Senators Biden and Levin invite us to pick our poison
The devil is in the details
By AcademicElephant Posted in War — Comments (15) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Offered as a postscript to streiff's earlier post
Yesterday was an interesting day for senate dynamics. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) tossed a loaded gun onto the floor of the august chamber when he suggested in an interview that he would seriously contemplate switching parties (or rather changing his caucus, since I don't really see Mr. Lieberman becoming a Republican, just a R-aligned I) if his current colleagues made him "uncomfortable." As the day wore on, the source of Mr. Lieberman's potential discomfiture revealed itself. Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Carl Levin (D-MI) are crafting legislation designed to restrict the President's ability to set military strategy in Iraq. These two congressional geniuses are cooking up language designed to appear reasonable to the electorate and they're proposing the President should be limited to 1) fighting al Qaida in Iraq, 2) training Iraqi security forces and 3) "maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity." Combat troops engaged in other activities should be recalled over the next year.
On the surface, the plan is appealing for, after all, who among us would oppose such a plan? And wouldn't we be protecting our troops from engaging in other dangerous activites? But there's a rub here. How precisely will these parameters be defined? And who will define them? General Petraeus and Admiral Fallon? Or Mr. Biden and Mr. Levin? And how will they be enforced? Should our soldiers be punished if they attack a suspected terrorist safe house/bomb-making facility/weapons cache if it is not demonstrably related to al Qaida (i.e. how much proof do you need that a bad guy is al Qaida? Does mere suspiscion, as in this case, count? Or would this sort of thing be judged by Mr. Biden and Mr. Levin as inappropriate action for US troops?)? Should they be prevented from participating in reconstruction efforts not related to the ISF? And what exactly does "maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity" mean? Border security alone? Will Mr. Biden and Mr. Levin limit this to defensive action? Will our forces find themselves in a position where they are so hamstrung by these nebulous rules that they become a passive and inactive--and so vulnerable--target for the enemy that is not under any such restrictions?
There's another nasty little aspect to the Biden-Levin plan: this will not be stand-alone legislation. It will be an amendment to a homeland security bill that will come before the Senate next week, so voting against it will mean voting against counter-terrorism measures. Perhaps it should not surprise us that Mr. Biden and Mr. Levin seek a win-win for their side here--either you hand the terrorists a victory in Iraq by undermining our effort there, or you hand the terrorists a victory in the US by undermining our efforts here.
Did I say "win-win"? Perhaps "lose-lose" would be a more appropriate phrase. "Pick your poison" might be an even better selection, as the choices proposed by the anti-war Democrats all look pretty deadly to me.