Wednesday, April 25, 2007

After lots of hard work getting the spin just right, a House-Senate conference committee has cobbled together a $124 billion war-funding bill for President Bush to veto. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made sure the bill, which is expected to pass the House and Senate today, included all of the pork and other essentials for Democratic Party constituencies. But when it came to the 150,000 U.S. troops now fighting in Iraq, lawmakers included enough poison-pill language to ensure a presidential veto — which will in turn delay much-needed support for military operations in Iraq.

The Iraq portions of the bill serve to illustrate why the Framers did not give the legislative branch primary authority to conduct foreign policy. Under the legislation, American troops will begin pulling out by July 1 if the elected Iraqi government fails to meet a series of congressional demands, which include reducing sectarian violence — meaning, in effect, that if al Qaeda wants to speed up an American troop pullout, it might want to bomb more Shi’ite mosques — guaranteeing that sectarian violence would worsen.

Other demands include enactment of a law to share oil revenue. Desirable as this is, it is irrelevant if security does not exist in Iraq, and the U.S. military remains the only thing standing in the way of a total collapse of the government. But the bill goes on to mandate that even if the Iraqis meet all of Washington’s demands, the troops will start to leave Iraq Oct. 1, with a goal of bringing most of them home by next April.

One might ask: What happens if the terrorist insurgents and militias haven’t decided to go out of business by that time? In Congress’s fantasy world, none of that matters. This legislation wasn’t put together with the goal of defeating jihadists on the battlefield. Quite the contrary: With Republican support negligible, it was crafted to ensure the broadest possible coalition of Democrats would vote for a surrender bill. To satisfy the types, particularly in the House, the bill starts the pullout as early as nine and a half weeks from now. In an effort to provide political cover for House “Blue Dogs” from more conservative districts who want to vote with Mrs. Pelosi, it contains troop-withdrawal language that sets a “goal” for pulling out rather than a deadline.

The Democrats’ lack of interest in the real-world impact of their legislation is reflected in their shabby treatment of the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus. Last week, House Democratic leaders initially declined Gen. Petraeus’ invitation to brief members, reversing themselves only after coming under fire from Republicans. In a CNN interview that aired Monday, Mr. Reid appeared to question whether Gen. Petraeus is being truthful when saying that success is achievable in Iraq. And by tying funding for the war to a surrender bill that the president will veto, the Democrats are showing studied contempt for our troops in the field.

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