Monday, July 09, 2007

Another Slight Shift on the War

Adam has done all of the blogging about the politics of the war in Iraq lately, mostly because he follows Congress closely and is pretty good at explaining things succinctly but thoroughly. But I wanted to take a moment to weigh in on this article from yesterday's NY Times on the continuing struggle in Congress to shift the direction of the war:

Sensing momentum from the new Republican defections, Mr. Reid and other leading Democrats intend to force a series of votes over the next two weeks on proposals to withdraw troops and limit spending. Democrats are increasingly confident they can assemble majority opposition to administration policies.

“It is going to be harder for Republicans to not sign on to something with bite in it, a clear Congressional assessment that change is needed,” said Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “I think it is more likely there will be a majority around here that say we should begin to redeploy some forces by a certain date, and I hope it would be a larger majority.”

As the article explains, Democrats have struggled to change the strategy in Iraq, largely because of Republican stone-walling in the Senate. I know that the three of us here were hugely disappointed by the failure of Democrats in Congress to send some kind of bill to President Bush that threatened to cut off funding unless non-waivable benchmarks of some kind were met. Adam wrote early last month about the Democrats intent to keep pushing Republicans on the war over the summer, but I-like a lot of people-thought that any real movement on de-funding the war was over until September, when Republicans would use the lack of progress expcted to be reported in Gen. Petraeus' progress report as political cover to start moving away from support of the war. But as the news from Iraq has shown little sign that things are improving, Republican Senators have started airing their criticisms of the present strategy out in the open. I presume this is an effort to test the political climate before they jump feet first off the war bandwagon, as none of them have actually come out and pledged their support for any shift in the form of an actual vote in the Senate. I don't know if any significant legislation on the war can be passed before September, but I think the Democratic strategy is paying off. It's starting to look as if the progress report will merely be a confirmation of a shift in strategy, and not the starting point for one. Or at least, we can hope such is the case.

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