The Washington Post reported this today:
With Congress preparing for renewed debate over President Bush’s Iraq policies, a majority of Americans now support setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from the war-torn nation and support putting new conditions on the military that could limit the number of personnel available for duty there, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Opposition to Bush’s plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq remained strong. Two in three Americans registered their disapproval, with 56 percent saying they strongly object. The House recently passed a nonbinding resolution opposing the new deployments, but Republicans have blocked consideration of such a measure in the Senate.
It is amazing how the Congress gave General Petraeus a 100% vote of confidence, and are now protesting the plan that he asked to use through the summer to try and turn the corner in Iraq. What the Democratic Party and Leadership need to do is to either fund or defund and not spend countless hours on resolutions that are more closely aligned to an angry student shooting a spitball at an unpopular teacher, rather than meaningful legislation.
Senate Democrats, led by Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (Mich.) and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), are preparing another resolution that would have the effect of taking away the authority Bush was granted in 2002 to go to war. The measure would seek to have virtually all combat forces withdrawn from Iraq by the end of March 2008.
What the Democratic Party needs to do is to up or down vote funding or defunding. The other thing that they may wish to consider is the effect this may have of boomeranging upon them from their own left base, which wants defunding, and centrists who probably will not appreciate seeing the prosecution of the insurgency/counterinsurgency as a political football. Another key element is that Senator Lieberman (I) has restated his discontent with the Democrat’s proposals, and may start to caucas with GOP lawmakers rather than with Dems.
The Post-ABC poll found that 53 percent of Americans favored setting a deadline for troop withdrawals. Among those who favored a deadline, 24 percent said they would like to see U.S. forces out within six months and 21 percent called for the withdrawals to be completed within a year. The rest of those who supported a timetable said they do not support withdrawing all troops until at least a year from now.
While the people may want this, there is little likelihood this gets out of the Senate, although more than a few GOP lawmakers are unhappy about the situation in Iraq, who isn’t, it is unlikely that even Senator Hegel would break ranks from the President’s position so soon into the surge. This will become more of an issue if the surge is non-effective by August, but until then this poll has little tooth to it.
Some Democrats have called for cutting off money for the war. The Post-ABC News poll found that 46 percent of Americans supported restricting funding while a bare majority, 51 percent, opposed doing so.
I would want to look at the internals of this poll, as this number does not seem to add up to what other pollsters have said, which has been showing nearly 60% are opposed to defunding the troops. While this is the step that should be taken, if the Democrats in Congress want to withdraw, doing so could be political suicide. Were the sentiments about defunding this close, it is a sure thing that the Dems would defund. I suspect this part of the poll was either phrased poorly or had a bad sampling pool.
There was clear support, however, for the kinds of conditions proposed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), who wants to establish requirements for the training and resting of military units that would have the effect of limiting the number of troops available to send to Iraq.
Murtha’s plan has drawn fire in the House, including from some of his Democratic colleagues, after it was announced on a liberal Web site. The Post-ABC News poll, which did not associate the plan with Murtha, found that 58 percent of Americans said they support such new rules. Even some Americans, 21 percent, who supported the president’s troop increase said they would favor rules for training and resting troops.
Rep. Murtha’s plan has solid merit. This was posted, bravely by “Oak Leaf” and Polipundit.com, and he was crucified for daring to agree with Congressman Murtha. Troops do need time to refit and retrain. This is particularly true in the all volunteer military forces, which have much less manpower to draw upon than in previous wars where conscription was used.
Also, the type of warfare, which our armed forces have not been trained, nor is it within our doctrine, find themselves engage within, has a geometric rate of causing troops to revitalize themselves. I for one would love to see the TOE reports for each unit, and Rep. Murtha’s refitting and retraining goals make sense, but, would likely be used, and this appears rather obvious, to deny the commanders the assets they need to complete their operational missions.
Early indications are the surge is having a positive effect on day to day operational conditions within Baghdad. This combined with more direct involvement by Iraqi security forces, and redrawn rules of engagement may yield a high level of success. Sadly, the way this issue is being used as a political football, will the smiles which will abound if that occurs be a result of the mission’s success or failure be due the results in the case of success, or the ability to wipe a political opponents nose in something unpleasant to smell.