Today, the House begins consideration of the "slow-bleed" plan for defeat in Iraq that has been crafted by Rep. John Murtha and tucked into a $124 billion supplemental bill that includes money to fund the war. If Mr. Murtha, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership are successful in getting this bill enacted into law, it would jeopardize the ability of the approximately 150,000 American troops serving in Iraq to defend themselves. It also would effectively ensure that Iraq spirals into civil war and that terrorist insurgent and militia groups would prevail over the United States. A strong case also can be made that it contemplates micromanaging the war in ways that unconstitutionally encroach on the president's powers.
No one should be fooled by the fact that a few members on the far left of the House Democratic Caucus -- who oppose on principle any funding for the war -- will join with the overwhelming majority of House Republicans in voting against the bill. While in our view these fringe-left Democrats are foolhardy and irresponsible, they are at least at some level honest about their belief that victory is impossible and that it is time to abandon Iraq. But the bill being considered today is permeated by intellectual dishonesty.
Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Murtha, et al. realize full well that ever since George McGovern lost 49 states to Richard Nixon in 1972 that the American public has come to distrust their judgment on national security because it perceives them to be "soft" on America's enemies. So, in the wake of November's elections in which the Democrats recaptured control of the House and Senate, they concocted a strategy that, if successful, would enable Democrats to make it impossible to conduct the war while giving themselves plenty of political cover when defeat inevitably occurred.
But managing a coalition that consists of left-wing ideologues who cannot abide even the pretense of trying to succeed in Iraq and Blue Dog Democrats who have to at least pretend to want victory is a difficult task. So, the legislation orders President Bush to meet a Murtha-concocted set of standards for unit readiness, length of deployment and time between deployments, and requires that U.S. forces be removed from Iraq by August 2008. In their more candid moments, Democratic leaders say openly that their plan will cripple the troops' ability to operate on the battlefield in Iraq. "They won't be able to do the deployment. They won't have the equipment, they don't have the training and they won't be able to do the work. There's no question in my mind," Mr. Murtha told a Web site run by anti-war groups last month.
And just a few weeks ago, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, when confronted outside his office by activists demanding an immediate cutoff of funds, blasted "idiot liberals" who failed to understand that "We're trying to use the supplemental to end the war. ... The language we have in the resolution ends the authority for the war [and] makes it illegal to proceed with the war."
No one should be under any illusions: The bill on the floor today has been crafted primarily to pave the way for an American military defeat in Iraq while giving the Democrats a fig leaf of deniability.
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