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Levin, Democrats want to micromanage war

Posted by Stephen on February 25, 2007

As the rhetoric over the war heats up on capital hill it seems inevitable that a collision that will have constitutional ramifications may take place. Democrats in the Senate failed to pass a nonbinding resolution protesting the president’s decision to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. Now Levin and Senate Democrats plan to attempt binding legislation that would repeal the authority granted the president before the Iraq war began.

“We’re going to come up with a resolution that modifies our role, that places us in a modifying role rather then a combative role. We want to transform our role to a more limited purpose,” said Senator Carl Levin (D-Mi.) on Meet The Press with Tim Russert.

“We would follow basically the pattern set by the Iraqi study group. We would pull out most of the combat troops,” said the Senator.

Levin feels the question leading to this step by his party is a simple one. “Do we want American troops in the middle of a civil war,” asks Levin.

This is the debate Levin says his party has wanted to have, but Republicans have filibustered. However, Democrats had refused to allow debate of alternative resolutions offered by Republicans that would have made guarantees for troops that Democrats didn’t want to address. The partisan battle continues to rage on with little in the way of progress being made on either side.

Levin and Democrats threaten to send binding legislation to the president’s desk and the president seems poised to veto in suggestion that he give up authority to manage the war to congress. Levin says the battle lines may be drawn in the sand. The Senate majority leader stated that if the president ignores legislation then, “we will have a constitutional battle on our hands.”

The Senate minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell said “what seems to be coming next is stage two of the Democrats slow bleed strategy. They want, it seems to me, to un-ring a bell by reversing something they voted for….The truth of the matter is there is only one thing Democrats can do if they want to end the war. They can cut the funding.”

In response to McConnell, Levin laid out the Democrats plan. “There’s another way to achieve our goal. We can cap the number of troops. We can change our mission…Our issue is with this administration and this president. He is on a course that is leading us to defeat. He is leading us to defeat.”

Levin acknowledged that Democrats do not have the 60 votes to break a filibuster should Senate Republicans reject the Democrat’s attempts to micro manage war plans. However, Levin believes Democrats have a right to address operations in Iraq.

“I think Congress has at least a joint role in determining what the mission is…What the mission is it seems to me is just as much a congressional determination as it is a presidential determination,” said Levin.

He added, “The president needs a check and a balance. This president hasn’t had one, and he needs to have one. We are on a failing course in Iraq.”

When asked if, after a withdrawal, Iraq plunged into total chaos and civil warfare, he knew what he would do; Levin did not have an answer. Again, when asked if he would be prepared to send troops back in if Iraq became a training bed and haven for terrorists, the Senator danced around the question and did not provide an answer.

Democrats, in Levin’s estimation, feel it is important to change the course in Iraq. Levin consistently stated that President Bush’s policy is unacceptable to Democrats and that the administration is failing. Levin offers a plan that is centered on reversing powers provided the president in a time of war while lending support, in part, to the Baker-Hamilton findings provided by the Iraqi study group.

California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, appearing on Face the Nation responded to Levin’s ideas on Iraq.

“Democrats should not be allowed to micro manage the war. That is the absolute worse thing they could do. If they believe that the war should end, then they should vote to cut funding. Otherwise they should allow the president to manage the war.”

Schwarzenegger had his own ideas on the future of the war. “I do believe we should set a timeline of some type. We need to send a message to the Iraqi’s that we are not there for an open ended commitment.” He then addressed the partisan battle waging on Washington. “Democrats, Republicans, and the president must come together and discuss ideas instead of fighting separate battles. Instead of each side creating legislation and then fighting it out, they need to discuss ideas and solutions in an attempt to come up with a compromise or a resolution that both sides can agree to.”

Sunday’s discussions come on the heels of news in Iraq that there have been some signs of change in Baghdad in recent days.

According to Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. and Iraqi security forces are currently performing a security crackdown in Baghdad, where they have already killed more than 400 suspected militants. The second stage of the latest crackdown is set to take place in Ramadi in Anbar province where Al Qaeda has exerted control.

General Petraeus’s, plan for retaking control of Baghdad puts American forces at greater risk of attack than when they were stationed in large bases on the periphery, but the crackdown has sharply reduced the number of civilian deaths in the capital.

Fox News is reporting that in Yarmouk, a largely Sunni neighborhood just a mile from the fortified green zone, three new checkpoints were set up last week and every car was stopped. In a marked change of policy, Iraqi soldiers confiscated any weapons carried by civilians. “Before the security plan started, we would find about 10 dead bodies every day,” said one checkpoint guard. “Nowadays we find about two bodies a day.”

Iraq closed its border crossings with Iran and Syria last week and set up new checkpoints in the hope of slowing the supply of arms and foreign fighters into the country.

Progress may be in the eye of the beholder. Senator Levin clearly does not wish to wait to see if current plans in Iraq have the ability to succeed. Just as clear is that the president has no intention of succumbing to the call for what he believes is a request to pull out before all efforts to stabilize Iraq have been exhausted.

Caught in the middle are the American people, fearful of terror attacks, and weary of war. Seemingly in the abyss lie solutions embedded in economic plans that neither side has the foresight to place in the center of their Sunday discussions.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.

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