Iraq: Moment of Truth
Iraq: Moment of Truth
The Congressional Research Service reported on Monday that the "average monthly cost of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been clocked at $12 billion."
|July 10, 2007||by Faiz Shakir, Nico Pitney, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, and Matt Corley
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Moment of Truth
The Congressional Research Service reported on Monday that the “average monthly cost of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been clocked at $12 billion.” Iraq alone has cost American taxpayers approximately $450 billion. In addition, Bloomberg reported yesterday, “Four thousand U.S. service members have died in President George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’ in Iraq and Afghanistan 5 1/2 years after American forces ousted the Taliban in December 2001.” As the costs of war continue to stack up, the Senate this week begins a debate to drawdown U.S. involvement in Iraq. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) will begin the debate by introducing a bipartisan amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that “requires active-duty troops to have at least the same amount of time at home as the length of their previous tour overseas.” In recent days, a number of conservative senators, including Richard Lugar (R-IN), George Voinovich (R-OH), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Judd Gregg (R-NH) — have offered rhetoric suggesting they are ready to break with Bush’s escalation policy in Iraq. Put on the defensive, the White House is reportedly in “panic mode,” concerned that the Republican discontent may be the “crack in the dike” that forces a long-overdue Iraq redeployment.
FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, IT’S JUST A GAME: The New York Times reported yesterday that White House officials were heatedly debating whether Bush “should try to prevent more defections” of war supporters by announcing a “gradual withdrawal” of U.S. troops. Calling it a “moment of truth for the President,” neoconservative pundit Bill Kristol “confirmed that there are real discussions going on at the White House, with advocates of what is being called ‘The Grand Bargain’ pushing hard for the president to move soon to announce plans to pull back in Iraq.” But rather than confirm that the White House is undertaking the kind of substantive debate about Iraq that is in the nation’s security interests, Press Secretary Tony Snow yesterday denied such discussions were ongoing. “There is no debate right now on withdrawing forces right now from Iraq,” Snow said. The Washington Post reports today that the White House is not talking about a true “strategic reset” in the Middle East, but instead, a “political strategy” to “shift [Bush’s] message.” According to the Post, the White House has “rejected calls to change course but will launch a campaign emphasizing his intent to draw down U.S. forces next year and move toward a more limited mission if security conditions improve.”
STATUS OF THE ESCALATION: Later this week, the Bush administration will deliver a congressionally-mandated assessment of the escalation in Iraq. The AP writes that the report will find the “Baghdad government has failed to meet any of its targets for political, economic and other types of progress.” “The facts are not in question,” one administration official told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The real question is how the White House proceeds with a post-surge strategy in light of the report.” “Opposition to the Iraq war has reached a record high.” Only 23 percent of Americans approve of Bush’s handling of Iraq, yet a host of escalation proponents are taking up the challenge of maintaining the status quo by distorting the facts. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on his return from Iraq, said the escalation is “working beyond my expectations.” “Whatever you can say about the current strategy, it has not failed,” said American Enterprise Institute pundit Fred Kagan. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) claimed we have the “enemy on the run.” But a recent Pentagon report found “the aggregate level of violence in Iraq remained relatively unchanged.” Violence had decreased in Baghdad and in Anbar Province, “but has increased in most provinces, particularly in outlying areas around Baghdad and in Nineva and Diyala provinces.”
SENATE DEBATES COURSE CHANGE: Webb’s amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), would “mandate that regular military units remain stationed at home for at least as long as their prior deployment in Iraq before being sent back. Reserve and Guard units would have to stay home for three years between deployments.” Webb said, “We’ve reached the point where we can no longer allow the ever-changing nature of this Administration’s operational policies to drive the way our troops are being deployed. In fact, the reverse is true. The availability of our troops should be the main determinant of how ground operations should be conducted.” After the Senate votes on the Webb amendment, it is expected to take up legislation to institute a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, including a measure sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI). The Levin-Reed bill has been gaining traction over the past year, winning over 31 senators last summer, but then garnering a majority (51 Senators) this past May. The legislation will call for the beginning of redeployment to occur 120 days after the bill’s enactment, with completion set for April 1, 2008. In an indication that the Levin-Reed bill will get even more votes this time around, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) said yesterday that she will support a binding timeline for troop withdrawals from Iraq.
“Hundreds of onlookers cheered this afternoon as the NAACP put to rest a long-standing expression of racism by holding a public burial for the N-word during its annual convention.”
PENNSYLVANIA: Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and the state legislature hammer out a budget deal, reopening the state government.
CALIFORNIA: “Over the next half-century, California’s population will explode by nearly 75 percent” to 60 million residents.
NEW YORK: At least 100 surveillance cameras will dot Lower Manhattan by the end of this year.
THINK PROGRESS: Karl Rove: “I make no apologies” for any of the Bush administrations mistakes or lies.
FOX ATTACKS: If Home Depot wants to be eco-friendly, as it says it does, it should stop advertising on Fox News.
WAR ROOM: Despite executive privilege claim, former White House aide will still appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
BELGRAVIA DISPATCH: The New York Times’s David Brooks contradicts himself on support for the Iraq Study Group.
“If you look at what Senator Lugar has said about the surge so far, he says it’s working. His comments indicate that he thinks it’s working.”
“In my judgment, the current surge strategy is not an effective means of protecting [U.S.] interests.”
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