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Bipartisan support grows for Iraq war
Senate unanimously approves $100 billion for occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan
 
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 70/No. 25July 10, 2006

 

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(lead article)
Bipartisan support grows for Iraq war
Senate unanimously approves $100 billion
for occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan
 
Reuters/Bob Strong
U.S. and Iraqi troops carry out joint “knock and search” mission near Tikrit, Iraq. Large majorities in U.S. Senate rejected proposals to “redeploy” some of the U.S. troops.

BY PAUL PEDERSON  
On June 22 the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a military spending bill of $509 billion, which includes more than $100 billion to finance the U.S.-led occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of 2007.

The same day, the Senate also rejected by clear bipartisan majorities two amendments suggesting a timetable for beginning “redeployment” of some of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

Widespread media reports on the debate falsely presented it as a split between the Democratic and Republican parties. Instead the votes reflected broad agreement in both parties on Washington’s course in Iraq and the broader imperialist military offensive being prosecuted in the name of fighting the “war on terror.”

The amendment presented by Massachusetts senator John Kerry called for redeployment of some U.S. forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007—“leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces, conducting targeted and specialized counterterrorism operations, and protecting United States facilities and personnel.”

The Kerry amendment failed by a vote of 86 to 13, with all Republicans and 31 of the Senate’s 44 Democrats voting no.

The second proposed amendment, offered by Wisconsin senator Carl Levin, was more vague. Levin offered a non-binding “sense of the Congress” proposal saying Washington should “expedite the transition of United States forces in Iraq to a limited presence” without setting a deadline. It failed by a vote of 60 to 39, with six Democrats siding with most Republicans to defeat it.

Neither amendment specified the size of the “limited presence” of troops that would remain, but both stressed that it had to be large enough to fight the “war on terror” and “stand up Iraqi security forces” while defending U.S. installations and personnel.

Speaking against the Kerry amendment, New York senator Hillary Clinton said she does not “believe it is a solution or a strategy to set a date certain for withdrawal.”

Sen. Russell Feingold, a co-sponsor of the Kerry amendment, noted that the measure was not proposed based on a principled opposition to use of U.S. military might abroad.

“All of us in this Chamberů supported the appropriate action to invade Afghanistan,” Feingold said. “I voted against the Iraq war because it appeared obvious to me that was not the wise next strategic move in the fight against al-Qaeda,” he said, adding that Somalia and Indonesia are more appropriate targets.

Kerry also said the ongoing occupation of Iraq weakens Washington’s ability to threaten Iran. Washington, along with its imperialist allies in Europe, has been threatening military strikes against Tehran if it does not give up its right to produce enriched uranium—a necessary fuel for nuclear power and a component in nuclear weapons.

“For three-and-a half years we sat on the sidelines and allowed Iran to become more of a problem,” Kerry said. “Is that winning the war on terror?” The former Democratic presidential nominee said, “Iran loves the fact that we are bogged down in Iraq.”

The major big business dailies—from the New York Times to the Washington Post—avoided quoting the text of the amendments that failed, presenting them inaccurately as being for withdrawal from Iraq.

“The Republican-controlled Senate, embracing President Bush’s handling of the unpopular war in Iraq, rejected two Democratic efforts yesterday to begin a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the three-year-old conflict,” the Washington Post said June 23.

A Reuters dispatch from the previous day led with, “The Republican-led Senate on Thursday rejected Democratic plans to start a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.”

Neither article reported the unanimous vote on the defense spending bill. The Washington Post article did note that 31 of the Senate’s 44 Democrats voted against the Kerry amendment, while the Reuters dispatch did not mention that fact.

In the same debate, Senate Democrats also led an effort to block an offer to anti-government forces in Iraq, being discussed in Baghdad, for amnesty in exchange for laying down their arms. The deal has the support of the White House.

“The idea that they should even consider talking about amnesty for people who have killed people who liberated their country is unconscionable,” Senator Levin said in a June 25 interview on Fox News Sunday.
 
 
Related articles:
U.S. troops out of Iraq now!

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