interrupt him with greetings, and he said, “I ask one thing,” and now I paraphrase Ali’s words: “After the Iraqi Army and Police take hold and the security forces are ready, we want a schedule for the leaving of the American forces.”

“I will tell the Americans this,” I said. Ali seemed satisfied as he went off with another American unit. We loaded back into the Stryker and headed to other interesting meetings on other interesting matters, all dealing with the grinding gears of winning or losing this war, and with catching and killing al Qaeda.

At the moment, we seem to have generated a measure of Iraqi unity against the real lunatics of AQI. If so, we risk making many factions in Iraq look like fools for trusting us to stick to the job to the end if we run out before that point, and the loss of credibility would probably be permanent in a region with long memories. The administration will have to start planning for that eventuality if the GOP starts wavering on a surge that really has just gotten started, and if Congress attempts to wrest command of the armed forces from the executive.


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Comments (42)

Posted by TyCaptains | July 11, 2007 1:53 PM

Just gotten started?

Posted by Red Wolverine | July 11, 2007 1:57 PM

Our problem isn't just the liberals out there. Our own libertarians, the ones who cost us congress, are backstabbing us on this as well. We cannot leave until Al Queda is erradicated.

And who are these libs kidding that HRC will pull troops. As soon as she is elected they will test her. And guess what. .she is going to respond. Mark my words: IN order to prove herself she will be 5the firts president since Truman to drop the a-bomb.

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 11, 2007 2:02 PM

So much for President Bush's "surge" working:

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann continued to stand by President Bush's military surge in Iraq, two days after returning from a congressional trip that put her in the line of fire while visiting Baghdad.
"It hasn't had a chance to be in place long enough to offer a critique of how it's working," said Bachmann, R-Minn.
Bachmann visited Ireland, Germany, Pakistan and Kuwait as well on a seven-day tour as part of a six-member congressional delegation that returned Saturday to the U.S.
The delegation's visit was harrowing at times. While visiting with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker at the U.S. Embassy inside Baghdad's walled, high-security Green Zone on Friday, mortar blasts landed inside the American-controlled territory.
"This recorded message played four times while we were there, asking us to move away from any windows, to get on the ground and move to the center of the building," Bachmann said. "(Crocker) stayed in his seat and kept talking with us the whole time. He never moved."

The surge started back in January, and it's nothing but a lame excuse to plead that it's only now just starting six months later.

Posted by crossdotcurve | July 11, 2007 2:05 PM

How long is the WingNuttery going to run with the "surge has just started" talking point?

I'll bet a few more months.

I wonder how many new gold-star mothers we'll have by then...

Posted by Continuum | July 11, 2007 2:20 PM

Why do the troops need any more than two weeks off a year . . . that's all the time off that I get.

As the Repubs all say, it's a volunteer army and they made the choice and want to be in Iraq.

Just listen to all the Repubs when they come back from Iraq (or their home districts). The troops are happy and want to stay there.

The Dems are just trying to make an issue out of "resting" the troops.

Thank God, our fine neocon Repubs in Congress were able to stop this sneaky Dem move to "rest" the troops.

If we didn't stop the Dems on this vote, then the next thing you know we'll be fighting al Qaeda in Idaho.

Posted by the fly-man | July 11, 2007 2:25 PM

This reminds me of Sen Robert's line about" How can you have any civil liberties if your dead." With recruitment in the dumper for both active and reserve forces "You can't have an Army if you don't have any replacements". What is the Pentagon supposed to do, bring back the draft, cross deploy Air force and Navy units? Errors will be made, lives will be lost and no one is to blame, right? This one will surely be tied around the decenter's necks. The Army has it's limits.What's next draft felons? Wouldn't the private contractors have loved this? I thought staying the course was the objective. How pathetic.

Posted by Adjoran | July 11, 2007 2:33 PM

The first "surge" troops didn't arrive in Iraq until late March, despite what starfleet-dude's hallucinations claim, and the full complement was not in placed - as planned and announced in advance - until late June. Congress agreed to reevaluate in September, which is why the funding was approved through then.

The rush to move up the surrender is due entirely to the successes on the ground. If the surge is allowed to succeed in its military goals (the political "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government remain problematic), it will be difficult to justify precipitous withdrawal. So the defeat-and-retreat caucus must act now . . .

As far as concerns the surge position of the leading GOP candidates, no one ever "signed on" to the maximum number of troops in-country indefinitely - including the President. The LAT is doing its usual best to distort the truth into something they can use against Bush. Nothing to see here, folks, move along . . .

