Bush To Deny Troops Funding

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The President said today he would veto a bill providing for his request for funding continuing Iraq and Afghanistan operations. The Congress is about to give the President all he asked for and more, including a deadline for scaling back troop deployments and redefining the mission to one of support, as opposed to occupation. This poker hand between the Congress and the President is becoming a high stakes political game.

While Democrats may not know it, they are sitting on a winning bluff with the White House. However, as all poker players know, it requires skill, knowledge, and some intestinal fortitude to win on a bluff. Here is the deal.

The President can approve the legislation which provides funding for the surge he called for through to Fall, which is how long Gen. Petraeus said it would take to tell if the surge policy would be successful or not. If he does, he has an uphill battle in the Fall, if the surge is successful, in trying to keep our troops in Iraq. If the surge is successful in quelling the civil war, and Iraqi troops can take control of the relative peace, there is no role for the U.S. to remain engaged in peacekeeping police missions.

Of course, the President has said, he will not leave Iraq while he is President. And he said that unequivocally, and without condition. If his word is to be trusted, this means peace in Iraq will not alter the President's intentions to continue the Iraq occupation.

If the President, on the other hand, vetoes the spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, he strengthens the Congress' hand by denying the troops the very funding he asked for. Now, here is where the all important bluff comes in. If the White House vetoes the bill, and Congress sends up another appropriations bill with a withdrawal from Iraq set in it, then the President is going to have a far tougher time vetoing this second bill, and tougher yet, the third, fourth and so on, as he himself becomes the Commander in Chief who insists on continuing a military mission for which our soldiers are not equipped to handle.

The President, not the Congress, will have made the decision to continue putting our troops in harm's way without the resources they need, and the military losses that result will be directly a result of the President's refusal to redefine an Iraq strategy that can succeed. Of course, the White House will spin that Congress' condition on the money is failing to support the troops. But, it will not be a winning argument, since it is the Commander in Chief, not the Congress, which is responsible for insuring that the military mission be defined by available resources.

If the money for continuing the occupation is not there because the President vetoed it, but, the President insists our soldiers remain on the battlefield without bullets or armor, and their casualties rise, the American people will not blame the Congress or Democrats, but, the Commander in Chief and the White House. Do Democrats have the saavy and intestinal fortitude to play this kind of high stakes poker with the White House? That remains to be seen.

But, being a veteran poker player of many decades, if I were a Democrat, I would think I had just been dealt a Royal Flush after winning the last 5 hands in a row.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on April 3, 2007 5:38 PM.

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