Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Glimpse Into an Anti-War Strategy Session

For months it appeared that September would produce a great confrontation between the President and leaders in Congress, over the nation's future policy in Iraq. But as The Surge has seemingly produced results, it has become plain that the President retains enough supporters to continue the policy, with the modifications he believes appropriate.

For that reason it's interesting to read the transcript of a late August conference call among anti-war leaders. These activists are developing a game plan with the help of House anti-war leaders Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Jim Moran (D-VA). It's fascinating to read, to get a sense of how they view this fight.

Neither Woolsey nor Moran gives an accurate and honest assessment of the effort to end the war -- though Moran probably comes much closer. There are only a few ways to force a withdrawal from Iraq if the President refuses to do so. The first is to assemble a veto-proof majority in both Houses to force a withdrawal. Neither Woolsey nor Moran is eager to acknowledge that when the House passed legislation to fund the war without restriction, they lost their last best chance to end it.

But neither is really that simple. If Speaker Pelosi refused to bring up funding legislation, it's conceivable that a bipartisan House majority could come together to force her to. And in the Senate, a funding measure could be attached as an amendment to other legislation. So it's not clear that Congressional Democrats have the tools to block a bipartisan majority from continuing the war.

In any case, the particulars of the parliamentary questions are moot; Pelosi and Reid have so far been unwilling to risk the political damage of being seen to deny funds for the troops. And all rhetoric aside, it seems they're unwilling to change that strategy now.

So when Moran tells the participants on the call that the future in Iraq will be decided in the 2008 Presidential election, he's probably right. But it looks like the war may end with a whimper rather than a bang, since the White House will clearly be recommending a drawdown of troops. If the American people become convinced that the Surge is working and that our presence in Iraq is not permanent, is the war in Iraq really likely to be a decisive question in the race for the Presidency?

Hat Tip: The Politico

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