Posted by MarkJ | July 11, 2007 2:39 PM

Dear starfleet_dude,

Given your comments you must obviously be in favor of:

a. Reinstatement of Selective Service and total mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.

b. Suspension of portions of the Constitution.

c. A full-blown regional war of extermination involving every state in the Middle East.

d. Eventual use of tactical nuclear weapons, by us and others, in the aforementioned part of the world.

e. Homicide bombers blowing themselves up on street corners near your comfortable digs.

Why do I think this? Because there's a better than even chance that all of the above will occur if or when we turn tail in Iraq.

Don't believe me? Yeah, well, I guess on 9-10-2001 you also couldn't believe that a bunch of religious nutters could be crazy enough to fly jets into the Twin Towers either.

Posted by tgharris | July 11, 2007 2:57 PM

"With recruitment in the dumper for both active and reserve forces...."

In the dumper?


"The Army fell short of its active-duty recruiting goal for June, but officials noted today that the Army is STILL AHEAD of its year-to-date goal and is EXPECTED TO MAKE its year-end goal...." (Emphasis mine.)

"The other three services MET OR EXCEEDED their active-duty recruiting goals for June." (Emphasis mine.)

" Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their June goals. "

"In addition, she noted that retention remains high, 101 percent of the goal for the active Army, 119 percent for the Army Reserve and 107 percent for the Army National Guard."

Are things perfect? No. Are they "in the dumper"? Hardly.

I look forward to Gen. Petraeus' September report....and the congressional scurrying that will follow if the overall trends in Iraq continue to improve.

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 11, 2007 3:09 PM

Adjoran, if half-a-surge is no better than none, a full surge is still only twice that. As someone who recalls the tremendous escalation of U.S. forces during the Vietnam War and the claim that light was at the end of the tunnel, it wasn't true then and similar claims about Iraq aren't true now either. FYI, the "surge" started in early January when approximately 132,000 troops were in Iraq, went to 137,000 by February, 142,000 by March, 150,000 by April, 155,000 by May, and 162,000 by June. (Source: GlobalSecurity.org)

President Bush initially said an additional 20,000 troops would be sent to Iraq on January 10th, 2007. So by mid-March that number had been reached, and it's fair enough to now judge how it's done. From what I can tell, the U.S. is simply playing a game of Whack-A-Mole with the Sunni insurgency while Shia militias continue working on the ethnic division of Baghdad. Adding even more troops won't change that dynamic, I'm afraid. When Katyusha rockets and time-on-target mortar attacks start hitting the Green Zone, it's clear that continuing the occupation of Iraq is folly.

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 11, 2007 3:28 PM

MarkJ, a U.S. withdrawl from Iraq is not likely to lead to a "war of extermination" in the Middle East or even a reprise of the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq. What is much more likely to happen is a low-level civil war similar to that which occured in Lebanon between 1975 to 1990. The attacks on 9/11 should not be seen as something that will come to every neighborhood either, but as a singular event that isn't going to be pulled off again, if for no other reason than what happened on that very day abord United flight 93. As far as tactical nuclear weapons are concerned, the only nations who would concieveably use them are the U.S. and Israel. Israel, certainly, would only use them in the event of a military crisis that threatened their very survival as a nation. The U.S. would only use them if it deliberately wished to lose its place in the world, which is unfortunately something I would not rule out from President Bush. The wisest thing for the U.S. to do now would be to stop with any further esclation of troop levels in Iraq, announce a timetable for withdrawal, and start implementing it.

Posted by Monkei | July 11, 2007 3:28 PM

Once again, for those of you who complained about the moderate GOP and Dem senators (gang of 14) who sided against the nuclear option which Bill Frist and the right wing was pushing ... I guess you are learning why it's never a good idea to change the rules when you are in power ... it's for reasons like these when you are NOT in power and not in the public majority of an issue. If the up or down voting measure had been passed, and the Gang of 14 senators not able to stop it from going through, this bill would have gone to a vote, likely passed and then vetoed, but nonetheless made it out of the senate. But without an up or down vote of course the Senators do not have to go on record and face the electorate back home.

Thank god for moderates once more.

Posted by The Yell | July 11, 2007 3:29 PM

"As someone who recalls the tremendous escalation of U.S. forces during the Vietnam War and the claim that light was at the end of the tunnel, it wasn't true then and similar claims about Iraq aren't true now either."

Do you really think it makes no difference than massive forces went to Vietnam to squat on a grid, facing down nothing, whereas we're sending troops to Iraq to form combat raiding groups?

