Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nice try Harry

From The Washington Post:

Senate Republicans yesterday rejected a bipartisan proposal to lengthen the home leaves of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, derailing a measure that war opponents viewed as one of the best chances to force President Bush to accelerate a redeployment of forces.

The proposal, sponsored by Sens. James Webb (D-Va.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), failed on a 56 to 44 vote, with 60 votes needed for passage -- a tally that was virtually identical to a previous vote in July. A last-minute campaign by the Defense Department and the White House to kill the measure won over Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), an influential voice on defense policy who had voted with Webb and Hagel in July.

Warner's defection deflated any momentum that had been building and effectively ensured the legislation's demise. Just six Republicans supported the proposal, one fewer than the previous count.

The vote offered the most vivid evidence yet that the Bush administration still controls Iraq war policy, despite months of congressional debate, the war's persistent unpopularity and a summer-long effort by activists to pressure Republicans. Unless other options with broad appeal emerge soon -- a prospect both parties now say is unlikely -- Bush's plan to keep most troops in Iraq through next summer will remain intact.

First of all any doubt that bill was not about "supporting the troops" but rather about ensuring that the troops are defeated and the war is lost was dispelled by Harry Reid:

"Our Republican colleagues are more interested in protecting our president than our troops," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said moments before the vote, when defeat appeared certain. "This is Bush's war. Don't make it also the Republican senators' war."

Reid, who has the IQ of a 3x5 index card (unlined) needs to learn to keep his mouth shut, or at least to say on the talking points. He was not supposed to make explicit that this was a vote for or against the war.

Having said all that I'll now say this. The long term deployments are putting strain on the service men and women and even more strain on their families. However it is nothing new for America to have men in uniform overseas for long periods of time. During the Second World War men joined, or were drafted, with the full knowledge that they were in for the duration (or until killed or wounded too badly to continue fighting) and they and their families knew that they would almost certainly not get any leave back in the States before the war ended.

Men and their wives kissed goodbye knowing that they would not see each other again until the last Axis power had surrendered, and given the war the war was going at first that could have seemed a very long time indeed.

America has forgotten what it is like to make that kind of commitment. We want our wars to be like Panama and Granada and the Gulf War - short successful operations carried out by highly trained and superbly equipped professional soldiers (and Marines and sailors and airmen) who go in get the job done and are back home inside a year with very minimal casualties.

Sorry, but the current war is not going to be like that. The critics who maintain that had we gone into Iraq with many more troops at the beginning that we would probably not be having the problems we are facing now are probably correct. We are probably going to wind up having to do to Iran and Syria what we did to Iraq. And we are going to have to do it while still occupying Iraq.

We clearly don't have enough forces to get the job done. We are going to have to reconsider the reduction in the size or our military which seemed such a good idea after the death of the Soviet Union.