Friday, March 09, 2007

$20 Billion More? Ok, but Still Ignores Needs of Iraqis

The Wall Street Journal reports on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposed new spending bill.

Here is the breakdown:

$4.0 billion defense spending, including $1 billion for military operations in Afghanistan
$3.1 billion relocation of U.S. troops from overseas bases being closed in Europe and Asia
$2.5 billion homeland security
$1.7 billion veteran's healthcare
$8.7 billion domestic spending including farm disaster aid, and Gulf Coast recovery

In all, she hopes to add $20 billion to the administration's $99.6 billion 2007 supplemental request. The bill also sets a timeline for withdrawal. From the press release:
To pressure Iraqi leaders to make the compromises necessary to end the chaos that has resulted from their lack of performance to date, the proposal establishes a timeline for ending U.S. participation in Iraq’s civil war.

By July 1st, 2007 the President must certify that Iraq is making meaningful and substantial progress in meeting political and military benchmarks including a militia disarmament program and a plan that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqi factions. If he does not certify - troops must begin immediate redeployment and U.S. troop involvement in the Iraq civil war must be completed by December 2007 (180 days).

By October 1st, the President must certify that Iraqis have achieved key benchmarks. If he does not make the second certification, troops must begin immediate redeployment to be completed by March of 2008 (180 days).

Even if he makes both certifications, the Administration must start redeploying the U.S. Military from Iraq by March 1, 2008, and complete the redeployment by August of 2008 (180 days).
The bill also prevents the President from initiating offensive military operations against Iran without the approval of the Congress.

I certainly can't fault Pelosi for what she has included in this bill: it is apparent to all that more attention needs to be paid to Afghanistan, U.S. veterans must be taken care of properly, and current U.S. soldiers should certainly receive all the proper equipment they need.

As the press release states, "This bill meets every possible obligation for our troops..." But what about the Iraqis? The misguided policies of the U.S. have been instrumental in creating the current crises in Iraq including a 60% unemployment rate, and a displaced population of 3.7 million. Pelosi suggests an addition of $20 billion to an already bloated war budget and could not think to include at least $428 million for economic and humanitarian assistance?

Hopefully Congress will heed the call of those 40 organizations and include these funds in the 2007 Supplemental. And while I am sure everyone would like the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Iraq, we should not set timelines that ignore political and economic progress in Iraq. Instead our withdrawal ought to be contingent on these two factors. In other words when we withdraw our troops from Iraq, it must be done responsibly.

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics