Monday, February 26, 2007

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday denounced the Iraq war resolutions being planned by congressional Democrats as “the worst of micromanagement” that would intrude on the president’s power as commander in chief to manage the war.

But Senate Democrats may not be able to force the issue. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan said his party does “not yet” have 60 votes needed to defeat an expected Republican filibuster of a vote reversing the 2002 Iraq war resolution. “We hope to pick up some Republicans. We don’t know if we will,” he said.

Miss Rice strongly criticized the Democrats’ plans, some of which would also restrict what actions U.S. troops may take or put impossible conditions on their funding.

“I think policies that diminish the flexibility of the commanders, the commander in chief, but especially the commanders in the field, that disrupt the normal process of allowing the executive branch to determine things like training times and so forth, this would be a problem,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”

She said that while “it’s very important for to have the oversight role when it comes to the execution of policy in the field, there has to be a clear relationship between the commander in chief and the commanders in the field.”

“If you ever disrupt that chain, then you’re going to have the worst of micromanagement of military affairs, and it’s always served us badly in the past,” Miss Rice said.

Mr. Levin said Democrats still plan to bring forward a resolution that reverses the congressional authorization for President Bush to invade Iraq. Democrats have said they would approve a new resolution limiting the scope of Mr. Bush’s ability to wage war in Iraq, with an aim to bring home most U.S. forces from the country by March 2008.

“Hopefully, we’re going to come with a resolution which is going to modify, in effect, the previous resolution that was very broad,” Mr. Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We don’t believe it is going to be possible to remove all of the troops.”

The draft version, supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, would restrict U.S. troops to fighting al Qaeda terrorists, training the Iraqi security forces and maintaining Iraq’s borders. The approach backed by many House Democrats, led by Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, would only fund U.S. forces in Iraq under onerous conditions that Mr. Murtha has said the Pentagon could not meet.

ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Miss Rice whether she would recommend that Mr. Bush veto any bills to require forces to leave Iraq. She said that decision was up to the president.

When Miss Rice was asked on “Fox News Sunday” by host Chris Wallace whether Mr. Bush would “feel bound” by legislation calling for the end of the U.S. combat role, the secretary of state responded: “The president is going to, as commander in chief, need to do what the country needs done.”

Mr. Levin declined to say how many American troops should remain if the Democrats’ plan to withdraw forces from Iraq passes. However, he was more direct when asked what would happen if Mr. Bush simply ignores any new congressional resolution.

“Well, then we have a constitutional battle on our hands because this is a binding resolution,” he said. “It would be very difficult, I think, for him to sustain that position given the fact that he has relied so heavily on our resolution authorizing him to go to war in the first place.”

Several Republicans, including some who have turned against the war, have challenged Democrats to vote on a bill that would cut off funding for the war.

“The truth of the matter is there’s really only, you know, one way to end the war, if that’s what our Democratic friends want to do. That is to cut off the funding for the war,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, during a meeting with reporters on Friday.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who now supports a timetable for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, echoed Mr. McConnell’s statement during an appearance yesterday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“They should cut the funding or let the president do what he needs to do, because to micromanage a war is the worst thing,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican. “It’s the ingredient for a loss.”

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