"President Bush initially said an additional 20,000 troops would be sent to Iraq on January 10th, 2007. So by mid-March that number had been reached, and it's fair enough to now judge how it's done. "

"Fair" if you want to assess the success of the operation before the bulk of the sweep is conducted. Sort of like evaluating "Overlord" in May 1945 based on all the troops in "Europe" in that month...

"When Katyusha rockets and time-on-target mortar attacks start hitting the Green Zone, it's clear that continuing the occupation of Iraq is folly."

Sure, just like Hitler's V2 campaign demonstrated the futility of committing to an independent Britain.

Posted by Bill Faith | July 11, 2007 3:32 PM

space_cadet, as one who actually saw Viet Nam close up instead of just believing everything Uncle Walter said about it, I'd be remiss not to point out that we were winning when I left and the South Vietnamese kept right on winning right up to the day a peacenik congress cut off their supply chain. I linked.

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 11, 2007 3:52 PM

The Yell, the 550,000 troops the U.S. had in Vietnam from 1967 on were hardly just squatting on a grid, as I'm sure Bill Faith could tell you.

It's fair enough to judge President Bush's "surge" on the basis of the number of troops he initially said would be sent to Iraq, and see how well it's working so far. FWIW, the situation in Normandy by mid-July 1944 was starting to look like it could become more like a WWI-style fight, which is why Eisenhower decided to try for a breakout along the St. Lo-Poitiers road by ordering a massive bombardment of the German lines along a feature that would reduce the likelihood of bombs dropping on U.S. forces. Operation Cobra worked, and the exploitation of that breakthrough by Patton's forces soon followed. The odds of something similar happening in Iraq as a result of redoubling Bush's "surge" is vanishingly small, IMO.

Bill Faith, the Vietnam War if nothing else is proof that you can win every battle but still lose the war. The U.S. tactically won every battle, but Westmoreland's strategy of attrition was a failure, as the North Vietnamese were willing to endure tremendous losses to gain full independence for Vietnam. There was no desire on the part of the U.S. in 1975 to send troops back to support the South Vietnamese regime, and even hawks like Senator "Scoop" Jackson had had enough.

Posted by Monkei | July 11, 2007 4:00 PM

Bill Faith ... as a person who has dealt with Vietnam vets on a daily basis, both inpatient and outpatient, none of them had any idea if they were winning or losing that war and the vast majority claimed to not even know why they were even there ... but I guess if you look hard enough and ask enough vets you are bound to come across a few who thought they were in fact winning.

It's not the fault of the soldiers ... but once again the way in which the war was fought. just like today we ask our troops to do pretty much the impossible in a war that is supposed to be the war of our lifetimes while all of us sit over here and worry about the price and availability of oil. If this is the war of our lifetime, then let's put the effort into it, let's start up the draft, beef up the military and act like we have something to sacrifice. if not, let's just continue this half-assed approach to killing US soldiers and marines. I have never been a supporter of this war, but I feel that when you do go to war it should be treated like life or death, you don't do it half-assed. if it takes 400,000 soldiers and marines, then grab them out of Yale, Harvard, hell even FSU (if they can pass the minimum testing requirements) and put a rifle in their hands and send them over there ...

Posted by Carol Herman | July 11, 2007 4:04 PM

It's worth remembering, here, that George Allen wasn't much of a candidate. That's why the republicans lost their seat.

George Allen, like Dr. Frist, thought of themselves as presidential timber. And, Allen wa absolutely LACKLUSTER! If he had campaigned, instead of just smiled a lot, and shaken a lot of hands; he would have controlled the news and what was said about him. Instead of "macacca."

As to Webb, I think he's a GIFT. He's a complete looney. And, he's loose in the senate; trying to make a name for himself. SO far? The only word he's left out is OKINAWA. But he's not great big risk to the republican party.

Webb doesn't have to approach voters, again, till 2012. By then the "flow" will show. Because BOTH PARTIES, with idiots in congress. Has managed to turn off the mainstream voters. It seems it's still more popular to say "independent" than "republican." (Or, democrat.)

The waters in the senate are getting choppy, anyway.

And, yes, all this mischief against the president, without a thought to the costs of withdrawal, in terms of trust.

What will the next president do?

Well, if it's Guiliani. And, the kinds of spewing matches break out between State, the Pentagon, and the CIA, you could expect a speech from the Oval Office that will grab your attention.

From that? Power flows. When a president has the power of the pulpit the usual "fun and games" you're seeing now, abates.

We're not in Vietnam.

If anything? Given the exorbitant price tags for college; I think, ahead, we may yet go back to the draft. It sponges up kids, and helps some of them grow up.

Just because you haven't seen this, doesn't mean it's not possible. Not all that many kids are academic.

