Bush re­buke ad­vances in Se­nate; calls ‘surge’ a mis­take

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Charles Hurt

Se­nate Democrats on Jan. 24 re­buked Pres­i­dent Bush over his han­dling of the war in Iraq with a rare wartime vote con­demn­ing the com­man­der in chief’s plan to add troops to the bat­tle­field.

“Our res­o­lu­tion of dis­ap­proval is not—Iem­pha­sizenot—anat­tempt to em­bar­rass the pres­i­dent. It is not anat­tempt­todemon­strateiso­la­tion,” Se­nateFor­eignRe­la­tion­sCom­mit­tee Chair­man Joseph R. Bi­den Jr., DelawareDemo­crat,said­be­fore­his panel de­clared Mr. Bush’s pro­posal as “not in the na­tional in­ter­est.”

“It’s an at­tempt to save the pres­i­dent from mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant mis­take with re­gard to our pol­icy in Iraq,” Mr. Bi­den said.

Hours af­ter the 12-9 vote, which fell nearly along party lines, Sen. John W. Warner went to the Se­nate floor and of­fered his own amend­ment con­demn­ing Mr. Bush’s “surge” pro­posal. The Vir­ginia Repub­li­can said his non­bind­ing res­o­lu­tion is less po­lit­i­cally com­bat­ive than the Bi­den res­o­lu­tion and has the sup­port of three fel­low Repub­li­cans and six Democrats.

“We have put a greater em­pha­sis on urg­ing the pres­i­dent to con­sider other op­tions, given that we have a gen­erald­is­agree­men­twith­thev­ery sig­nif­i­cant level of troops that are specif­i­cally set forth in the pres­i­dent’s plan,” Mr. Warner said. The Warner pro­posal was of­fered as a sub­sti­tute for Mr. Bi­den’s.

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Ne­braska was the only one of the panel’s 10 Repub­li­cans to join all 11 Democrats in fa­vor of the non­bind­ing Bi­den res­o­lu­tion.

Mr. Hagel, Mr. Bi­den and three oth­er­com­mit­teemem­berssup­port­ingth­eres­o­lu­tion­werea­mongth­ose who voted on Oct. 11, 2002, to au­tho­rize the war in Iraq. The oth­ers were Sens. John Kerry of Mas­sachusetts, Christo­pher J. Dodd of Con­necti­cut and Bill Nelson of Florida, all Democrats.

“Most of our col­leagues un­der­stand this is a mis­take,” said Mr. Kerry, who as a sol­dier re­turned from Viet­nam to protest the war and tes­tify be­fore Congress about atroc­i­tiesh­e­said­w­ere­com­mit­tedby fel­low Amer­i­cans.

“I asked the ques­tion in 1971: How do you ask a man to be the last man­todieforamis­take?”he­saidon the Se­nate floor. “I never thought that I would be re­liv­ing the need to ask that ques­tion again. We are there.”

Sen. Richard G. Lu­gar, In­di­ana Repub­li­can, warned that the res­o­lu­tion could de­mor­al­ize the troops and em­bolden in­sur­gents in Iraq.

“Usu­ally, non­bind­ing res­o­lu­tions are de­signed to show unity on an is­sue­or­to­high­ligh­tanis­suethat­few mem­bers know about,” he told his col­leagues. “In this case, we are lay­ing open our dis­unity with­out the prospect­thattheve­hi­clewil­lachieve mean­ing­ful changes in our pol­icy. This vote will force noth­ing on the pres­i­dent, but it will con­firm to our friend­san­dal­li­esthatweare­di­vided and in dis­ar­ray.”

Mr. Hagel dis­agreed. “This is not a de­featist res­o­lu­tion,” he said. “This is not a cut-and-run res­o­lu­tion. We are not talk­ing about cut­ting off funds.”

Mr. Kerry was more re­signed. “We all want suc­cess,” he said, but “we can’t achieve the kind of clean and sim­ple vic­tory that the ad­min­is­tra­tion promised.”

Mr. Hagel, who is con­sid­er­ing a run­fortheWhiteHouse,wasa­mong the most vo­cif­er­ous crit­ics of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“There is no strat­egy,” he said. “This is a ping­pong game with Amer­i­can lives. Th­ese young men and women that we put in An­bar prov­ince,inIraq,in­Bagh­dadarenot beans. They’re real lives. And we bet­ter be damn sure we know what we’re do­ing, all of us, be­fore we put 22,000 more Amer­i­cans into that grinder.”

Sen. Bar­bara Boxer, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, said she was re­lieved to have voted against the war in 2002.

“IthankGodIvot­edthe­wayI­did: against it,” she said. “I thank God ev­erys­in­gle­timeIsig­nalet­ter­tothe fam­i­lies who have lost a loved one. An­dun­for­tu­nately,in­Cal­i­for­nia,we have lost the most.”

Democrats of­fered few specifics about how to pro­ceed. Mr. Kerry urged more diplo­macy, which he com­pared to rid­ing a bi­cy­cle.

“As long as you’re rid­ing, even if you’re­goin­garound­in­cir­cles,you’re OK. You don’t fall off,” he said, cit­ing an anal­ogy by for­mer Sec­re­tary ofS­tateMadeleineK.Al­bright.“But if you stop rid­ing, you fall off.”

Sen.JohnE.Su­nunu,NewHamp­shire Repub­li­can, echo­ing a word of­ten used on the sub­ject, warned against “mi­cro­manag­ing” the war.

Ear­lier this month on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Bi­den said, “I think it is un­con­sti­tu­tional to say, ‘We’re go­ing to tell you you can go, butwe’re­go­ing­tomi­cro­man­agethe war.’ ”

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