Washington Post editors are decidedly unimpressed with the Democrats’ latest plan for Iraq. They put their bottom line up front: “It makes perfect sense, if the goal is winning votes in the United States.”
Says the Post:
In order to bring together the party’s leftist and centrist wings… there are plenty of enticements on the side: more money for wounded veterans, for children’s health, for post-Hurricane Katrina reconstruction.
Which sounds fine, I suppose. But the full list of non-military “enticements” crammed into the bill to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan wouldn’t fit in a brief editorial. Dollar-wise, the total (as of last weekend) cost of add-ons was 20 billion:
All told, farmers would get $4.3 billion in disaster aid, aimed chiefly at the drought-stricken Great Plains and California farmers hurt by a hard freeze earlier this year.
The drought disaster aid package has been scaled back, in part to make room for $74 million for a peanut storage program that pays storage and handling fees as farmers market their crop. And Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., is pressing for $25 million for spinach farmers who pulled produce from market shelves after last year’s E. coli outbreak.
Meanwhile, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., isn’t waiting on the upcoming farm bill to extend income subsidies aimed at small dairy farms. Obey’s 13-month extension would cost $283 million.
Some critics say the Democrats are simply being opportunistic — using a must-pass measure for funding U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to carry items that can’t advance as easily on their own.
Already, money in the bill not directly related to the war exceeds $20 billion.
Democrats insist they aren’t being bought off.
“Absolutely not,” said Rep. Jim Costa, a Democrat representing a farm district in California’s Central Valley. The California delegation is demanding help for citrus, avocado and other farmers facing $1.2 billion in losses from a devastating January freeze.
“I would support this one way or another,” said Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., a driving force behind the drought aid package.
There are a few lawmakers — such as Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. — whose support for war funding is contingent on add-ons. In DeFazio’s case, it’s $400 million to extend payments to rural counties hurt by cutbacks in federal logging.
The billions of dollars not requested by Bush include $1 billion to prevent or prepare for a possible avian flu epidemic and $400 million in additional heating subsidies for the poor.
All of which certainly makes an interesting “Iraq Plan”.
Now back to the Washington Post for what’s not in the plan:
The only constituency House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignored in her plan for amending President Bush’s supplemental war funding bill are the people of the country that U.S. troops are fighting to stabilize. The Democratic proposal doesn’t attempt to answer the question of why August 2008 is the right moment for the Iraqi government to lose all support from U.S. combat units. It doesn’t hint at what might happen if American forces were to leave at the end of this year — a development that would be triggered by the Iraqi government’s weakness. It doesn’t explain how continued U.S. interests in Iraq, which holds the world’s second-largest oil reserves and a substantial cadre of al-Qaeda militants, would be protected after 2008; in fact, it may prohibit U.S. forces from returning once they leave.
Will Iraq collapse into unrestrained civil conflict with “massive civilian casualties,” as the U.S. intelligence community predicts in the event of a rapid withdrawal? Will al-Qaeda establish a powerful new base for launching attacks on the United States and its allies? Will there be a regional war that sucks in Iraqi neighbors such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey? The House legislation is indifferent: Whether or not any of those events happened, U.S. forces would be gone.
What would keep the troops there?
The House bill lists benchmarks for Iraqi political progress and requires that President Bush certify by July 1 that progress is being made toward them. By October, Bush would have to certify that the benchmarks all had been reached. This is something of a trick, akin to the inflexible troop readiness requirements that Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) wanted to impose to “stop the surge.” Everyone knows that the long list of requirements — including constitutional changes, local elections and the completion of complex legislation — couldn’t be finished in six months. In that case a troop withdrawal would have to begin immediately. If there was no “progress” by July, it would have to begin then and be completed by the end of the year.
The irony, of course, is that the U.S. Congress’ demands for the almost-ten-month old Iraqi government to enact legislation will never be imposed on that government – because this “plan” in it’s current form will never be agreed to by the US Government in the first place. Such is often the case with Democracies, Republics, and Parliamentary-type systems.
“The surge” has barely begun – the third of five American Brigades deployed last weekend. But progress – military and civilian – is already being made. If you’re interested in a real status report on the new strategy for Iraq, read this:
(And by the way, if you’d like to comment on this post, you can do so here.)
Update: What happemed to the world I thought I knew?
The plan is an unruly mess: bad public policy, bad precedent and bad politics. If the legislation passes, Bush says he’ll veto it, as well he should.
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This war’s already been going on for 24 years; we were just a little bit slow to recognize it.
So, I, I have this feeling that on the one hand, the Democrats are making a great deal of hay out of saying we have to get out of Iraq, and indeed we do at some point or another. But the notion that the war will be over when we pull out of Iraq, and even when we pull out of Afghanistan, you heard what Gen. Abizaid had to say, it’s not going to be over. It’s going to be a different war, but the war continues.
May 1, 2013 10:03 AM by Michelle Malkin
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Inspector General: Yeah, Obama Treasury Dept. screwed Delphi non-union workers, but there’s nothing we can do about it
August 16, 2013 10:58 AM by Michelle Malkin