Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Senate votes to authorize continued occupation of Iraq

[Updated; see below]

The Senate has just finished voting on what some (observers and Senators) may think is an innocuous amendment - the Cornyn Amendment which expresses the sense of the Senate that Iraq not become a failed state and a safe haven for terrorists. Introduced by Republican John Cornyn, the Amendment was immediately given a strong endorsement by Sen. Carl Levin, and was supported by all leading Democrats (Clinton, Obama, etc.). The final vote was 94-3, with only Robert Byrd, Tom Harkin, and one other (I missed who) "no" vote.

So why do I call this a vote to authorize the continued occupation of Iraq? Because, as I wrote last Friday, the "vote against withdrawal" in the House, and the one which is about to (or not) take place in the Senate, has a Catch-22 in it. Despite calling for a "reduction of the number of Armed Forces in Iraq beginning not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall complete the reduction and transition to a limited presence of the Armed Forces in Iraq by not later than April 1, 2008," that vote also listed as one of the continuing missions, "Engaging in actions to disrupt and eliminate al-Qaeda and its affiliated organizations in Iraq." And now the Senate has underscored that mission by nearly unanimously declaring it the "sense of the Senate" that Iraq not become a "safe haven for terrorists."

Combined with the language already in the withdrawal bill, the just-passed Cornyn Amendment totally guts any meaning from the withdrawal, especially given the fact that the Administration (and the media, for that matter) describe virtually all actions being taken in Iraq as actions against "terrorists."

There has been talk of a vote to "deauthorize" the war. And indeed, all the original rationales for the war have evaporated, so rescinding the original authorization might make sense. Unfortunately, the Senate today then voted to "reauthorize" the war under a new rationale - preventing Iraq from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. And everyone who voted for that amendment are part and parcel of that reauthorization, and have the blood of those who die from this day forward on their hands.

Update: In thinking about this, I think I emphasized the second part of the amendment (the part about the safe haven for terrorists) but missed the significance of the first part (the "failed state" bit). Because if the Senate has voted 94-3 that Iraq "must not become a failed state," there's only conclusion you can draw from that - U.S. troops must stay in Iraq until Iraq is "stable" and can "defend itself." Which, just like the safe haven part, is essentially a prescription for an indefinite occupation, which has just been endorsed overwhelmingly by the Senate.

Why stop here? There's more...

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