Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Little good comes when Congress grabs control of American foreign policy and war-fighting strategies from the hands of a scandal-weakened White House. Of course, it is always possible that there are 51 forward-leaning, shrewd, patriotic, non-partisan senators assembled to make the tough, unpopular call to push on for victory, no matter how hard and long the struggle. (Giggle.) But it is vastly more likely that less noble instincts beat in the breasts of the several senators assembled.

Monday, for the first time, the foul odor of the Vietnam War denouement wafted through the Senate chamber during the debate on Iraq. The Democrats called for “estimated dates for the phased redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq.” Phased redeployment was the maneuver the French executed in June 1940 in the days preceding the German occupation of Paris. Phased redeployment is what the Vietnamese boat people did as they swam for their lives away from their homeland.

The Republican Senate leadership, sensing they might lose enough Republican senators (six or more) to let the Democratic amendment pass, decided to quibble with, rather than oppose, the infamous document.

So they scratched out the explicit timeline to desertion and added fine-sounding phrases, such as calling for the president to provide more information and a schedule for reaching full Iraqi sovereignty.

No bureaucratic euphemism can cleanse the air of the stench of defeatism.

To figure out where this is all leading, look to the intents of the moving parties, not merely the malleable words being used by them. The Democratic senators, who are the vital, winning force in the Senate on this matter, are opposed to the Iraq war for either principled or unprincipled reasons — depending on the senator. Some, probably many, simply want to humiliate President Bush by denying him success — and then reap the electoral bonanza that will likely follow. I’m sure there are some senators who sincerely believe retreat and defeat is in the best interest of our country. But principled or unprincipled, their objective is the same: Getting out of Iraq is more important to them than staying and succeeding.

The Republican senators either no longer believe in the mission or fear an unhappy electorate more than they fear the consequences of failure in Iraq. In all events whether disillusioned or cynical or principled, whether Republican or Democratic, the majority of senators who are pushing for this want to get us out of Iraq more than they want us to succeed. Pay no attention to the words. Look to the character of the players. The infamous summer soldiers and sunshine patriots are forming a majority on the floor of the Senate — and national defeat and disgrace may soon, and again, find its moment.

It was 30 years ago when Congress last took the reigns of national war fighting. In August 1974, Richard Nixon had been scandalized and left office. The November 1974 election brought forth the “Watergate babies”; Congress filled with young anti-war Democrats. One of the first actions of the Watergate Congress was to vote to deny an appropriation of $800 million to pay for South Vietnamese military aid, including ammunition and spare parts. Historical records now reveal that five weeks after that vote, the North Vietnamese started planning their final offensive.

The morale of the South Vietnamese was broken by that symbolic congressional act of betrayal. The actual dollar cuts forced South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to abandon the Central Highland in March 1975, leading to the collapse of our ally and the onset of genocide and police-state brutalities that killed more Asians than all the thousand days of the war did.

Now the Watergate babies have grown old — and age has not improved them. They plan to finish their careers as they started them — in defeatism, betrayal and national dishonor. Oh, that America might see the last of these fish-eyed sacks of loathsome bile and infamy: unwholesome in their birth; repugnant and stench-forming in their decline.

Now another Republican president has grown weak and struggles to hold on to his war-making powers. I am heartened that President Bush is finally fighting back. He should veto any bill that would grant Congress even a syllable of war-fighting strategy. Mr. President, don’t believe a word of their legislative prose. They have defeat in their hearts, and they mean you ill. Stand and fight with veto pen and executive order in hand. Rally with defiant words those of us who would yet be your honored supporters. Let the long-suffering people of Iraq know that you will fight furiously for their redemption, and will be deaf to the impleadings of the weak and defeatist here in America.

Two national betrayals in 30 years is too much for the heart of the nation to take. Send more troops, not less. Victory may yet be ours.

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