Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Senate, Military Funding, and Iraq

Showing the sort of leadership we've come to expect over the last few months, the United States Senate pulled an all-nighter, and failed to pass military funding authorization in wartime.

The defense authorization bill that didn't pass would have included
  • Pay raises for service members
  • Missile defense programming
  • Rules on habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo Bay detainees
  • Equipment development plans
My hat's off to one of the major political parties. Even though they failed in their objective, they made a valiant effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The desire to end U.S. involvement in Iraq is understandable. It's been about four years now, and apart from
  • Removing a brutal dictator
  • Rebuilding much of the infrastructure neglected under his rule
  • Removing the dictator's enforcers and launching a civilian police force in their place
  • Re-training Iraqi armed forces for something other than genocide and pillaging operations and
  • Helping Iraqi leaders build a working government while under fire from religious fanatics
...not much has been achieved in Iraq.

I wonder how many people remember that it took 11 years for the United States of America to move from the Articles of Confederation to the start of the Constitution we're using now?

There are times when I feel that there should be a Chamberlain Committee to award the "Peace for Our Time" medal to those who excel at ignoring the big picture.

Yes, I'm biased.

I don't think that religious fanatics who were trying to kill us before 9/11 will stop because we abandon a country with which were were not closely involved before 2001.

I don't think people who sincerely believe that their god wants them to kill people who don't follow their rules will stop because the United States decides to get out of their way.

I don't think that it is reasonable to expect this struggle between one segment of Islam and everyone else will end soon. I would be astonished if this conflict took less time to resolve than the seven decades during which the Soviet Union absorbed much of eastern Europe, threatened the rest of the world, and provided some self-described deep thinkers a shining beacon of hope in a competitive world.

Back to the U.S. Congress.

I'm being a bit unfair, of course. The U.S. Congress has one recent achievement to its credit. Together, the houses of Congress have managed to not only score lower than President Bush in job approval, but to outdistance the president in job disapproval as well:

Job Approval:
25.0% Congress
33.0% President

Job Disapproval:
66.0% Congress
62.8% President

(from Real Clear Politics for Presidential and Congressional numbers, reported on Fox News)

Another issue that came up in the recent Congressional mess was the use of earmarks. These convenient little dodges are another topic - and one that I won't get into. At least, not now.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.