2.16.2007

The U.S. Congress Owes Americans A Serious and Thoughtful Debate on the War in Iraq

David Broder is one of America's most respected political observer and columnist. In today's Washington Post, he makes the claim that President Bush Regains His Footing.

Broder's point is that after a long period of being pummeled in the press and by political opponents, the president may be regaining his mojo. How? By boxing the Democrats in on the issue of funding his troops surge.

The president is betting that many of the Democrats are more bark than bite. That is, that while they are willing to ratchet up their anti-war surge rhetoric, many will not take the political risk of actually voting against funding the war surge.

What's being set up is a situation in which Democrats representing swing districts (and lacking strong personal convictions) will vote for the nonbinding resolution opposing the war surge today, but then tomorrow vote to fund the surge, anyway. A classic "I was against it until I was for it" scenario which Republicans could then use to their advantage as the 'swinging' Democrats are made to feel increasingly vulnerable back home.

Of course, Democrats could turn around and put their votes where their mouths are and either approve a binding resolution against the surge or vote down the president's war budget.

While politically risky, voting against the surge is not as risky as Republicans think. Polls show that most Americans oppose injecting yet more troops into what has clearly devolved into an unwinnable civil war. The truth is that as unfortunate as civil wars are, they are never resolved through external force. If anything, the presence of an external power may actually prolong the factions coming together politically.

In support of their party's president, the Republicans successfully discouraged an open and vibrant debate on the war over the last four years. But last fall, voters put Democrats in charge of the Congress, in part, because Republicans failed to provide a check on the president. Given the election, the $2 billion spent daily on the war, and serious questions about the rationale for continued involvement in Iraq, the Democrats owe the public the war debate it has never had.

Without a serious and thoughtful debate on the Iraq War and national security, the Democrats will fail the American people.