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Democrats: Is That All You Got?

Bush Veto: Right for the Wrong Reasons?

by MIKE FERNER

As expected, Resident Bush immediately vetoed the Democrats "$100 Billion for the War and An Illusion of Withdrawal Bill" otherwise known as HR1591, but now this? MoveOn and the DemBoosters are ringing some kind of dizzy alarm: "Emergency Iraq Rally … show our leaders we mean businesstell Congress this is the key moment to stand strong against the President’s veto."

Come again?!

For all the wrong reasons The Pretender has briefly delayed the next payment of war money and created a momentary crisis among the Empire’s leadership. OK, so don’t pin a medal on the guy, but at least define the current state of affairs as one to take advantage of: get serious about occupying local Congressional offices, tying up traffic, shutting down universities ­ resisting as ifwell, as if lives depended on it.

Let’s examine what the Terrorist-in-Chief vetoed.

To demonstrate his iron will, he rejected a pathetic bill designed to a) keep the money and the blood flowing in Iraq, and b) hoodwink war opponents into thinking it will end the war. For that we’re supposed to urge the peoples’ champions, that pusillanimous pack of Congressional invertebrates to "stand strong?" (Insert expletive here)

Last November, a wave of popular outrage against the war swept the Democratic Party into control of the House and the Senate. This should have been all the backbone they needed to stand strong. But instead of using their powerful mandate to end the war, the Democratic leadership gave us HR 1591, the very embodiment of arrogance towards voters and submission to Empire. To wit:

* Before troops can be deployed to Iraq, Army and Marine commanders must certify in writing that they are "fully mission capable"unless Shrub says "for reasons of national security" they’re good to go.

* Deployments to Iraq will be limited to no more than one year for the Army and 210 days for the Marinesunless Shrub says "for reasons of national security," they’re needed longer.

* After each tour of duty in Iraq, Army units will get a minimum of 365 days back home, Marines 210 daysunless Shrub says "for reasons of national security" they’re needed sooner.

HR 1591 would also have made this the first thoroughly "benchmarked" war in the nation’s history, requiring the Mad Bomber to determine on or before July 1, 2007:

(1) whether the Government of Iraq has given United States Armed Forces and Iraqi Security Forces the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, and is making substantial progress in delivering necessary Iraqi Security Forces for Baghdad and protecting such Forces from political interference; intensifying efforts to build balanced security forces throughout Iraq that provide even-handed security for all Iraqis; ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces; eliminating militia control of local security; establishing a strong militia disarmament program; ensuring fair and just enforcement of laws; establishing political, media, economic, and service committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan; and eradicating safe havens;

(2) whether the Government of Iraq is making substantial progress in meeting its commitment to pursue reconciliation initiatives, including enactment of a hydro-carbon law; adoption of legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections; reform of current laws governing the de-Baathification process; amendment of the Constitution of Iraq; and allocation of Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects;

(3) whether the Government of Iraq and United States Armed Forces are making substantial progress in reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq; and

(4) whether the Government of Iraq is ensuring the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi Parliament are protected."

After this list of, to be charitable, somewhat slippery requirements, Congressional Democrats then laid their clever trap that will bring the troops home:

"If the President fails to make any of the (above) determinationsthe Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq no later than July 1, 2007, with a goal of completing such redeployment within 180 days.

If the President makes the determinations specified (above)the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq not later than October 1, 2007, with a goal of completing such redeployment within 180 days."

Except that what’s even more clever is how they define a withdrawal from Iraq:

After the conclusion of the redeploymentthe Secretary of Defense may not deploy or maintain members of the Armed Forces in Iraq for any purpose other than the following:

Protecting American diplomatic facilities and American citizens, including members of the U.S. armed forces

Serving in roles consistent with customary diplomatic positions

Engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach

Training and equipping members of the Iraqi Security Forces.

In case you’re still waiting for the punch line to a sick joke, you can read it for yourself here: http://appropriations.house.gov/ and click on "Iraq Language."

Maybe Congressional Democrats are playing their version of "Gotcha" while they set up what they hope will be a Democratic White House in ’08. Maybe, giving them every benefit of the doubt, they figured this was the best they could get majority support for. In the final analysis it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’ve not yet thrown a big enough wrench into business as usual nor made the nation ungovernable until the war is ended. What matters is that many more people will be killed and maimed until we do.

MIKE FERNER is an Ohio writer. His book, "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq" is available on his website www.mikeferner.org