Monday, January 08, 2007

Bipartisan Opposition to Iraq Escalation

Hey, maybe George W. Bush really is a uniter and not a divider, after all...

With Bush expected to announce an escalation to the war in Iraq this week -- which is basically a big "screw you" response to the message sent loud and clear by Americans in November -- people on both sides of the Senate aisle are lining up to let Bush know that he's about to run into rare bipartisan opposition.

Bush even met last week with a group of Senators, including Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) to allegedly listen to their concerns about any escalation in the war and even Ben Nelson (D-NE), a Democrat so conservative that he votes with the GOP more often than some Republicans, walked out unhappy.

"The White House has to make the case for sending in more troops before they send the troops," said Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, after the White House meeting. "We need a new direction, not just a new slogan."

Here's a collection of comments from Senators, including some who were not at the meeting with Bush:

Norm Coleman (R-MN)

"The principal thought among my colleagues was a concern about any kind of surge, about whether it could achieve any clear objectives. And that there would be a real need for the president to be able to articulate that, and convince folks we can accomplish what we want to accomplish. I don't think there was a sense that case had been made."

Russ Feingold (D-WI)

"The Administration refuses to acknowledge the devastating impact that keeping our brave troops in Iraq is having on our national security, and now the President is considering sending even more troops. We should be bringing our troops out of Iraq, not the other way around. The American people’s message at the ballot box was loud and clear, and it is past time that the Administration listened. We must redeploy our troops so that we can focus on the global threats to our security – in Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere – that have only grown while this Administration has remained bogged down in Iraq."

Joe Biden (D-DE)

"As President Bush prepares to announce a new strategy for Iraq, one idea has emerged as his leading option: to surge more troops into Baghdad in a last ditch effort to stabilize the city. There is one big problem with that option: in the absence of a political settlement among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, it will not work. We've tried the military surge option before and it failed. If we try it again, it will fail again.

"And surging our forces in Baghdad risks terrible consequences: more American lives lost and more unbearable strain on our military for no strategic gain. If the President proposes escalation in Iraq, I will oppose him and so will many of my colleagues in Congress."

Larry Craig (R-ID)

"During the meeting I told the President that Idahoans are frustrated with the status quo in Iraq. We support our troops, the goals of the war, and the President. It was our duty to oust a brutal dictator and to make moves to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq and eventually the Middle East. However, we are looking to the commander in chief for a new, clearly defined strategic plan."

Mark Pryor (D-AR)

"I don't support the surge approach unless President Bush will convince me that he has a plan to go with it. I'm not talking about a general plan with a lot of fluff and it sounds good. I'm talking about a real nuts-and-bolts plan.

"I told the president I feel like right now he has the burden of proof. He has to show the American people and has to show Congress that what he's going to do makes sense."

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

“I cannot support adding troops to Iraq unless and until the President makes a compelling case as to why they are needed and as to the clear mission objectives for their presence. So far, that case has not been made.

“Establishing a stable democracy in Iraq is a worthy goal, but such a democracy must grow from within, and be both debated and supported by the Iraqi people if it is going to take root and last. By definition, a democracy is a government for the people, led by the people.

"There is growing urgency to refocus our attention on Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, global nuclear nonproliferation and other fronts which, in many ways, the Iraq war has eclipsed.”

Barack Obama (D-IL)

“I personally indicated that an escalation of troop levels in Iraq was a mistake and that we need a political accommodation, rather than a military approach to the sectarian violence there. I think he recognizes that the status quo is unacceptable and has to change.”

Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

"It's Alice in Wonderland. I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly."