Who’s playing politics with the war? You tell me:
Democrats are not expected to take up President Bush’s war spending request until November, giving them time to calculate their next move and see if Republican support for his policies deteriorates.
The delay in passing the bill, which Bush says is needed by Oct. 1, is likely to intensify the standoff between the Democratic-controlled Congress and Bush, who says at least 130,000 troops are needed in Iraq through next summer.
The Democrat White Flag strategy is to punish the troops just when the counterinsurgency/surge measures are showing signs of success:
At the Pentagon on Monday, officials released a quarterly report on the war that echoed last week’s testimony of Gen. David Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq. The report cited recent gains in security, including a decrease in sectarian killings, but little political progress in Baghdad.
Recent operations “have started to create the security conditions that will allow the government of Iraq to implement reforms and pursue reconciliation initiatives,” the report states.
In February, Bush requested $147 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in budget year 2008, which begins Oct. 1. As early as this week, Bush is expected to ask for another $40 billion to $50 billion.
[John] Murtha, who chairs the House committee that oversees military spending, estimated Congress is likely to ignore the request until November.
But don’t question their…never mind.
Meanwhile, back in Iraq, Michael Yon reports on the continuing hunt for al Qaeda. Go look at all his photos. Michael writes:
I watched during the Senate hearings on 11 September 07 as some Senators attempted to corner General Petraeus, insinuating that the war in Iraq was a distraction from the fight against al Qaeda. It was clearly that during the initial invasion, but not today. These photos were taken at the center of what al Qaeda claimed to be their worldwide headquarters. Listening to some of the Senators’ questions, the true magnitude of the gulf between what is happening in Iraq and what people in America think is happening in Iraq became apparent. Some Senators clearly had been doing their homework and were asking smart questions—if negative at times—but others seemed completely ignorant of the ground situation here, which adds nothing meaningful to the debate.
And in Samarra, Jeff Emanuel reports:
Samarra, Iraq — The ‘Surge’ in Iraq, and the counterinsurgency strategy that the increase in forces was designed to support, has succeeded, in a very brief span of time, far beyond what most familiar with the situation there would ever have imagined – let alone realistically expected. A large part of the reason for this is that, in many different ways, the people of Iraq have shown bravery that we can only hope that Americans, if put into the same situation, would ever dream of showing.
Rather than simply taking the terrorist presence in their country lying down, many Iraqis, in many different locations, have shown amazing courage, not only by providing an ever-increasing amount of information to coalition forces regarding insurgent activity, but also by working to rebuild what the insurgents have destroyed, as well as by putting their lives on the line to drive terrorists out of their own villages, despite honestly not knowing whether they will wake up the next day to find that the coalition – currently their best source of protection – has succumbed to the calls from the home front (which are heard loud and clear over here, by civilians and terrorists alike) to leave Iraq, and has abandoned them.
In April and May of this year, and again from the beginning of August through the present, I have been embedded in some of the most kinetic combat zones in Iraq, observing Gen. Petraeus’s strategy from the ground level in several different locations, and have seen clear evidence of the strategy’s effects on the situation there, from increased security to improvements in quality of life for the Iraqi people.
I have personally observed Medical Operations, in which coalition medics and doctors provided Iraqi tribesmen and villagers with a level of care that had been unheard-of in this country even before the fall of Saddam Hussein. I have toured reconstruction sites being worked on by Iraqi contractors, and have ridden along in gun-truck escorts whose job is to protect these men as they work to rebuild their own country (while terrorists try not only to kill them, but to destroy any and all improvements they have managed to provide for their countrymen in infrastructure and quality of life).
I have sat in on meetings – both above-board and clandestine – with sheiks and tribal leaders, who want the coalition to help them help themselves and their people to achieve better and more secure lives, despite the fact that being seen consorting with the Americans immediately puts a price on each of these leaders’ heads; likewise, I have heard the concern voiced – more times than I can even count – that the coalition, which currently remains the sole source of stability and security in this country, will give in to the cries from home to abandon the Iraqi people to death, and will finally do so.
I have participated in combat operations which were driven solely by intelligence provided by Iraqi citizens who knew of terrorist plots and personnel in the area and called the Americans to let them know; likewise, I, like the soldiers whom I have covered, have had my life saved several times by tips from the Iraqi citizenry about IEDs and ambushes put into place to kill us.
Much, much more of this must happen if Iraq is even to have a chance at a brighter future – but at this point, though this is still a very broken country, with a great deal of instability, unrest, and upheaval, progress is inarguably being made.
Victory Caucus: Stand by the mission.