- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2007

Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday called on the Democratic-controlled Congress to approve emergency war funding — legislation they will begin work on this week — that would pay for a surge of almost 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Anyone can say they support the troops and we should take them at their word, but the proof will come when it’s time to provide the money,” Mr. Cheney said during a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Mr. Cheney said Congress is “undermining” U.S. troops when lawmakers “pursue an anti-war strategy that’s been called ‘slow bleed,’ ” prompting applause from the crowd of about 6,000 at the Washington Convention Center.

The office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, fired back that Mr. Cheney was “spouting overblown and overheated rhetoric directed toward the critics of his administration’s failed Iraq policy.”

While none of the 2008 White House hopefuls spoke at the AIPAC conference, several hosted receptions last night to schmooze with Jewish voters — and potential donors — following a gala dinner. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, held a dessert event and Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, planned a soiree for the same hour.

The other candidates with formal receptions are Sens. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, and Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat.

Debate in Congress over how to handle the president’s roughly $95 billion supplemental request has splintered Democrats, revealing differences between the anti-war left wing of the party and congressional Democratic leaders.

President Bush in January announced a surge of 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq, and last week approved 4,600 more troops to Iraq and another 3,500 to Afghanistan.

Anti-war lawmakers and advocacy groups have agitated for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, but Democratic leaders have said they would not cut off funding for U.S. troops already in combat.

Tensions between staunch anti-war activists and Democratic leaders were exposed last week when Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat, was caught on video berating the mother of an Iraq war veteran who asked him to vote against the upcoming supplemental.

Mr. Obey, who voted against authorizing the war in 2002, yelled at the woman, Tina Richards, “We’re trying to use the supplemental to end the war … it’s time these idiot liberals understand that.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, is hoping to pass a supplemental budget that adds roughly $20 billion to the president’s request but also sets a deadline of no later than the fall of 2008 for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

Mr. Bush has threatened to veto such a deadline.

Mr. Cheney yesterday told the AIPAC audience that “when members speak not of victory but of time limits, deadlines and other arbitrary measures, they are telling the enemy simply to watch the clock and wait us out.”

Mr. Cheney’s speech sought to discredit what he called “myths” about the Iraq war.

The “most common myth,” Mr. Cheney said, is that the Iraq war is simply a civil war, unrelated to the U.S. global war on terrorism. “We hear this over and over again, not as an argument, but as an assertion meant to close off all argument,” he said.

He said such assertions ignore the words of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who has said if al Qaeda drives the United States from Iraq, “it means your defeat and disgrace forever.”

The second myth, Mr. Cheney said, is that “one can support the troops without giving them the tools and reinforcements needed to carry out their mission.”

The third and fourth myths, he said, are that “precipitous withdrawal” would strengthen America’s hand in the war on terrorism, and would not have any serious consequences for the broader Middle East, and Israel.

Mr. Cheney linked the United States and Israel together as “prime targets of a terror movement that is global in nature and, yes, global in its ambitions.”

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

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