I just don't rule anything out.

Posted by the fly-man | July 11, 2007 4:08 PM

I stand corrected on my hyperbole about in the dumper. It didn't however, diminsh the fact that numbers are one thing and condition is another. Thanks for bringing those statistics to my attention.My apologies to all.

Posted by the fly-man | July 11, 2007 4:13 PM

FY 2007 U.S. Military Recruiting Statistics
From Rod Powers,
Your Guide to U.S. Military.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!
Jun 15 2007
The Department of Defense has announced its recruiting statistics by the active and reserve components for the month of May. For the first time in 24 consecutive months, one of the active duty branches did not achieve their recruiting goal for the month.

Active duty recruiting. Three of the four services exceeded their recruiting goals in May. The Army recruited 5,101 out of a goal of 5,500 (93 percent). The Navy recruited 2,709 out of a goal of 2,709 (100 percent). The Marine Corps recruited 2,225 out of a goal of 1,665 (134 percent). The Air Force recruited 2,451 out of a goal of 2,451 (100 percent).

Reserve forces recruiting. Accession data includes: Recruiting + Active to Reserve Transitions + IRR to Unit Transfers. Four of the six Reserve components met or exceeded their accession goals for May 2007.

Army National Guard: Recruited 5,612 out of a goal of 6,403 (88 percent)
Army Reserves: Recruited 3,929 out of a goal of 3,694 (106 percent)
Navy Reserves: Recruited 913 of of a goal of 866 (105 percent)
Marine Corps Reserves: Recruited 1043 out of a goal of 937 (111 percent)
Air National Guard: Recruited 736 out of a goal of 955 (77 percent)
Air Force Reserves: Recruited 675 out of a goal of 646 (104 percent)

I guess 88% for the Army National Gaurd is not quite in the dumper, huh?

Posted by onlineanalyst | July 11, 2007 4:21 PM

Adjoran is correct. Our full complement of troops was emplaced less than a month ago.

The surge is working, according to this description of specific (and growing) successes described here. Details of the Baghdad Security Plan and positive achievements in once-violent provinces paint a different picture than the one portrayed by the media. The destruction of safe havens for terrorists and positive directions in political solutions increase daily. This editorial by an observer who was in Iraq in May should be reprinted in major news outlets and trumpeted by television networks. It should be read aloud to members of Congress by a senator or representative with fortitude.

This is not the time for armchair "generals" in Congress to go wobbly or try to micromanage the current strategy in Iraq. Too many of them seem to be behind the news curve regarding the facts on the ground. It's time for them to get a backbone and get their noses out of the pages of the WaPo and NYT. The most honorable course is for Congress to wait for Gen. Petraeus's September report and actually attend to his words.

Posted by crossdotcurve | July 11, 2007 4:22 PM

Casey can't guarantee that the new 15-month deployments won't be extended...again.


Posted by LRS | July 11, 2007 4:29 PM

Bill Faith is right -- we were winning in Vietnam inspite of the hamstringing and backstabbing by the democrats in congress,liberals screaming about atrocities (with a incredulous lack of moral relativism),media misrepresentation and outright lying, and the appearance of coordination with the democrats in Congress, the anti-war folks, and NVN to undermine the war effort in South Vietname. We pulled the plug on the SVN inspite of evidence that the NVN were receiving financial and military aide from the Russians and Communist China.

We have the same situation in Iraq, we are winning inspite of ... take everything above and replace NVN with AQI and SVN with Iraqi, and add to Russian and Communist China, Iran and Syria and it is Deja Vous.

Shame on you folks who try to undermine the GWOT effort -- there were snakes in the grass like you in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, etc. including World War II -- my father fought in WWII and remembers the same reasons for handing Victory to the Naziis and Japanese by the press, the "intelligentsia", the socialists, and other losers. They are the same "arguments" and empty reasoning as those spouted by the "starfleet_dude".

The only difference is that we had MEN and LEADERS who were determined to win and did what it took to win. If a war plan was not working, our leaders went back to the drawing table to modify it until we won. War is too dynamic and complex to focus on one factor - i.e. U.S. body counts -- as representative of the course of the war.

Americans -- and I mean Americans; not Republicans, not Democrats, not libertarians, not heterosexuals, not homosexuals, not Christians, not Muslims, not Jews, not Hispanics, not African-Americans, not European-Americans, and so on, but - AMERICANS want to WIN THE WAR.

Posted by bayam | July 11, 2007 4:33 PM


As a moderate who deeply opposed starting this war but agrees that US forces must stay to ensure a stable Iraq and the defeat of AQ, I've just about lost all failth in the current Bush policy.

