20 January 2007
THE DEMOCRATS AND THE WAR
The hottest topic for discussion while we were busy elsewhere this week was the president's push for more troops.
All the Democratic presidential candidates weighed in this week as being against the so-called "surge" (or escalation of hositilities if you aren't using Bush- or MSM-speak). But each candidate took a stance that was a bit different from that of their rivals.
The Senate passed a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden of Delaware and GOP candidate Chuck Hagel of Nebraska were among the chief sponsors of the bi-partisan resolution. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback - also a Repulican candiate for president - voted in favor of the rebuke of the "surge" plan.
But some of the other Democrats in the race for the White House took things a step further.
Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton got most of the media attention for their individual calls to limit troop levels in Iraq, in an attempt to thwart Bush's plan.
Clinton's plan would limit troops in Iraq to their levels as of Jan. 1 and establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet or face cuts in U.S. funding for Iraqi security forces. The plan would also require the U.S. government to show specific measures of progress or face a new vote by Congress to re-authorize the war. Clinton also said if more troops were to be sent somewhere, they ought to be sent to Afghanistan, where the Taliban is making a major comeback.
Obama put forth a similar plan a day later, but his called for a redeployment of some U.S troops within two to four months.
Both Obama and Clinton also called for a phased withdrawal of troops.
John Edwards challenged his former Senate collegues to not only call for troop limits but to cut off funding for the proposed troop increase. In addition, Edwards called for an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 to 50,000 troops, to force Iraq and others in the region to come up with a political solution to the fighting there.
Though Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd also has proposed a plan that could require re-authorization of the war, his is not based on anyone meeting any benchmarks. Dodd argued the 2002 authorization was obsolete because the reasons given for the war then are obsolete.
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, the first to formally announce his intentions to seek the Democratic nomination, yesterday dismissed the calls for a cap on the troops and instead called for a refusal to fund new troop deployments and removing U.S. troops from Baghdad and southern Iraq.
Cleveland-area Congressman Dennis Kucinich has, for some time, called for Congress to cut off funds for the Iraq war alltogether. Earlier this week, Kucinich - very publicly - received a petition from 1,000 U.S. active-duty troops calling for an end to the war.