Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An opening wide enough to drive 130,000 US troops through....

Bush has threatened to "veto a war funding bill if it requires the removal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by September 2008".

And sure enought the Senate version of the bill, there is language that, at first glance, might suggest that they're requiring Bush to pull the troops out of Iraq.

But, as is ought to be evident to anyone with a passing knowledge of the English language, as Inigo Montoya would put it, "... that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means".

The bill requires Bush to:

(1) "promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the limited purposes set forth..." and

(2) commence the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, with the goal of redeploying, by March 31, 2008, all United States combat forces from Iraq except for a limited number that are essential for the following purposes:".

Note the words "transition", "commence" and "goal"; they are critical. As you should know, the relevant definition of 'transition' is to "change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another", the definition of 'commence' is "to start" and the definition of 'goal' is, as is relevant here, the "result or achievement toward which effort is directed".

Bush ought not have a problem with 'starting' to 'transition' a redeployment that has a 'goal' of us being out of Iraq at some point in the future. Note that there is no language that absolutely positively requires us to be out of Iraq by a certain date; he's only required to have a 'goal' of being out of Iraq by then.

And for a bill that supposedly puts all sorts of benchmarks in place for the Iraqi government, it's interesting that there are no hardset targets for the redeployment of American troops from Iraq. There's nothing that says, for example, that troop levels have to be reduced by a certain percentage or number by a certain date. All that is required is that Bush start the process of transitioning out.

And, in fact, isn't that what we're already doing? Aren't our troops in Iraq working towards getting the situation there stable enough (by Bush's standards) to where they can home? Aren't we already working on 'transitioning' Iraq from US to Iraqi military and civil control? Wouldn't we all love it if our troops were able to come home no later than March 31, 2008?

Now, I have to admit I'm a bit puzzled by this. After all, the Democrats, even the hard-core anti-war types, have access to the dictionary and, presumably, some experience in using it. I'd woulda thunk that they, as anxious as they profess to be to get our troops out of Iraq, would have stuck in some language that didn't leave room for Bush to drive 130,000+ troops through. They could have written the bill to 'require' that the number of troops be 'no greater' than a certain amount by a given date.

But they didn't... which makes me wonder. Are the Democrats truly clueless about the words they used? Or are they less interested than they claim to be in making sure our presence in Iraq is reduced? Or is the Senate bill irrelevant as, McQ suggests, the House bill will be the version that is sent to Bush?

So (assuming the Senate version is what comes out of conference) go ahead President Bush and sign the darn bill, there's nothing in it that ties your hands.

Unless of course, you want to object to Congress loading up the supposedly emergency spending bill with lots and lots of pork...