For me the turning point was Richard Lugar- one of the most knowledgable and intelligent foreign policy experts in government. His Senate seate is guaranteed- Lugar is a living icon in Indiana, which is a very Republican state anyway. And Lugar isn't up for re-election until 2012.

When Lugar turned against Bush's war policy, it signalled the beginning of the end for Bush. Lugar does not play politics over this kind of issue; like Hagel, his constituency would prefer to see him aligned behind Bush. His position calling for change will turn the tide for a majority of Republicans in the Senate. Lugar's Senate colleagues will trust him more than any single pro-Bush supporter in the Senate.

Posted by syn | July 11, 2007 4:59 PM

I'm going to trust the word of this fine man:

"Things out on the road have been relatively quiet for a long time now. There are no more bad guys who want to try their luck with us. We have sent away or killed so many now I think we are well-known to the enemy in our area of operations. Plus, the Iraqi police and the military now have a presence and are making huge pushes to gain control of the area. It used to be we were the only ones out there, now the Iraqis are taking control for themselves finally. What is happening right now may be a turning point for the war, at least, that is kind of what it is feeling like here. I hope the people back home have what it takes to see it through though, I guess we'll see. I think this summer will be different this time around for us."

-letter from an American soldier(whose unit I had been sending support so I don't know him personally) in Anbar Province at the end of his 15 month tour received June 2007.

The same approach used in Anbar is now being used in the Diyala Province, which I believe is Iran's based of operations in Iraq.

Oh how I love our US Armed Forces.

Posted by The Yell | July 11, 2007 5:12 PM

"For me the turning point was Richard Lugar- one of the most knowledgable and intelligent foreign policy experts in government."

Turning point how? You opposed this war since 2003.

I have seen you around this blog for years, and have never seen you reference the wit and wisdom of this Hoosier Kissinger before he turned on Bush. Republicans who oppose Bush get the velvet treatment usually reserved for obituaries.

"It's fair enough to judge President Bush's "surge" on the basis of the number of troops he initially said would be sent to Iraq, and see how well it's working so far."

No, because he did not "initially"--six months ago-- call for this particular plan we are carrying out. As you well know.
You want to bring up "Operation Cobra"--there was no question that finishing the Nazis was somehow conditional on ending the war by the 1944 elections, or on this or that tactical movement delivering a knockout.

"The U.S. tactically won every battle, but Westmoreland's strategy of attrition was a failure, as the North Vietnamese were willing to endure tremendous losses to gain full independence for Vietnam. "

Then our failure was refusing to inflict such losses upon them as they would not willingly endure.

Posted by onlineanalyst | July 11, 2007 5:23 PM

I'm with you, syn. Our troops are the best worldwide.

Too bad about Webb's amendment. I guess he wasn't "packing enough heat" today.

And speaking of Murtha (2006), "Best of the Web" asks whether Murtha will apologize:

""An investigating officer has recommended dismissing murder charges against a Marine accused in the slayings of three Iraqi men in a squad action that killed 24 civilians in Haditha, according to a report released Tuesday," the Associated Press reports:

"The government's theory that Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt had executed the three men was "incredible" and relied on contradictory statements by Iraqis, Lt. Col. Paul Ware said in the report, released by Sharratt's defense attorneys.

"'To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq," Ware wrote.

"This was the incident in which Rep. John Murtha accused the Marines of killing Iraqis "in cold blood"--a charge, as we noted in May 2006, that was self-contradictory. In November ScrippsNews reported that Cpl. Sharratt's parents were "enraged" with Murtha, who is their congressman. Perhaps it's time for him to apologize."

bayam: What is most disappointing about Senator Lugar's reversal is that he voiced his opinion before all of the facts are in. September is several months away. One has to wonder how knowledgable about foreign policy he is if he doesn't see that non-support of the surge will create a vacuum that Al Qaeda is willing to fill.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | July 11, 2007 5:27 PM

I thought of this this morning and it is still rattling in my head. It is a nutty idea, but do you think that Senator Webb could be flipped if the focus in Iraq shifted from white gloves, UN style nation building, and Nanny 911 treatment of the Maliki government to the kind of no holds barred ass kicking, take no prisoners "elimination" of all AQ and their sympathizers in Iraq.

In the wake of 9/11/01, then former Secretary of the Navy, Webb spoke to the U.S. Naval Institute of the need to take the fight to the Taliban, but that an occupation of Iraq was not advisable given the current size of our military. In reading these words, I firmly believe that Webb could be reached based on his position that the use of all leathal force is justified towards the elimination of the international terrorist movement (AQ would qualify) is in our national interest. He would also be the perfect spokesmen for the battle to "eliminate" AQ in Iraq and to counter-balance the Iranian influence in the region with a sustainable military presence to back the Iraqis.


