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Thursday, September 28, 2006


will Democrats defund the war?

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, September 28, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
Some have suggested that if the Democrats take power in November, they will move to cut off funding for the war. The basic argument is that Charlie Rangel will take over the House Ways and Means Committee and then turn off the spigot for war appropriations. For example, RedState quotes Rangel via Bloomberg:

[H]e "cannot think of one" of President George W. Bush's first-term tax cuts that merit renewal. He also said no discussion would be possible on overhauling Social Security until Bush dropped a plan to create individual accounts funded by payroll taxes.

"If they want to get that on the agenda, they better take privatization off the table," Rangel, 76, an 18-term New York lawmaker, said in an interview. "Trade will be easy to work out some agreement, and we can probably do some minor things with the tax code."

In other words, Rangel will seek to repeal the Bush tax cuts - increasing funding to the federal government, so that we can actually spend money for the war on terror, not borrow money for the war on terror. Yet how does RedState interpret the quote above?

if the Democrats take back the Congress... they'll defund not just Iraq, but the global war on terror.

This is not just partisan hack talking point rhetoric, but the official position of the White House itself:

Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."

These are shameful smears of the Democrats' position. Rather than face the actual proposed policies of the Democrats, which are certainly open to debate if considered honestly, the Administration invokes the strawmen that the Democrats want to block money for the war, and want to "appease" terrosist to get them to "leave us alone." That portrayal of the Democrats' position is total nonsense and as the WaPo points out, completely unsupported by any factual basis:

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone. But White House and Republican officials said those are logical interpretations of the most common Democratic position favoring a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Logical interpretation? As Ezra Klein snarks, "I'm looking forward to the next press conference, when Rummy drags out a chalkboard and treats the American people to an ontological primer so we're better equipped to follow future speeches."

Look, the reason Democrats support a timetable for withdrawal is because they argue that our presence in Iraq is actually helping the terrorists more than it hurts them. The recently-released NIE certainly provides evidence to support this view. By withdrawing, the argument goes, we remove the cause celebre for the instability of foreign jihadis flooding Iraq - who have a disproportionate contribution to the worsening security situation there. No less than General Abizaid himself has acknowledged that the number of foreign jihadis in Iraq is increasing with time (contradicting the Administration's claims). And it also is worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want US troops to leave Iraq as well. And an even greater majority believe that the US won't leave even if asked!

Now I for one am still unsure whether a timetable-driven withdrawal is better or not than keeping most of our forces in the theater and changing their strategy. Even if I favored a timetable I'd still think that we would need a sizable contingent of response forces available. If we sent half the troops home and the other half to Afghanistan it might be better in the long run for winning the war.

Still, the point remains that the argument for a timetable withdrawal is based firmly in Iraqi security concerns and a genuine and sincere desire to win the war. Not let it continue to fail. Interpreting the Democrats' position as defunding and running is not logical, its mendacious. I'll even go so far as to say it falls outside the boundary of spin and firmly into the realm of a lie.

Let's have the debate about the merits of timetable withdrawal or not. RedState and the Administration don't want that debate. Why? Are they so unsure of the merits of their own position that they feel it won't withstand scrutiny?


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.