Here’s an interesting political position: Keep U.S. troops in Iraq and signal to the Iraqi government that its O.K. to pardon insurgents who kill Americans.

Even in the frequently surreal debate over this absurd war, that sounds like too warped a position for anyone in Congress to take.

Yet, that’s the stance 19 senators took Tuesday.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson proposed a simple amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. It sought: “To express the sense of Congress that the Government of Iraq should not grant amnesty to persons known to have attacked, killed, or wounded members of the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Seventy-nine senators — all the Democrats who participated in the vote, as well as most of the Republicans — backed the Nelson amendment.

But 19 senators opposed it. All are Republican supporters of the war, who have voted to keep U.S. troops in Iraq. Yet they voted against a measure putting the Congress on record in opposition to granting amnesty to Iraqis who kill U.S. soldiers.

It would be unfair to suggest that the 19 “no” voters want Americans to die in Iraq, or that they want those deaths to go unpunished. It’s just that they are unwilling to provoke an unstable Iraqi government by having the U.S. Congress send such a blunt message.

In other words, the 19 are so committed to making a success of the Iraq imbroglio that they don’t want to say or do anything to upset the puppets, er, politicians in Baghdad.

The 19 senators who have given new meaning to the term “pro-war” are:

Wayne Allard of Colorado

Kit Bond of Missouri

Jim Bunning of Kentucky

Conrad Burns of Montana

Tom Coburn of Oklahoma

Thad Cochran of Mississippi

John Cornyn of Texas

Jim DeMint of South Carolina

Mike Enzi of Wyoming

Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

Chuck Hagel of Nebraska

Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma

Jon Kyl of Arizona

Trent Lott of Mississippi

John McCain of Arizona

Jeff Sessions of Alabama

Ted Stevens of Alaska

Craig Thomas of Wyoming

John Warner of Virginia

Notably, Kyl and Burns face serious reelection challenges this year. It will be interesting to watch them try to explain this vote on the campaign trail.