"we need to start with a basic premise: if fundamentalist Muslim terrorists want to die for a cause, you are not going to stop them. The most important thing you can do, if you are their adversary, is to kill them on your terms, not on theirs. That makes some Americans?particularly American media? squeamish. But that is the reality of the situation we are in.

The Taliban is probably the most clear-cut example of what might be called a prototype for looking forward into how we should be addressing the situation. We have given those people clear signals. They obviously are not complying, for a number of reasons. As a result, we are taking necessary action to ensure elimination of this cancer that has grown inside their country. We have the right to do that, under the United Nations Charter. This is clearly self- defense."

Webb's words from October of 01 were as prophetic then as they are instructive today.

"My final admonition?and I got into some trouble with this during the Gulf War?is that we are not in a position as a nation, and particularly as a military, to occupy large pieces of territory. The Wall Street Journal editorialized repeatedly during the Gulf War that we should set up a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad. There has been a lot of discussion about why we did not take Baghdad during the Gulf War. I think as much as anyone in this country, I would like to see Saddam Hussein go. To my knowledge, I was the only guy in the Reagan administration who opposed the tilt toward Iraq, in writing, in 1987. I do not think we had nor have the resources to occupy Iraq.

"If you think we have problems in Israel, try putting a Judeo- Christian military system in the cradle of Muslim culture. And when you think about a military of 1.4 million people, with other responsibilities around the world, that is not a winnable situation. I tried to say ten years ago, over and over again, that we must be involved only to the extent that it directly involves our national interests. These arguments have been going on for 3,000 years. And when they do relate to our national interests, as this international terrorist movement does, we must act with a great deal of specific lethality. We must go after the people who are doing this and eliminate them."

With the right set of incentives, the red-stater Webb can be flipped more easily than Warner.

Posted by syn | July 11, 2007 5:46 PM

So since we cut and ran in the First Gulf War leaving the Middle East alone and genocidal Saddam still in power because a Judeo-Christian military system in the cradle of Muslim culture (the left has been saying that Saddam was a secularist?) would be scaaarry, why then were we attacked twice on our soil, several times in areas around the world beginning two years after we left the Middle East and Saddam in power at the end of the First Gulf War in 1991?

Can you give me a reasonable answer Angry Dumbo as to why 3000 Americans died on 9/11/2001 after we have left the Middle East a decade prior. Those that died are they not of our national interests?

I was here both times we were attacked yet I feel so betrayed to see so many Americans back out of their promise, made after the second attack, to Never Forget.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | July 11, 2007 5:51 PM

Continuum said:

"Why do the troops need any more than two weeks off a year . . . that's all the time off that I get."

Why don't you move to France, then? It's paradise over there. They get something like 6 1/2 weeks off each year.

Here's the poop on "time off" for the military, in a nutshell

Leave accrues at the rate of 2 1/2 calendar days per month. Congress recognizes that military requirements may prevent members from using their planned leave. Thus, the law permits members to accrue a maximum of 60 days (the maximum that may be carried over into the next the fiscal year [FY]). The expression “use or lose” means that leave in excess of 60 days is lost if not used by the end of the FY (30 September).

Also, the military can pay members for unused leave at certain points in their career, such as reenlistment and voluntary retirements, separation, or discharge. By law, members may receive accrued leave payment up to a maximum of 60 days during their military career. When a member "sells" leave, he/she receives one day of base pay for each day of leave "sold." However, the legislative history of the law clearly expresses congressional concern that members use leave to relax from the pressures of duties and not as a method of compensation.

more here:


Another factor determing time off is whether or not the service member is stationed in a "high risk area". Such a high risk area would of course include a theatre of war, but also includes such less known places like being with the Coast Guard and rescuing people from a sinking crab boat off the coast of Alaska!

Posted by Lightwave | July 11, 2007 5:59 PM

While the Webb Amendment was nothing more than political theater, we should all be paying attention to Joe Lieberman's amendment to this bill, which:

"states that “the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces by a foreign government or its agents is an intolerable act of hostility against the United States,” and demands the government of Iran “take immediate action” to end all forms of support it is providing to Iraqi militias and insurgents. The amendment also mandates a regular report on Iran’s anti-coalition activity in Iraq.

This amendment passed, 97-0. It is 100% unequivocal proof that this US Senate believes Iran has been killing US soldiers. This should be considered an act of war.

