Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Run to the Right on Troop Funding
I have heard several prominent Democratic columnists arguing that Dems should run to the right of the President on this issue. Instead of accepting the administration’s estimates in the $20 million range, Dems should press for $40 million plus to ensure our troops have the armor and ammunition.
This is the right approach to take to make sure the military has the funding and troop numbers needed to stabilize the security situation enough begin the process of internationalizing the occupation of Iraq. We have let the ideologues run their war on the cheap for to long with the brunt of their ill preparedness being borne by the soldiers stationed in Iraq. Enough is enough!
In order to not complicate their efforts to win approval, this administration told Americans that at this point in the war, American troops on the ground in Iraq would number less than 30k. They even publicly reprimanded General Eric Shinseki for arguing over 200k troops would be needed to maintain order in post-war Iraq.
Instead, we have dangerously followed a minimalist policy, not for strategic reasons, but only because this administration is not capable of admitting it was wrong. I’m not going to speculate whether more soldiers have died because of this policy, but it has certainly made it harder long-term for America to extricate our troops from Iraq.
Last year if you remember, I criticized Kerry for his stance on the $87 billion last year because I thought it was an opportunity lost. My hope is that Nancy Pelosi and Tom Daschle can build a large enough coalition to push for adequate funding of our troops. We should have at least two weeks with daily presentations showing the areas our troops have been short-changed before the bill is allowed to come to a vote. Does this mean we are politicizing the situation in the same way this administration has in the past? No, simply for one reason, self-interest... The Bush administration is short-changing American troops in the field in order protect themselves politically while Democrats are merely calling for our troops to given the resources to be fully protected.
And one other note to Pelosi and Daschle, don’t add in anything to your bills other than military appropriations. No first responder funds or other domestic issues, no matter how important. Don’t give the Republicans a chance to cry “apples and oranges.” Concentrate on giving the troops what they need and nothing more.