House GOP Extremely Wary About Iraq Debate
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 01:31:26 PM EST
Arizona Congressman John Shadegg, the fifth-ranking official in the House Republican leadership, and Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member on the House intelligence panel, have penned a dear colleague letter to their fellow members of the GOP caucus on the issue of the Iraq War debate currently raging in the chamber. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer got a copy of the letter, which he has posted in .pdf form on his website. Among other things, the letter states:
We are writing to urge you not to debate the Democratic Iraq resolution on their terms, but rather on ours.
Democrats want to force us to focus on defending the surge, making the case that it will work and explaining why the President's new Iraq policy is different from prior efforts and therefore justified.
We urge you to instead broaden the debate to the threat posed to Americans, the world, and all "unbelievers" by radical Islamists. We would further urge you to join us in educating the American people about the views of radical Islamists and the consequences of not defeating radical Islam in Iraq.
The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be abou the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose. [emphasis added]
If the non-binding resolution in the House is a means of getting closer to bringing American troops home rather than being an end in an of itself, as Rep. Jerry Nadler has indicated and as I would tend to suspect, then I think it has a very good chance of being successful. Already, even before the chamber has voted -- and Republicans are already warning that at least 10 to 20 members of their caucus could vote with the Democrats on this measure -- it has already backed Republicans into a corner in which they cannot and are unwiling to defend the President's Iraq strategy.
To reiterate, if the ultimate goal of the Democrats is just to pass a non-binding resolution, Americans will see this move as a cynical ploy to score political points without actually achieve that which it should set out to. But if the goal is to end the war in Iraq, this debate will help move the ball down the field and, to an extent, already has by forcing Republicans to move away from their President's plan for Iraq.