Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We Are Moving Backwards on Iraq

I rise today to express my disappointment both in the final version of the supplemental spending bill that we expect to consider today and in the process that led to this badly flawed bill. Those two concerns are linked, because the flawed procedure that the Senate adopted when we passed a sham supplemental bill last week without debate or amendments helped grease the wheels for a final bill that contains no binding language on redeployment. While our brave troops are stuck in the middle of a civil war in Iraq, we have a bill with political benchmarks that lack meaningful consequences if they are not reached.

Legislation as important as this funding bill should have been openly considered in this body. I am talking about an open and on the record debate, with amendments offered and voted upon. That’s the way the Senate is supposed to operate. I share the desire of my colleagues to pass this important bill as quickly as possible, but that was no excuse for us avoiding our responsibilities as legislators.

Unquestionably it was easier — and faster — for us to send a place-holder bill back to the House. By doing that, the real work could be done behind closed doors where all kinds of horse trading can occur and decisions are unknown until the final deal is sealed. That process makes it a lot easier for most members of Congress to avoid responsibility for the final outcome ­ we didn’t have to cast any votes or make any difficult decisions. In short, we didn’t have to do any actual legislating. And now that we face a badly flawed take-it-or-leave it bill, we can simply shrug and tell our constituents “Hey, we did the best we could.” Well, that’s not good enough ­ not when we are talking about the most pressing issue facing this country.

In the five months we’ve been in control of Congress, a unified Democratic caucus, with the help of some Republicans, has made great strides toward changing the course in Iraq. We were able to pass a supplemental bill supported by a majority of the Senate that required the phased redeployment of our troops to begin in 120 days. And last week, a majority of Democrats supported ending the current open-ended mission by March 31, 2008. It’s been almost one year since 13 Senators supported a proposal I offered with Senator Kerry that would have brought our troops out of Iraq by this summer. Now, 29 Senators support an even stronger measure, enforced by Congress’s power of the purse, to safely redeploy our troops.

Unfortunately, after that strong vote, we are moving backward. Instead of forcing the President to safely redeploy our troops, instead of coming up with a strategy providing assistance to a post-redeployment Iraq, and instead of a renewed focus on the global fight against al-Qaeda, we are faced with a spending bill that kicks the can down the road and buys the Administration time.

But why, I ask you, would we buy the Administration more time? Why should we wait any longer? Since the war began in March 2003, we have lost more than 3,420 Americans, with over 71 killed since the beginning of this month. Last month, we lost over one hundred Americans. Last weekend, the media reported that 24 bodies were found lying in the streets of Baghdad; all of whom had been killed execution style. 19 of them were found in parts of the city where U.S. troops have “surged.”

The Administration’s policy is clearly untenable. The American people know that, which is why they voted the way they did in November. They want us out of Iraq and they want us out now. They don’t want to give the so-called “surge” time. They don’t want to pass this problem off to another President, and another Congress. And they sure don’t want another American servicemember to die, or lose a limb, while elected representatives put their own political comfort over the wishes of their constituents.

It was bad enough to have the President again disregard the American people by escalating our involvement in Iraq. Now, too, Congress seems to be ignoring the will of the American people. If the American people cannot count on the leaders they elect to listen to them, and to act on their demands, then something is seriously wrong with our political institutions ­ or with the people who currently occupy those institutions. I urge my colleagues to reject the weak supplemental conference report, and to stand strong as we tell the Administration that it is time to end a war that is draining our resources, straining our military, and undermining our national security.

Russell Feingold is a US Senator from Wisconsin.

His remarks from the senate floor on the Iraq War Supplemental Funding bill can be viewed here.

 

 

More articles by:

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees.

May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail