Stalled Republicans are hurting our troops

By By Luke Hinz

By Luke Hinz

After a failure by Democrats to stop a filibuster on two crucial votes last week, they stated that their strategy would now focus on portraying Republicans as opposing any change to the war in Iraq. With the Republicans’ current track record, that should not be too difficult.

The Republicans managed, once again, to fend off even a simple debate on the war in Iraq. Democrats fell four votes short on both bills — one that would have given troops as much time at home as they had spent deployed overseas and another measure that would have reinstated the writ of habeas corpus for terrorist detainees.

The votes were not on the actual bills, but on whether Democrats could cut off debate by the Republicans and bring the bills to a vote. So, while the Republicans have been accusing the Democrats of stalling and doing nothing, it is the Republicans who would rather not even debate the issues. By giving into it, the Democrats are fulfilling the Republicans’ prophecy.

The Democrats should let the Republicans filibuster as long as possible to show Americans who is truly stalling the democratic process. Instead, the Democrats are letting the minority in Congress become the majority. While a minority voice is important in any government, this minority is defying the will of the American people, the same people they swore to represent.

As for the bills, Republicans have accused the Democrats of undermining the ability of troops in Iraq. If anything, the Republican Party, which has lengthened tours in Iraq from 12 to 15 months and will not give troops the same amount of time at home with families as time abroad, is the cause of any undermining that is taking place.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent who has often sided with the Republicans on Iraq, put the Republican Party’s outlook best regarding the vote: “It means that Congress will not intervene in the foreseeable future. The fact that it didn’t get enough votes says that Congress doesn’t have the votes to stop this strategy of success from going forward.”

I am sure the Democrats were as confused as I about what strategy the senator was referring to. Surely, it was not the surge strategy in Iraq, which has shown little progress.

Alas, that is exactly the strategy he was referring to. It is clear that the Republicans have no specific plan regarding Iraq and are simply waiting for Bush to exit office and pass his legacy of war on to the next president. Meanwhile, Bush boasts of success by stating that he will begin drawing troops out of Iraq. In truth, the President plans to withdraw a mere 5,700 troops from the 160,000 troops already serving there by December. When the reduction is complete next summer, the troop levels will be at 130,000 — equal to the pre-surge numbers. The numbers show that nothing is changing in Iraq, including our strategy.

So, while Congress (but mostly Republicans) sits on its thumbs and wait out a war, our troops are left to wallow in the dust and the dirt, much like terrorist detainees have been left to rot in Guantanamo Bay because of the lack of habeas corpus. As important as it is to combat terrorists abroad, Republicans have decided that it is more important than core American principles. The writ guarantees that a prisoner be tried for a committed crime, but Republicans believe that a terrorist’s mere presence in Gitmo is enough and have decided to let the detainees stay, regardless of whether they are true terrorists or not, and in turn have created a slippery slope for basic human rights. So, troops and terrorists alike wait and watch as Congress argues and the Republicans stall.

Yet, some Republicans are starting to feel the consequences of their actions. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, “The Republicans own this war. If it goes bad, the nation loses, and the Republican Party loses disproportionately compared to the Democratic Party.”

Perhaps, Sen. Graham has been looking at the wrong war. The war in Iraq has already gone bad as has the Republican Party.

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