- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman said yesterday that President Bush’s Iraq policy is “emboldening the enemy,” rebutting critics who insist that resolutions denouncing the president’s troop surge hurt the morale of U.S. forces.

“It’s not the American people or the United States Congress who are emboldening the enemy. It’s the failed policy of this president,” said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat.

“Going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely, going to war without enough troops, going to war without enough equipment and lastly now sending 17,500 people in the middle of a city of 6.5 million people with bull’s-eyes on their back with no plan. There is no plan,” Mr. Biden said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, echoed Mr. Biden.

“I don’t see this enemy as needing any more emboldening or getting it from any resolution. They’re emboldened now,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

Both men are seeking their parties’ 2008 presidential nominations.

When the conservative Mr. Brownback was asked how he would handle the situation as president, he said, “I think if the president would reach out to the Democratic leadership and ask them not what are you opposed to, but what are you for, we can start coming together. I thought that was the whole purpose of [the Iraq Study Group].”

Other Republicans on the Sunday talk shows expressed support for a troop surge and opposition to the nonbinding resolutions, one of which was co-authored by Mr. Biden and passed last week by his committee.

Mr. Bush and Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the incoming U.S. military commander in Iraq, have said that passing such a resolution would demoralize U.S. troops. Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and several other senators agreed.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the nonbinding resolution is the wrong idea.

“Essentially, this resolution, others that are being offered, are an opportunity for people to vent their emotions, their thoughts, get it on record,” he said during an appearance on “This Week.” “Some Republicans want to do that. Some Democrats want to do that. I don’t believe that it’s helpful right now to show there’s disarray around the world as well as in our body at home.”

Sen. James H. Webb Jr., the Virginian who delivered the Democratic response to Mr. Bush’s State of the Union address last week, rejected the notion that his party is trying to block the president’s Iraq strategy.

“We’re not opposed to the president’s plan. What I object to is the fact that there isn’t a plan,” he said during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “This is almost just like a tipping point for a lot of people who are basically saying you cannot continue to give the administration a free hand in the manipulation of troop numbers without a clear endpoint to a strategy.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said he would try to persuade his Republican colleagues to vote against a resolution opposing the troop surge.

“I think I can pretty well speak for virtually all Republican senators when I say this is the last chance for the Iraqis to step up and do their part,” Mr. McConnell said on “Face the Nation.” “If you don’t have a relatively calm capital city, there’s no chance the government can function properly. So this is their last chance.”

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