Opposing Bush’s War Escalation
Wednesday - January 17, 2007
Last Thursday’s headline on the Honolulu Star-Bulletin cover read “21,500 more.” It referred, of course, to President George W. Bush’s plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq to join the 132,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines already there.
Hawaii’s four-person congressional delegation, all Democrats, condemned Bush’s escalation of the Iraq war. Responding to Bush’s speech in the Bulletin, newly elected 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono said, “I would have liked the president to redeploy and push for the Iraqi people to achieve their own sovereignty using the full extent of diplomatic sources.”
Hirono’s 1st District colleague, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, went a step further, saying that “it is the presence of American troops that causes the violence because we are an occupying force.”
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye warned that dispatching more troops to Iraq “would only exacerbate a bad situation, and could signal the possible permanency of this conflict.”
Said Daniel Akaka, recently sworn in to his third full term in the Senate: “This is a war that we should never have gotten into, and I oppose putting more American lives in jeopardy.”
Akaka, Inouye and Abercrombie were all in Congress in 2002 when the vote to authorize Bush to invade Iraq was taken. All three voted against authorization; and all three have remained critical of the war since U.S. troops entered Iraq in the spring of 2003.
In 2002, Akaka and Inouye were two of only 23 Democrats who opposed the authorization resolution. And Abercrombie was in the minority made up almost exclusively of Democrats in the 296-133 House vote to unleash Bush and his neoconservative advisers for their bloody Iraq adventure.
But in January 2007 these representatives of a very Democratic state are certainly not the only members of Congress opposing Bush’s proposal to send 21,500 troops to Iraq. Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, the second-ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, has called Bush’s plan “Alice in Wonderland,” and says that he is “absolutely opposed to sending more troops. It’s folly.”
Republican Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon and Norm Coleman of Minnesota, both up for re-election in 2008, have come out in opposition to the Bush’s proposal. So too have Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine.
Syndicated conservative columnist Robert Novak estimates that no more than a dozen of the 49 Republicans in the Senate are likely to support Bush’s escalation.
Why? Because they can read. They’ve read the results of the November elections in which Democrats seized control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, winning seats in the latter from normally Republican states like Virginia and Nebraska. They’ve read the public opinion polls that show that 70 percent of the American people oppose sending additional troops to Iraq.
They’ve read the findings of the Iraq Study Group that called for a phased withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and the opening of talks with Syria and Iran, the latter two proposals notably absent from Bush’s new war plans.
They’ve read the testimony and press reports of the generals on the ground in Iraq, almost all of whom oppose sending more troops to Iraq and who argue that the nation’s military forces are already stretched to the breaking point.
And of course they’ve read the tales of carnage in Iraq on the front pages of our newspapers, day after day after day.
So Republican office-holders are joining the chorus of opposition to sending more young American men and women into the Iraq killing zone - Republican office-holders in the other 49 states, that is. Hawaii’s Republicans have been strangely silent on Bush’s proposal, aside from U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Thielen’s call last fall for the firing of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Their silence implies acquiescence to one of the worst foreign policy debacles in modern American history.
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