- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2007

After yesterday’s all-night Iraq war “defeatathon,” as radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham described it, House and Senate Democrats continue to illustrate why Americans so distrust them when it comes to national security. Antiwar lawmakers have been losing momentum of late, to such an extent that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and representatives of liberal humanitarian organizations like the International Crisis Group found it necessary to warn that a precipitous troop withdrawal could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe for Iraqis. So yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid staged an overnight session where senators debated abandoning Iraq. Mr. Reid came up eight votes short in his effort to obtain cloture on an amendment to the defense authorization bill offered by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and Sen. Jack Reed, which decreed that the secretary of defense shall “commence the reduction of the number of United States forces in Iraq not later than 120 days after the enactment of this act.”

After the amendment (the specifics of which Mr. Levin had difficulty explaining to reporters) went down to defeat, Mr. Reid petulantly pulled the defense bill from the floor. The failure to pass this bill means there will be no funding for modernization of soldiers’ equipment, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected trucks for soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan; a 3.5 percent raise for American men and women in the military; and funding to assist wounded veterans. Perhaps it’s not the best way for Mr. Reid and Co. to illustrate how Democrats “support the troops.”

Mr. Levin didn’t exactly help the Democratic cause when he tried to brush off reporters’ questions about how his own amendment would affect our ability to conduct anti-terror operations inside Iraq. When asked how many troops would be needed to conduct “targeted” operations, Mr. Levin protested that he didn’t want to get into such a discussion and that doing so would be changing the subject. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rightly made the point that Mr. Levin’s lawyerly evasions were unacceptable: “Isn’t that what this whole debate is about? Don’t we have a right to know how many troops the senior senator from Michigan thinks are necessary to achieve our goals? To prevent the mayhem our top commanders have warned would be the result of a precipitous withdrawal? The most important questions are left unanswered. All we have are vague assertions that no one, not even the sponsor of this amendment, has attempted to explain with any measure of clarity.”

But, if anything, Mr. Levin appeared positively statesmanlike when compared to House Democrats who seem blithely unconcerned about the likelihood of a bloodbath after American forces are withdrawn from Iraq. Said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey: “The only hope for the Iraqis is their own damned government, and there’s slim hope for that.” A leader of the 70-member Out of Iraq Caucus, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, said her group “has not looked beyond ending military involvement.” All of this serves to illustrate how cavalierly Democrats treat the welfare of American troops and the likelihood of humanitarian catastrophe for the Iraqi people if they are removed.