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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Domenici Joins the Cut And Run Caucus

Fresh on the heels of his sane immigration vote, Senator Pete Domenici ghas decided to back away from the Bush Administration's support for combat operations in the Iraq theater. He is co-sponsoring legislation that calls for withdrawal of combat troops by March of 2008:

Sen. Pete Domenici (N.M.), a 36-year Republican veteran of the Senate, abandoned President Bush's Iraq war policy today by publicly endorsing legislation designed to withdraw nearly all U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008.

Domenici, a member of the defense appropriations subcommittee, is the fourth senior Senate Republican to sharply criticize Bush's war strategy in the past two weeks. He announced during a press conference in Albuquerque that he was co-sponsoring legislation that would embrace the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, which called for a major redeployment that would leave only a limited number of troops in Iraq to focus on counter-terror operations and securing the border.

"I have carefully studied the Iraq situation, and believe we cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress to move its country forward," Domenici said. "I do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or a reduction in funding for our troops. But I do support a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path to coming home."

Domenici's defection is the latest from a growing number of senior Senate Republicans who have decided to oppose the White House's preferred plan of waiting for a mid-September progress report on the effectiveness of Bush's "surge" plan of boosting the U.S. deployment in Iraq this year by tens of thousands of troops.

Rather than wait for that report, to be drafted by Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of forces in Iraq, Domenici and other senior Republicans have called for a change in course this summer in advance of the coming legislative fight this month in the Senate on the authorization bill for the Pentagon.

"I am unwilling to continue our current strategy," Domenici said flatly, blaming the Iraqi government for its inability to get its internal administration in order.
Early last week Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the leading Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, delivered a rebuke to the White House with a more than 5,000-word address on the Senate floor declaring that the surge was not working and that the "current path" on Iraq was not acceptable. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), the former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, applauded Lugar's speech and said he would offer his own amendments calling for a change in policy during the defense authorization debate next week.

And Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) also endorsed a call for withdrawing troops, sending a letter to Bush personally making that request.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to force Republicans into abandoning Bush on a series of votes on Iraq. As of now, he appears to be short of the two-thirds votes needed to over-ride a presidential veto of legislation setting a withdrawal date, but the statements from Domenici and the other senators give momentum to Democrats upon which they hope to build.

It would be grossly irresponsible at this point to begin this legislation. The surge report due in September from General Petreus should be examined before any course of action is taken. And I would like to serve a reminder to the Senate that they do not get to call these shots. The president is the commander-in-chiefIt is his call. Congress may do only one thing with the war at this point, and that is to defund it; a step that even Senator Domenici is not willing to take, as he states above.

We have acknowledged in recent weeks that support for the ongoing combat in Iraq is dwindling. People want their family members home. I know I would love nothing more than to have my brother come home. I miss him dearly, and I worry about him daily. But he is inclined to stay until the fight is over. Granted, he is not in Iraq. He is in Afghanistan, but that does not change the tune of the record being played by the cutand run caucus. The Hill had this report from June 26th on this very subject.

The simple fact of the matter is that this sort of thinking is backwards. A withdrawal from Iraq is not the answer. In fact, it is entirely the wrong answer. British troops have begun a pull out from Iraq in stages, and they still have jihadist problems over there, as evidenced by this past weekedns attempted terror attacks. What the Senate -- correction, the cut and run caucus -- must do is be patient, and see what the surge report reveals in September.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well evaluated and said. I've Pete Domenici(NM) to my list of 12 Rino's making it 13. I often wonder where these people are getting their intelligence reports? Sounds like they are in bed with al Queada. They apparently don't understand al Queda wants them dead. Rawriter

July 5, 2007 at 8:32 PM  

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