When anyone in the Senate starts backpedaling on Iraq, this amendment needs to be brought up. When anyone in the Senate starts mentioning benchmarks, timetables, withdrawals or surrender, this amendment needs to be brought up. When any Democrat or White Flag Republican puts politics ahead of the security of the United States of America, this amendment needs to be brought up.

More importantly, the next step needs to be taken with Iran.

Posted by docjim505 | July 11, 2007 6:16 PM

I'm trying to imagine, as always, our resident Benedict Arnolds making their same gleeful pronouncements of American defeat in, say, 1944 or 1864. If left to the likes of bayam, monkei, starfleet_dude, etc, there never would have been an Operation Overlord. There never would have been a March to the Sea. After the disasters at Kasserine and Savo Island, the bloodbaths at Sharpsburg, Chancellosville and Gettysburg, they'd have pushed hard to "bring the troops home" and impeach the president. They are the ideological descendents of the Copperheads... and Judas.

How did we ever get such a rabid group of traitors in our country?

Posted by Angry Dumbo | July 11, 2007 6:44 PM

Syn, I'm sorry if you misinterpreted my post. I think we agree. My point is that I believe that Webb is closer to supporting the President's surge than our major media outlets would have you believe. Specifically I believe Webb could be brought to support a more agressive action against AQ. Webb said in 01 that he supported the President and Sec. Def. Rumsfeld and their decision to use all lethal force to "eliminate" the Taliban - so it follows that he would support the use of such force to "eliminate" AQ from Iraq and the region as being in our "national interest". To gain Webbs approval, the President needs to make clear that we are not nation building in Iraq, but by fighting the international terrorist movement (of which AQ clearly qualifies) where we find them, we are acting in our national interests by seeking a sustainable victory in Iraq.

Posted by TyCaptains | July 11, 2007 8:15 PM


We didn't leave the ME after the first Gulf War. We had bases in Saudi Arabia, which was one of the primary motivators for OBL, or so he says.

Posted by starfleed_dude | July 11, 2007 9:35 PM

docjim505, if all you can do is slag me and others as traitors, you've lost the argument by being too lazy to bother with coming up with anything better than name-calling.

Angry Dumbo, Saddam Hussein was never a friend of Al Qaida in the first place. (He wasn't one to tolerate that sort of thing on his turf, after all.) "Nation building" (or at least, "democracy building") was in fact the very point of President Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq in the first place, and it seems awfully ingenuous of you now to try and downplay that.

Posted by Joe | July 11, 2007 10:21 PM

When the Iraqi Security Forces are trained and ready to go, who are they LOYAL to? The Clerics? The Militia Leaders? Iran? Kurdistan? Ex-Baathists? The sectarian splits are so wide in Iraq there will never be a unified Iraqi Army and Police Force that is loyal to Maliki alone. Does pointing this out make me a traitor Docjim? Or am I a traitor if I don't toe the Bush line? So now that Iraq is a fiasco we should invade Iran? The neo-cons get nuttier as there Middle East pipedream goes up in smoke. And as far as those recruiting numbers go, the goals were all lowered to make it SEEM they were being met. More smoke being blown up our ass by Bush. Only the nutty fringe elements still support the fiasco in Iraq, their pathetic.

Posted by docjim505 | July 12, 2007 4:10 AM

starfleet and joe,

Like good Copperheads, you find ANY excuse to claim "We've lost and It's All Bush's Fault (TM)!" What "argument" is there? You and your fellow quislings want to surrender. I don't. Call me back when you've got some constructive criticism about how to win the war beyond "Bush is an idiot", "Bush is a liar", "We can't win", and "We gotta get out NOW".

Does anybody else see moving goal posts in Joe's post:

When the Iraqi Security Forces are trained and ready to go, who are they LOYAL to? The Clerics? The Militia Leaders? Iran? Kurdistan? Ex-Baathists? The sectarian splits are so wide in Iraq there will never be a unified Iraqi Army and Police Force that is loyal to Maliki alone.

See, not so long ago, the libs told us that the Iraqi Security Forces WEREN'T being trained and that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to make an efficient army and police out of Iraq's diverse and fractured population. There was much whining that the Iraqis weren't doing anything to defend themselves against the terrorists, that we were carrying all the burden, etc, etc. I remember Teddy Kennedy complaining a couple of years ago that not enough Iraqis were dying to suit him; he saw it as evidence that they weren't fighting their own war.

