Empty heads and words in the Senate

Michael Barone:

Sometimes, it is useful to take politicians at their word. George W. Bush has announced he is sending an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq, to provide security in Baghdad and Al Anbar Province.
Gen. David Petraeus in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee said it's impossible to achieve that goal without additional troops. He also said, in response to a question from Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, that a congressional resolution disapproving of the additional troops would not have a positive effect on military morale.
We don't know whether this "surge" of troops to Iraq will achieve its goal, but we do know Gen. Petraeus is held in high regard. Armed Services voted unanimously to confirm him.
With that in mind, let's look at the decisive words in the resolution approved with a 12-to-9 majority by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and which seems sure to be approved by a majority of the Senate. "The primary objective of the United States strategy in Iraq," reads the resolution, "should be to have the Iraqi political leaders make the political compromises necessary to end the violence in Iraq." Compromises with whom? The al Qaeda forces? What compromises would satisfy them? With the Ba'athist Sunnis? Ditto. With Sunni and Shia militias? Maybe some would be satisfied by "political compromises." But some probably won't.
Sometimes, the only way to stop the bad guys is to capture or kill them or threaten credibly to do so. It's not a bad idea to pressure the Iraqi government to act against the sectarian killers -- there is evidence it already is doing so. But if they don't have enough military strength to stop the violence -- and no one says they do -- those efforts could be too little.
Here the resolution fudges. "The United States should transfer, under an appropriately expedited timeline, responsibility for internal security and halting sectarian violence in Iraq to the government of Iraq and Iraqi security forces." It also says it is "not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by increasing the United States military force presence in Iraq."
So we shouldn't fight any harder, and we shouldn't send in any more troops to accomplish something -- the restoration of order in Baghdad and Anbar -- that Gen. Petraeus says can't be accomplished without more troops and different tactics.
This seems to envision that we keep doing just what we've been doing until the Iraqi forces grow stronger -- the same course of action that these senators say has failed....
Or at least if others cooperate. The resolution states that "greater concerted regional and international support would assist the Iraqis in achieving a political solution and national reconciliation" and "the United States should engage nations in the Middle East to develop a regional, internationally sponsored peace and reconciliation process for Iraq."
Yes, it would and should. But it would and should also help the average porcine altitude if pigs could fly. Like the Iraq Study Group, the senators supporting the resolution express pious hopes that very unlikely things will happen, that the governments of Iran and Syria will nurture tranquility and democracy in Iraq, that the French or the United Nations will come up with a recipe for Iraqi reconciliation that has somehow eluded us unsophisticated Americans. The pigs are up to 30,000 feet now.
So the upshot of the resolution is we should keep doing for some undetermined time pretty much what we've been doing, though it hasn't been working, and we should not do the different things Gen. Petraeus thinks have a chance -- he doesn't guarantee success -- of working.
There is more. Where does Joe Biden get the idea he is smart? That goes for the other 11 who voted for this nonsense. By applying logic to their words Barone exposes them for the emptiness they contain.

I think what happens sometimes in the Senate is that many of its members sound smarter than they are and convey an allusion of intelligence on issues. Then an "articulate" spokesman for a bad idea gathers a following and they produce something like this resolution. Sen. Levin may be persuasive when talking to other Senators but he is still fundamentally wrong as are Biden and the rest.


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