Monday, November 21, 2005

Republicans mock Murtha resolution.

The tragedy continues. The Republicans are fighting against using debate to settle big issues that affect our country and everyone in it—as well as much of the rest of the world. That's how they got their war, and they're doing it again. An airing of grievences and different points of view might get us somewhere; shutting down all discussion right away will not.

At issue this time was Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pennsylvania)'s proposed resolution that Congress set a time table to get us out of Iraq. Congressional Republicans fought against discussion by creating a parody of Murtha's proposal and writing their own, which called for an immediate pullout from Iraq. That's not at all what Murtha wanted, but that's what the Republicans are trying to say he did.

Congress spent more time talking about Terry Schiavo than this. And they spent much more time about gutting Medicaid benefits than this (and managed to get away with that one, too.) Republicans owe it to America to be embarrassed about this. They continue to buy this war and are happily taking our country down with them. The War On Discussion will continue, but if they think this is the end of the debate, they're sorely mistaken. Just like those were who voted to invade Iraq.

However, the Republicans' stunt failed. The idea was to get the Democrats to fracture, and to have some of them vote for this parody of Murtha's proposal, and to have some vote against it. What happened was that nearly all the Democrats in the House voted for it (apart from those few who didn't vote.) And although every Democrat who voted in this sham voted against it, five Republicans joined. The sham resolution to pull out immediately passed 212-210, with the Democrats looking good afterward, and the whole thing blowing up in Duncan Hunter and Henry Hyde's smug faces.

Another bill, this time the resolution calling for the immediate pullout (instead of the aforementioned vote to add a line to the bill calling for immediate pullout—confused yet?) failed 403-3. There's no serious sentiment to pull out pell-mell, but the Republicans' political strategy hinges on people believing that that sentiment exists. They want to boil it down to a simple stay-or-go debate, but it's really not that simple, and while the war has grown unpopular, how many people really just want to pull out?

Frankly, I'm afraid of what would happen if we did just pull everyone out. While I still think we should never have gone in in the first place, what would happen to Iraq if we abandoned it? It would probably split up, with a Sunni state maintaining friendly politics with Iran, a Shiite state that's friendlier with the Arab states, and a Kurdish state that would inspire instability in eastern Turkey. Turkey, being one of the West's strongest allies, wouldn't appreciate that. I have mixed feelings on it, myself. On one hand, I don't like the idea of infuriating Turkey, but on the other, I've always felt that the Kurds deserved their own state.

We've really made a hash of the Middle East. The answers aren't simple, and the Republicans' talking points that they are that simple are really hurting what they want to accomplish—whatever that is. We can't afford to go on without a real debate on this, now more than ever. It was a lack of real debate that got us involved in Iraq in the first place. Failing to air this out among Congress and the American people (as well as among other countries) will only compound problems. For all the complaints people make about the mess that the European colonialists left, this one promises to be more of an open, bleeding sore.

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