Now that it's becoming obvious even to liberals that the Iraqis ARE making progress, the goalpost moves to, "Yeah, well, WHO will those soldiers be loyal to?" Part of this reflects the libs' love for strongmen; they admire thugs like Castro, Mao, Che, Chavez and Stalin and naturally think that Iraqis will only follow a similar strong man. It's incomprehensible to them that Iraqi soldiers MIGHT be developing a loyalty to their COUNTRY and not to a given leader or even political party.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we have a lot of hard work to do in Iraq. Ultimately, only the Iraqis can determine whether we (the US, coalition, and the Iraqis themselves) will win. They have to decide that they are going to be a modern, secular state. They have to decide that they aren't going to be a home for al Qaeda or any other terrorist group. Our job is to support them and help protect them until they are able to take care of the job themselves. They are making progress; this is not the time to knife them in the back in the interests of humiliating George Bush.

Posted by Keemo | July 12, 2007 7:09 AM

Well stated docjim... The label "traitor" goes far beyond the demands for an American defeat in the war on terror; goes far beyond Murtha's outright lies; far beyond Kerry's outright lies; far beyond the obvious loathing & hatred these people have for our men/woman in uniform; far beyond the NYT & WAPO destruction of top secret (successful) operations... The mindset "America is to blame for all things bad in this world" is the tip of the iceberg with these people.

Iraqis are stepping forward in large numbers & helping our soldiers weed out and kill the bad guys in large numbers. Iraqis are sick and tired of the slaughter of innocent civilians at the hands of the terrorists bombings.

Americans are coming to the crossroads; our elected officials are not getting the work of the people done, while selling out the people & our way of life in favor of "money, power, & sex"... Both sides of the isle are littered with this behavior. America has drifted towards Socialism behind a 98% Liberal-Socialist media & propaganda machine. Our family values have been under attack for decades; our culture has been divided by a flood of illegal aliens coming across unprotected borders; our infrastructure systems have been bankrupted while our politicians cater to the power; our media consistently supports the enemies of America, those who want to see America crumble...

The American people will determine the destiny of the American dream. Our politicians can't be trusted; the media is "the enemy within"...

Posted by sasqwa | July 12, 2007 7:54 AM

I'm re-thinking my future contributions to the NRP. I'm of the opinion that my money can be better spent focused on those Republicans that actually reflect my concerns and goals. Does anyone have reliable information on how much money the Party supplies to the "Stalwart Seven" ?

Posted by FredTownWard | July 12, 2007 7:58 AM

While I am disappointed with Republican cowardice in the Senate, these "reports" about GOP presidential candidates "backing away" from supporting the surge appear to be pure wishful thinking on the MSM's part. No presidential candidate in his right mind would like to be tied to a particular strategy like the troop surge nor should any voter in his right mind wish to so tie him.

It is enough for me that they commit to WINNING the war...

by whatever means are necessary.

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 12, 2007 9:55 AM

docjim505, there is no way that the U.S. can "win" in terms of the occupation of Iraq, any more than Israel has "won" in the West Bank after forty years of occupation there. President Bush did do a stupid thing by invading Iraq (ignoring Colin Powell's pointed advice to the contrary), and lied about Iraq possessing WMDs in the process to get his war on. The longer the U.S. stays the worse it will be for all concerned, but unlike Israel the U.S. has no vital interests at stake in the region. The oil there will still be sold to anyone who wants to buy it, there will still be a balance of power between Iran and the various Arabian nations to work out as well as a religious reformation in Iraq and the larger Muslim world to resolve. But they have to do it without the U.S. meddling in it.

Osama bin Laden deliberately ordered the attack on 9/11 to goad the U.S. into doing something as stupid as invading Iraq, as part of his delusional dream to destroy the old order in the Middle East. On his own, Osama bin Laden has no hope of establishing a new caliphate and the U.S. should just leave Iraq and let Iraqis work their problems out themselves. Staying isn't winning, except to those who want to believe the U.S. should never, ever lose face. That's just so much vainglory on President Bush's part, but it's time for him and the U.S. to face the consequences of his folly instead of pretending the mess he made in Iraq doesn't exist.

Posted by docjim505 | July 12, 2007 7:59 PM

Like I said, starfleet: call me back when you've got some constructive ideas about how to win.

Posted by starfleet_dude | July 13, 2007 10:43 AM

docjim505, as you're the one who keeps saying we have to win it's up to you to provide ideas about how to do it. After five years of a failed occupation where President Bush has told the world multiple times that things are getting better all the time in Iraq, I don't expect much from you or anyone else.

All you're really doing here now is making excuses, along with everyone else here who is unwilling to face the fact that the terrible decision to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003 has led to the predictable consequences that Colin Powell warned President Bush about.