“The ice age has ended in Washington,” writes Tom Hayden. In the last twenty four hours, the momentum in Congress has shifted. “It’s a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion” is how Representative Jack Murtha–a 37 year Marine corps veteran–described the Iraq quagmire. In an emotional speech, this most hawkish of hawks, said that it is time for the war to end and for the troops to come home. Murtha also blasted Vice-President Cheney (“five-deferment Dick”) for his distort, distract and divide attacks against opponents of this war.
What next? Hayden lays out what needs to be done to bring this war to a speedy end.
Senate Strands Bush in Iraq by Tom Hayden
Congress finally got the message and began its own withdrawal from the Bush war policies this week, after many months of silent paralysis. On Wednesday I met with a staffer involved for three months in “slow, painful” internal Senate negotiations which had resulted in the murky bipartisan resolution passed with 79 votes the day before. The Washington Post headline summarized it well: “Senate Presses for Concrete Steps Toward Drawdown of Troops in Iraq.” Would there be follow-up?, I asked the longtime insider. “I doubt it, because it took so much to get even to this point,” was the reply. It would be “premature” to expect much more in the short term, I was advised.
The aide was wrong. The Senate may have been exhausted for the moment, but in the next 24 hours:
**Nineteen House members attended a press conference to endorse various resolutions to end funding (McGovern) or set withdrawal timetables (Abercrombie-Jones).
**The once-hardline Rep. Jane Harman advocated an exit strategy proposal in a Capitol Hill publication.
**Rep. John Murtha stunned the pundit class by advocating a six-month withdrawal, too much for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
**In the previous few days, Sen. John Kerry and former senators John Edwards and Tom Daschle stepped up their calls for a withdrawal plan.
It is much too early to predict a flood, but the ice age has ended in Washington. It is a time reminiscent of Watergate, when the US intervention in Vietnam collapsed as the White House was weakened by scandals arising from its covert operations against the antiwar movement.
The strategy of “Iraqization” seems finished except as a figleaf. The new Iraqi constitution, which damages the interests of Sunnis and women, barely passed amid widespread accusations of voter fraud. Then came the discovery of the Saddam-style torture chamber operated by Shiite militias under cover of the Iraqi army. The discredited Ahmad Chalabi brazenly flirted with high US officials about returning to power. If US and British troops redeploy, it is hard to imagine the Iraqi army standing up against the Iraqi resistance.