Bush finds no way out of Iraq as approval ratings plunge
[QUOTE]By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Published: 11 July 2007
On the ground in Iraq, George Bush's war may long ago have sunk into an unwinnable morass. But the second week of July 2007 is set to go down as the moment when he started to lose control of Iraq policy-making at home as well.
The beleaguered, hugely unpopular President made yet another defence of his troop "surge" yesterday. At a public appearance in Ohio, he insisted that troop levels in Iraq "will be decided by our commanders on the ground, not by political figures in Washington DC". He conceded: "I fully understand that this is a difficult war. It's hard on the American people. But I will once again explain the consequences of failure to the American people."
As he spoke, Congress was preparing to vote on a host of mainly Democratic amendments on a $650bn (£320bn) Pentagon funding bill. All of them would to some degree curtail Mr Bush's authority. Now, as Republican defections multiply, for the first time some of them may succeed.
At the end of this week, moreover, the White House will deliver an interim report on political and military progress in Iraq, that will show - as headlines and television pictures confirm - that the sectarian violence continues, armed militias flourish, and that the government of Nouri al-Maliki is failing to take the promised steps towards national reconciliation.
The administration contends that the report is a mere snapshot of the situation before the just completed US troop increase has had time to show results. For critics, however, the bleak findings merely confirm that US soldiers are trapped where they do not belong, in the middle of a civil war in all but name.
Further fuelling the dissent are new figures yesterday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, showing that the war is now costing $10bn a month. Total spending on Iraq is now close to $500bn. If Afghanistan is included, the "war on terror" has cost more than $600bn, little less than Vietnam.
In the meantime, US casualties now stand at 3,650 dead and 25,000 wounded, with May and June especially bloody months.
Speaking in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr Bush sought to rally wavering Republicans by holding out the prospect of troop reductions after the surge, and once again spoke of "a plan for victory". But force levels "will be decided by commanders on the ground, not by politicians in Washington DC" - referring to two Senate amendments calling for a withdrawal of combat forces before April 2008. In May, Mr Bush vetoed one war-funding bill that contained such a provision. This time, however, it may not be so simple.
Forcing his hand is the gathering pace of Republican defections on Capitol Hill. At least 10 Republicans have in varying degrees broken ranks. Were they to vote with the 49 Democrats opposed to the war, the bloc would be close to the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. A few more Republican rebels would bring it close to the two-thirds majority that overrides a presidential veto.
In a sign of the administration's concern, Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, cancelled a scheduled visit this week to Latin America to lobby Republicans. And Stephen Hadley, the President's National Security Adviser, cut short a holiday to go to Capitol Hill to implore wobbling Republicans to hold the line.
The administration is pressing them to reserve judgement until September, when General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador in Baghdad, will deliver their own reports.
September is fast-forwarding to July. Back in their states and districts, senators and congressmen have had a first-hand taste of public discontent with the war and President Bush - and how identification with either could cost them re-election in 2008.
The real quandary, since Iraq began its descent into anarchy, is not so much when to draw down troops, but whether a US pull out, complete with timetable, would not hand victory to Iraqi insurgents, and generate even more chaos than exists already.
The very number of rival amendments underlines the dilemma. One would lengthen periods between deployments in Iraq, amounting to a "slow bleed" of US troop strength. Another would force the administration to follow the findings of the 2006 Iraq Study Group: to launch a diplomatic offensive and scale back combat operations from 2008.
The proposals also obscure another truth - that whatever happens, a substantial body of US troops will still be in Iraq, whether as combat forces, "advisers" or trainers, when President Bush leaves office in January 2009. Beyond that is the matter of whether the US retains bases in the country after withdrawal, another longer-term issue the current political showdown does not touch upon.
"The [September] Petraeus report won't make much difference," said Anthony Cordesman, of the Centre for International and Strategic Studies, a leading Iraq analyst here. "No matter what happens, the only thing that would allow a clear decision would be a disastrous failure." Even in strictly military terms, success would be slow, he said, while even if the Maliki government did pass reconciliation measures, they would have little impact before 2008 at the earliest. The lesson from comparable conflicts elsewhere was that an international force would be needed for a decade or more. Mr Cordesman forecast that 10,000 or 15,000 advisers might stay in Iraq on a long-term basis. [/QUOTE]
[QUOTE=Come Back to NY]and as bad as his rating may be they are still ten points higher than the leftist nancee pelosi led congress....[/QUOTE]
and your point is?????
Actually, Nancy Pelosi's individual national approval raiting is 40%.
Sure congress has a terrible approval. Thats b/c they failed to end this dumb war which they were voted in to do.
But nuu it has never ever been this low for the President and Congress at the same time. The real problem I see is that Bush has failed to implement a concerted winning policy in Iraq it is more like an ebb and flow policy. War is not about making friends it is about kicking ass and going home. Trying to make friends with Al Sadr is like kissing the devil. You know you will get burned.
[QUOTE=kennyo7]and your point is?????
Actually, Nancy Pelosi's individual national approval raiting is 40%.
Sure congress has a terrible approval. Thats b/c they failed to end this dumb war which they were voted in to do.[/QUOTE]
I think that after the last election the Dems now have the majority in both houses....clearly, all they have to do to end the war is vote en bloc, and we can pull out tomorrow.
[QUOTE=Greenwave81]Why haven't you done that yet?[/QUOTE]
Because Democrats are absolutely terrified of the Republican PR machine. They are scared to death that the second they vote against the war in any way, the Reps are going to paint them as not supporting the troops. They are more concerned with avoiding bad re-election soundbites than doing what they were elected to do.
Like CBTNY likes to constantly point out...they are spineless.
[QUOTE=PlumberKhan]Because Democrats are absolutely terrified of the Republican PR machine. They are scared to death that the second they vote against the war in any way, the Reps are going to paint them as not supporting the troops. [B]They are more concerned with avoiding bad re-election soundbites than doing what they were elected to do[/B].
Like CBTNY likes to constantly point out...they are spineless.[/QUOTE]