House GOP Extremely Wary About Iraq Debate

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.

Tags: 110th congress, Escalation, Iraq (all tags)

Comments

6 Comments

Re: House GOP Extremely Wary About Iraq Debate

Lets also not forget that prior to the invasion and occupation, radical islam was pretty much non-existent in Iraq.  And now, its just one of a number of different ideologies guiding the various sects of shia'a, sunni, and kurd.  

by JJCPA 2007-02-13 01:44PM | 0 recs
The Wild Card

The wild card in the withdrawal debate is the Democratic presidential primary.  Obama got a substantial bump in the polls when he announced his withdrawal plan, gaining a solid 10% on Hillary.  I suspect it was just the beginning, as the candidates find that Democratic primary voters are a lot more like Daily Kos readers than AIPAC members.  Obama and Hillary are already fighting over their anti-Iraq positions:

http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com/blog/ electioncentral/2007/feb/13/hillary_obam a_trade_blows_over_iraq

The pressure on Obama, Hillary and Edwards to talk withdrawal in the coming weeks is going to be huge.  The price for maintaining a "moderate" position on the war is going to be immense.  And Democratic voters are going to sour on all these "symbolic" votes awfully quickly.  The senate as a whole might want to stall the withdrawal debate, but the candidates are going to feel tremendous pressure to outflank each other in pursuit of the Democratic base.  They will put pressure on the entire Democratic senate to take action...

Yes, even Hillary will veer left on the war.  She will have no choice.  Winning will require it.

by owenz 2007-02-13 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: House GOP Extremely Wary About Iraq Debate

The real issue is to get an anti-Iraq bill, binding or not, through the House and back into the Senate with enough momentum to get the 60 votes needed for cloture.  Then follow this path with more binding legislation, hopefully something along the lines of Obama's S.433 which actually has some legal teeth on withdrawal.

I don't believe defunding is the way to go and a compromise on this point with the GOP costs nothing but might gain some legislative support from waverers.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-13 02:27PM | 0 recs
effect on Republican senators

I agree. The House already has the votes to bring the troops home. Bush's last firewall is in the Senate. If Republican House members desert Bush in significant numbers, this is going to concentrate the minds of the Republican senators on the ballot in 2008 on whether they want to die politically for a lame duck with 30% approval.

by berith 2007-02-14 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: effect on Republican senators

Exactly, we make it as hard as possible for them to weasel out of the proposal on technical or irrelevant grounds.  I like Obama's bill because it restates the ISG and Bush administration wishful thinking and uses their own rhetorical, and unrealistic, positioning as justification for mandated withdrawal.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-02-14 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: To sum up

To sum up the Republican position, the debate on Iraq shouldn't be about Iraq.  To hell with the country and the troops serving our country.  Let's create a political strategy that doesn't make us look like the losers that we are.  Nothing else matters.  

by gunnar 2007-02-13 03:41PM | 0 recs

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