Straw Man Resolution In Congress

Straw Man Resolution in Congress:
Joking around with the Lives of the Troops

Brad Blog gives the text of Democratic congressman and retired Marine Colonel John Murtha’s resolution on Iraq:

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That:

Section 1. The deployment of United States Forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3. The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

By the way, Murtha’s plan resembles in some ways the one I myself had put forward last last August. I am pleased to see that someone with substantial military experience is thinking along similar lines. Murtha called for an end to US military “action” in Iraq, as in, presumably, the counter-productive destruction of cities such as Fallujah, Tal Afar and Husaybah.

Note that Murtha calls for a withdrawal (“redeployment”) of US ground troops from Iraq at the earliest date that would be practical. That is, he is not saying that you could get them out tomorrow. “Practicality” would involve considerations such as not having Iraq collapse altogether.

This is what I had said:

‘ 1) US ground troops should be withdrawn ASAP from urban areas as a first step. Iraqi police will just have to do the policing . . . 2) In the second phase of withdrawal, most US ground troops would steadily be brought out of Iraq.’

Note further that Murtha foresees a US quick-reaction force being left in theater. You could imagine it being based in two places: Kurdistan in the north and Kuwait in the south. I have argued for a similar force, which could intervene if set-piece battles broke out and Iraq looked as though it was falling into large-scale civil war. (Indeed, this is just the sort of light, mobile special ops force that SecDef Donald Rumsfeld says is the future of the US military).

I had suggested,

‘3) For as long as the elected Iraqi government wanted it, the US would offer the new Iraqi military and security forces close air support in any firefight they have with guerrilla or other rebellious forces . . . 4) With the agreement of the elected Iraqi government, the US would prevent any guerrilla force from fielding any large number of fighters for set piece battles.’

Murtha is not giving up on Iraq, just urging diplomacy rather than white phosphorus and prison torture as the way forward.

I had written,

‘The US should demand as a quid pro quo for further help that the Iraqi government announce an amnesty for all former Baath Party members who cannot be proven to have committed serious crimes, including crimes against humanity . . . The US should join the regular meetings of the foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbors, with Condi Rice in attendance, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, employing a 6 + 2 diplomatic track to help put Iraq back on its feet through diplomacy and multilateral aid. ‘

Murtha was viciously attacked for his judicious resolution, and this courageous and honorable man was smeared as some sort of coward by persons who wouldn’t know an M-16 from a 5 iron.

Ironically enough, General Casey was at the same time giving Rumsfeld a plan for US troop withdrawal! Its terms?

‘ The plan, which would withdraw a limited amount of troops during 2006, requires that a host of milestones be reached before troops are withdrawn. Top Pentagon officials have repeatedly discussed some of those milestones: Iraqi troops must demonstrate that they can handle security without U.S. help; the country’s political process must be strong; and reconstruction and economic conditions must show signs of stability. ‘

In other words, the troops would be withdrawn as soon as practicable, and practicality is spelled out in these ways.

All Murtha is saying is that Casey’s plan should be speeded up, and that dependence on a big infantry force on the ground should be replaced by quick reaction forces based nearby. The argument, in short, is not about the preconditions for withdrawal but about its exact shape and rate.

Republicans in Congress responded to Murtha’s considered plan by introducing a phony resolution the bore little resemblance to Murtha’s, and then helping defeat it overwhelmingly. The intent was apparently to force the Democrats either to look as though they were in favor of “cutting and running” or to vote against immediately withdrawing US troops and so associating themselves with Bush’s ‘stay the course’ policy. The Republican straw man resolution was:

‘ Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

1 Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately. ‘

Well, this stupid resolution is not what Murtha was saying, and the vote on it is meaningless. It is worse than meaningless. It is political clowning.

Indeed, given the GIs being blown up on a daily basis, the Republican phony resolution was the equivalent of trying to do a stand-up comedy routine at the funeral of someone’s beloved son who had died at age 20.

I don’t think the American people will find it amusing. We’ll see in 2006 whether they did.