No Escalation

There’s buzz building about a speech by Senator Ted Kennedy at the National Press Conference Club this morning. The Senator is sponsoring a bill requiring congressional approval of Bush’s planned escalation in Iraq.

Eventually I hope to post a YouTube video of the speech. Raw Story has a transcript.

In a conference call to bloggers, the Senator reminded us that the resolution of October 2002 that authorized use of force in Iraq was predicated on three assumptions: (1) That Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction; (2) that Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship with al Qaeda; and (3) that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions. Well, the first two turned out to be false, and the third is now moot. President Bush cannot assume to continue military action in Iraq without further authorization.

But time is critical. If Congress doesn’t speak right now, Bush could have more troops on their way to Iraq the day after tomorrow. And then Congress would be put on the spot to refuse appropriations for actions already taken and troops already deployed.

The idea that Congress doesn’t have the authority to limit Bush’s actions is refuted by history. The Center for American Progress has a list of caps and limitations imposed by Congress in military adventures past.

Robert Greenwald forwarded this email from the Senator and asked it be disseminated:

Thank you so much for your concern and involvement on the issue of Iraq. I deeply believe that Iraq is the defining issue of our time. I am proud to have voted against the authorization for war in 2002, but the issue now is what we do going forward. Tomorrow night, President Bush is going to outline for the nation his “way forward” in Iraq. And from all reports, his way forward involves escalating American involvement by sending up to 20,000 more soldiers and Marines to fight in the middle of what has become a civil war. Every American, no matter what their political stripe, knows that the current strategy isn’t working and that we need a better way forward. I believe that President Bush’s plan is the wrong way forward. It’s just stay the course under a different name, and I strongly oppose it.

Today, I will introduce legislation that requires Congress to vote before the President escalates troop levels in Iraq. My legislation will provide that not one additional soldier can be sent and not one additional dollar can be expended until Congress debates and approves the President’s proposed escalation of American forces in Iraq. If the election in November was about anything, it was about accountability and the need for a changed policy in Iraq. Most Americans oppose this war, and an even more oppose sending more troops to Iraq. The American people deserve to be heard before we appropriate additional funds for additional troops in Iraq. In October 2002, Congress authorized (1) a war against the regime of Saddam Hussein because (2) he was believed to have weapons of mass destruction and (3) an operational relationship with Al Qaeda, and (4) because he was in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolution. Today, Saddam Hussein is dead and we know that there were no weapons of mass destruction or operational relationships with Al Qaeda and there is a new, elected government in Iraq that is not in defiance of a Security Council Resolution. No one can dispute that the mission of our armed forces today in Iraq no longer bears any resemblance to the mission authorized by Congress.

Instead of continued mistakes and shoot-from-the-hip policies, it’s time to get this right. The President must make clear the mission of our troops and lay out a path to bring them home, and Congress must stop being a rubberstamp for failed policies and stand up and act.

We know from history that an escalation of troops into a civil war won’t work. Our leaders tried it in Vietnam, and each surge of force lead to the next. It escalated the war, instead of ending it. Like Vietnam, there is no military solution to Iraq, only political. It seems that the President is almost the last person in America to understand that.

An escalation of American forces would only compound the original misguided decision to invade Iraq. A military escalation in Iraq will not strengthen our national security; rather, it would further weaken it by enabling the Iraqis to avoid taking responsibility for their own future. And an escalation will not lead us to victory. American troops can’t force the Iraqis reconcile their internal differences.

Our service men and women in Iraq have served with distinction and valor. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do, and they’ve done it well. More than 3,000 of our best and our brightest have been killed in Iraq and more than 22,000 more have being wounded, many of them seriously. Our troops deserve a policy worthy of their sacrifice and their bravery, and I will continue to fight until we have one.

I urge every American to ensure their voice is heard in this critical decision. When the President speaks tomorrow night, he must be reminded that accountability and responsibility are no longer extinct in Washington ? they are alive and well.

Thank you, Robert, for always being involved in what Olive Wendell Holmes called the passion and action of our time. You continue to make an enormous difference. All the best,

Ted Kennedy

So, right now, contact your congressperson. Contact your senators. Write letters to newspapers. Do whatever you can to show support for Congress to stop more useless slaughter.

Update: Gallup Poll says the public opposes troop escalation by 61% to 36%.

14 thoughts on “No Escalation

  1. Uh, twice in my comment #1. I pasted “Senator Kenndy” in over “Teddy”, because somehow it seems that lions in winter deserve appropriate respect. I then I go and mispell his name….

    Sounds like the Senator will have full blown laryngitis by the end of the day.

    Other necessary viewing for the day: “Colbert has an epiphany” Factiness

  2. Pingback: The Mahablog » Sen. Edward Kennedy Iraq Speech at National Press Club

  3. This proposal is clearly intended to pre-empt the speech tomorrow night. It’s very good media politics, but has it been thought through? Very likely, and I don’t necesarrily think it a bad thing, there will be a Democratic president in the immediate future. No matter what happens in Iraq, good or bad, the threat of conflict in the Middle East or Asia spreading to our shores, in the form of terrorism or an actual attack on the U.S. by an identified state, is not out of the question. Does Sen. Kennedy wish a Democratic president’s constitutional prerogatives and duties hamstrung by foriegn policy by referendum?

