Anti-war House Democrats urged colleagues yesterday to set a “clear timeline” for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, CNN reported today. The leaders of the “Out of Iraq Caucus” challenged Democrats to assume the political risk of ending the war. A letter to party colleagues also accused the Bush administration of playing a game of “chicken” with the war, “where whoever acts to bring a responsible end to their failed policy will be accused of having lost Iraq.”
“There is no question that moving to stop this folly carries a political risk — the accusation that Democrats gave up on the Vietnam War, despite all evidence that it was an unwinnable conflict, hurt the party’s credibility on national security issues for a generation,” they wrote.
However they argue that costs of the war have become “unsustainable,” damaging efforts to battle terrorism and costing the country more than $8 billion a month.
“The longer we allow the administration to delay meaningful movement, and the longer we fail to extract ourselves from this quagmire, the more dangerous this failed foreign policy becomes to America and the rest of the world,” they say.
The Out of Iraq Caucus claims to include about 75 House members — nearly a third of the Democratic majority. The signers of Wednesday’s letter include Reps. Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Sam Farr and Maxine Waters of California; and Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Maurice Hinchey of New York.
The letter calls for Congress to set a timetable for pulling American troops out of Iraq and to fully fund their withdrawal. According to CNN, a Democratic congressional source said that members are debating whether the timeline would span six months or last until the end of 2007.
The deaths of three U.S. troops in an explosion Wednesday northwest of Baghdad raised the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 3,180. Seven American civilian contractors of the military also have died in the conflict. At least 13 have died this week, according to the U.S. military.
Public support for the war has fallen sharply over the past two years, with polls indicating about twice as many Americans oppose President Bush’s handling of the war as support it. But since assuming control of Congress in January with what Democratic leaders called a mandate to change course in Iraq, the new majority has struggled to produce acceptable, binding legislation to force the administration to bring U.S. troops home.
The Out of Iraq Caucus says its proposal would force GOP representatives to defend their support for the ongoing conflict, “which is a debate that Democrats win every time.”
The House passed a nonbinding resolution opposing Bush’s deployment of more than 21,000 additional troops to Iraq in February. Seventeen GOP members joined Democrats in supporting that resolution.