Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Opportunity to Oppose Escalation - in a Real Way

From Kevin Drum's Washington Monthly:

MORE SURGE....The surge is getting even surgier. This has barely even been reported in U.S. newspapers, but the Pentagon has apparently decided that 21,500 extra troops aren't enough:
Gordon England, deputy secretary of defence, revealed [on Tuesday] that army commanders were requesting reinforcements beyond the 21,500 personnel already earmarked for the so-called "surge" into the capital.

"At this point, our expectation is the number of ... troops could go above 21,500 by about 4,000, maybe as many as 7,000," the official told the House of Representatives Budget committee in Washington.

An AP dispatch elaborates:
Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England told the Senate Budget Committee last week that about 6,000 additional support personnel -- such as headquarters staff, military police, and medical personnel -- would be needed to complement the 21,500 additional combat troops....The request probably will come to about $2 billion.

Are they seriously trying to pretend that they just forgot they'd need support troops as well as combat troops? Please.

In any case, this is the Democrats' first chance to oppose the surge in a serious, non-symbolic way: they can refuse to approve the additional $2 billion. Even if the Pentagon goes ahead and reallocates money from some other account to fund the extra troops, this would still be a concrete way to oppose any further escalation. But do they have the spine to do it?

Just to recap Jane Harman's stated opposition to the surge:

From her December HuffingtonPost piece,Harman to President Bush: Send More Troops to Iraq...NOT!:

That this administration could still think an escalated military option is a credible path to stability and democracy in Iraq is alarming, and indicative of how far removed from reality this president and his inner circle are.

[...]

Well, I have a message for this President, and it's not a joke: Mr. Bush, send more troops to Iraq...NOT!

And from from her January piece Making a Big Mistake Even Worse:
A surge in troops may have been a great idea three and a half years ago but it makes no sense now. There is no way to achieve success in Iraq using military force.
[...]
We've attempted surges in Iraq four times in the last two years. None of them worked.
[...]
We need to start redeploying our troops out of Iraq now, something I've been saying for over six months. Last summer was the last chance for the military mission to succeed. It didn't. So I am supporting H. Res. 41, introduced by my Massachusetts colleague Marty Meehan, expressing disapproval of the President's policy. And I am reviewing proposals to limit or end funding for additional military personnel in Iraq.

If the surge "makes no sense now", if our last chance for the military mission has already passed us by, if similar surges have "not worked", and if Harman's own six-months-hence criteria for success in Iraq are just as unmet in month 9 as on day 1, then surely she can bring herself to deny the backend request that Bush purposefully held back.

This would be a baby-step in the right direction. If she can get past this, then she can put her focus on where she says it needs to be: redeployment (aka withdrawal). It's essential that our troop withdrawal start now and be fully funded. Instead of spending funds escalating a military mission that Harman says has no chance of success, we could be devoting those precious resources to getting our troops out safely.

A dollar spent on the surge is a dollar less for safe withdrawal.

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