    BTW: the 2006 election was an off-year Congressional. It’s a very long throw home from deep, deep left field to interpret the results as somehow universal agreement “of the people” with the policies of any political party (ever).

  4. There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

    I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

    If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

    The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

    How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the new Sec. Def.Mr. Gates, understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

    Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

    From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

    This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

    This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed.

    We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

  5. stevesh – there is no ‘universal agreement’ ever in the US. However, impartial study of the election results showed that the Republican base did turn out, as did the Democrats, but the Independent voters shifted almost entirely away from the Republicans. Polls also showed then and now: Iraq is the #1 issue by far. Don’t indulge in fantasy or hallucination by suggesting the election results were disconnected with dissatisfaction with the Iraq folly.

    I love the talking point you brought up about “terrorrism or an actual attack on the US by an identified state”. The Intelligence agencies – our government – concluded the war in Iraq has made terrorism a worse threat. By occupying Iraq, we are recruiting FOR terrorists. Can you explain how we are more safe from an attack “by an identified state” with our military pinned down in a civil war on the other side of the globe???

  6. I’d like to raise the issue of whether it is ever ethical in the first place to send soldiers on a mission in which they, themselves, are not able to accomplish the objectives given them.

    Having our soldiers “pacify” Baghdad – even if theoretically possible – still places them in a position of being unable to accomplish anything themselves (formation of a government) that constitutes “completing their mission.”

    IMO, any legitimate american military objective is one that can be accomplished exclusively by US military, absolutely regardless of the actions or wishes of foreign politicians or nationals.

  7. I note that the gallup link shows that they get 36% support by describing it as a “temporary but significant increase”, and by adding together the strongly and “moderately” for(and against).

    Makes you wonder what the results would be if they simply asked,

    “do you favor sending more combat troops to Iraq?”

    and only allowed “yes”, “no” or “not sure” as answers.

    Besides, how can you be moderately in favor of a troop increase? 18 percent(half of the 36 percent) said this. If they were allowed to say “not sure” or I don’t know, what would the numbers have been? I’m sorry, but this is a weasley survey.

  8. Here is the mail-in letter to IMPEACH Bush. MAILIT ON MONDAY, JAN 15th!! (and do not worry about any “president cheney” when you kill a snake, it’s head dies with it)

    From (Name & Address):

    To the Honorable House of Representatives of the United States:

    The petition of _____________________, a citizen of the State of _________________, and of the United States, respectfully showeth:

    That, Jefferson’s Manual section LIII, 603, states that impeachment may be set in motion by charges preferred by a memorial, which is usually referred to a committee for examination; and

    The memorial goes on to set forth that, George W. Bush has intentionally misled the Congress and the public regarding the threat from Iraq in order to justify a war against Iraq, intentionally conspired with others to defraud the United States in connection with the war against Iraq in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 371; and

    The memorial goes on to set forth that, George W. Bush has admitted to ordering the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance of American civilians without seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, duly constituted by Congress in 1978, in violation of Title 50 United States Code, Section 1805; and

    The memorial goes on to set forth that, George W. Bush has conspired to commit the torture of prisoners in violation of the “Federal Torture Act” Title 18 United States Code, Section 113C, the UN Torture Convention and the Geneva Convention, which under Article VI of the Constitution are part of the “supreme Law of the Land”; and

    The memorial goes on to set forth that, George W. Bush has acted to strip Americans of their constitutional rights by ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to legal counsel, without charge and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the President of a U.S. citizen as an “enemy combatant”, all in subversion of law; and

    The memorial goes on to set forth that, In all of this George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

    In conclusion the memoralist says:

    Having thus submitted to your honorable body the facts of his case, your petitioner begs leave to observe that it appears from those facts:

    First. That the said George W. Bush has, in his capacity of President of the United States, been guilty of usurping a power which the laws of the land did not give him.

    Second. That said George W. Bush has exercised his power, be the same usurped or legitimate, to the detriment of every citizen of the United States.

    Wherefore, and inasmuch as the said George W. Bush has violated the most sacred and undoubted rights of the inhabitants of these United States, your petitioner prays that the conduct and proceedings in this behalf, of said George W. Bush, may be inquired into by your honorable body, and such decision made therein to impeach, to appoint managers to conduct the impeachment trial in the Senate, and to inform the Senate of these facts by resolution (Manual Sec. 607; Deschler Ch 14 Sec. 9) for trial and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States;

    And your petitioner, as in duty bound, will pray.

    Signature Date
    ——————————————————— ————

    Print Name: __________________________________

  9. Re: that impeachment letter for jan 15th…
    read about it here: Print the letter here: (scroll down)
    MAIL To: Honorable Nancy Pelosi
    450 Golden Gate Ave.
    14th Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94102

    and the REASON we send it there instead of to the Congressional offices is this:
    Q: “Won’t the new ‘irradiation process’ (due to the anthrax scare) delay your mailings?
    A: Because of this process, we are using Nancy Pelosi’s home office.
    (the first mailings late last year may not have been ?delivered?received?answered?)

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