- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2007

Sen. John McCain yesterday said his colleagues who support a nonbinding resolution opposing a troop surge in Iraq are “intellectually dishonest,” an apparent bid to rally Republican opposition to the resolution, which could have its first test vote today.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that you disapprove of a mission and you don’t want to fund it and you don’t want it to go, but yet you don’t take the action necessary to prevent it,” the Arizona Republican said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “In other words, this is a vote of no confidence in both the mission and the troops who are going over there.”

Most polls show Mr. McCain in a statistical tie with former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for the lead in the 2008 Republican presidential primary. The Democratic National Committee has issued several press releases targeting Mr. McCain for his support of a troop surge.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, was asked on “This Week” about Mr. McCain’s charge of intellectual dishonesty. “I don’t agree with that,” he said.

Both Vietnam combat veterans, Mr. Hagel and Mr. McCain said they remain close friends despite their political differences on Iraq.

“What this resolution is about is, first, disagreeing with the president’s position on increasing our military involvement in Iraq,” said Mr. Hagel, who is considering his own presidential campaign. “The other thing about it is this is not a cut-and-run resolution. This is not a withdrawal resolution. This is not a resolution that talks about timelines.”

The Senate is scheduled for a test vote today on the nonbinding resolution by Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, and Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat. It contains a provision that pledges to protect money for combat troops.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, warned Republicans yesterday that any efforts to block a vote on the resolution would be “obstructionism.”

“If we can’t get this done, you can be sure a month or so down the pike there’s going to be much stronger legislation,” she said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said critics of the troop increase were not being honest about its significance.

“[Lieutenant General David] Petraeus’ plan is not more people doing the same. And if anybody says that, they’re not listening to General Petraeus,” Mr. Graham told “Fox News Sunday.” The surge of 21,500 troops “would double the combat capability of the American military to hold areas cleared.”

Despite his vocal support for the strategy, Mr. McCain acknowledged he has doubts.

“I’m worried. I’m also worried about the [Iraqi] government’s ability to really do what we want,” he said.

“They’ve been showing a lot of weakness in the past. I’m worried that this is not enough troops. But I looked General Petraeus in the eye and I said, ‘Do you have enough troops?’ He said, ‘If I think I need more, I’ll ask for them.’ And he also said if he thought the mission was going to fail, he would tell the president and us.”

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