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.