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Monday, April 23, 2007

When the president threatens the lives of American soliders if he doesn't get his way, what should we do?
Posted by Jill | 5:32 AM
Ever since the standoff with Congress about war funding began, I've believed that George W. Bush would leave every American soldier over there in Iraq as long as he wants -- even if it means no money for their food, uniforms, water, weaponry, armor, and the other things they need to survive. After all, a psychopath of a president who went to war on the cheap in the first place and who is used to throwing tantrums to get his own way isn't going to start caring if the men who report to them, say, starve to death, now, is he?

Paul Krugman reports today on how American soldiers are being held hostage by their own commander-in-chief:

There are two ways to describe the confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over funding for the Iraq surge. You can pretend that it’s a normal political dispute. Or you can see it for what it really is: a hostage situation, in which a beleaguered President Bush, barricaded in the White House, is threatening dire consequences for innocent bystanders — the troops — if his demands aren’t met.


What’s at stake right now is the latest Iraq “supplemental.” Since the beginning, the administration has refused to put funding for the war in its regular budgets. Instead, it keeps saying, in effect: “Whoops! Whaddya know, we’re running out of money. Give us another $87 billion.”

At one level, this is like the behavior of an irresponsible adolescent who repeatedly runs through his allowance, each time calling his parents to tell them he’s broke and needs extra cash.

What I haven’t seen sufficiently emphasized, however, is the disdain this practice shows for the welfare of the troops, whom the administration puts in harm’s way without first ensuring that they’ll have the necessary resources.

As long as a G.O.P.-controlled Congress could be counted on to rubber-stamp the administration’s requests, you could say that this wasn’t a real problem, that the administration’s refusal to put Iraq funding in the regular budget was just part of its usual reliance on fiscal smoke and mirrors. But this time Mr. Bush decided to surge additional troops into Iraq after an election in which the public overwhelmingly rejected his war — and then dared Congress to deny him the necessary funds. As I said, it’s an act of hostage-taking.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. According to reports, the final version of the funding bill Congress will send won’t even set a hard deadline for withdrawal. It will include only an “advisory,” nonbinding date. Yet Mr. Bush plans to veto the bill all the same — and will then accuse Congress of failing to support the troops.


Everyone talks about the political risks of confrontation, recalling the backlash when Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in 1995. But there’s a big difference between trying to force a fairly popular president to accept deep cuts in Medicare — which is what the 1995 confrontation was about — and trying to get a deeply unpopular, distrusted president to set some limits on an immensely unpopular war.

Meanwhile, there are big political risks on the other side. If Congress responds to a presidential veto by offering an even weaker bill, voters may well react with disgust, concluding that the whole debate over the war was nothing but political theater.


The fact is that Mr. Bush’s refusal to face up to the failure of his Iraq adventure, his apparent determination to spend the rest of his term in denial, has become a clear and present danger to national security. Thanks to the demands of the Iraq war, we’re already a superpower without a strategic reserve, unable to respond to crises that might erupt elsewhere in the world. And more and more military experts warn that repeated deployments in Iraq — now extended to 15 months — are breaking the back of our volunteer military.

If nothing is done to wind down this war during the 21 months — 21 months! — Mr. Bush has left, the damage may be irreparable.

Krugman is being charitable here. The damage is already irreparable. It's hard to believe that one president of limited acumen can wreck an entire world in just six short years. But with the help of a rubberstamp Republican Congress for five-and-three-quarters of them, and a craven and cowardly Democratic one for the first quarter of 2007 that is now planning to cave and submit a bill containing an "advisory" withdrawal date, that's exactly what he's done.

Democrats need to stand up now and submit bill after bill containing funding, plus a withdrawal date. And when this president leaves over 150,000 American troops as sitting ducks in Iraq, unfunded, unclothed, unfed, and unarmed, to be massacred, then perhaps Nancy Pelosi might consider putting impeachment back on the table. Because when Maureen Dowd is already laying the groundwork for Republicans to impeach President John Edwards for getting a $400 haircut before taking office, the least Democrats can do is impeach a president who would leave unfunded troops in harms way because he thinks he is not just their commander in chief, but Congress' and ours as well.

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