Small Wars Journal

General Pelosi's Slow Bleed Strategy

Even the liberal-leaning and oft anti-war Los Angeles Times has concerns, as expressed in an editorial this morning - Do We Really Need a Gen. Pelosi?

Though the focus is on the surge, the LA Times - in their own way - seems to be reaching an understanding that the surge is not the strategy. And if Congress overwhelmingly confirmed General Dave Petraeus to lead our efforts in Iraq, then it makes sense to give him the time and tools to do his job and, more importantly, not micro-manage the war from inside the beltway.

... But if Congress accepts Bush's argument that there is still hope, however faint, that the U.S. military can be effective in quelling the sectarian violence, that U.S. economic aid can yet bring about an improvement in Iraqi lives that won't be bombed away and that American diplomatic power can be harnessed to pressure Shiites and Sunnis to make peace -- if Congress accepts this, then lawmakers have a duty to let the president try this "surge and leverage" strategy.

By interfering with the discretion of the commander in chief and military leaders in order to fulfill domestic political needs, Congress undermines whatever prospects remain of a successful outcome. It's absurd for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to try to micromanage the conflict, and the evolution of Iraqi society, with arbitrary timetables and benchmarks.

Congress should not hinder Bush's ability to seek the best possible endgame to this very bad war. The president needs the leeway to threaten, or negotiate with, Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds, Syrians and Iranians and Turks. Congress can find many ways to express its view that U.S. involvement, certainly at this level, must not go on indefinitely, but it must not limit the president's ability to maneuver at this critical juncture...

Congress is getting trapped by many members' foolish mantra that they support the troops but not the war. Their current course could well get more troops killed or wounded and sabotage any chance of reversing the current state of affairs in Iraq.

Otherwise, just stop the funding now and get the troops out as soon as possible. Congress must not be permitted to have one's cake and eat it too.

Vice President Cheney made reference to this sad state of affairs today -- he called it a "slow bleed".

The U.S. war effort in Iraq is being undercut by members of Congress calling for deadlines and funding restrictions that simply encourage the enemy to "wait us out," Vice President Dick Cheney said on Monday.

"When members of Congress pursue an anti-war strategy that's been called slow bleed, they're not supporting the troops, they're undermining them,"...

UPDATE: Tuesday's Washington Post editorial - The Pelosi Plan for Iraq.

... The only constituency House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignored in her plan for amending President Bush's supplemental war funding bill are the people of the country that U.S. troops are fighting to stabilize. The Democratic proposal doesn't attempt to answer the question of why August 2008 is the right moment for the Iraqi government to lose all support from U.S. combat units. It doesn't hint at what might happen if American forces were to leave at the end of this year -- a development that would be triggered by the Iraqi government's weakness. It doesn't explain how continued U.S. interests in Iraq, which holds the world's second-largest oil reserves and a substantial cadre of al-Qaeda militants, would be protected after 2008; in fact, it may prohibit U.S. forces from returning once they leave.

In short, the Democratic proposal to be taken up this week is an attempt to impose detailed management on a war without regard for the war itself...

Tuesday's National Review editorial - The "Let's Lose Now" Caucus.

... Although this doesn't go as far as John Murtha's proposal for readiness requirements that would have kept troops from deploying to Iraq, it is still a brazen attempt by the legislature to occupy executive territory. Congress hasn't the power -- and was not intended -- to supervise the execution of military objectives, nor is its approval necessary for the commander-in-chief to use the armed forces as he sees fit. Congress can cut off funding from the military, and Pelosi has inched in that direction with this bill. Yet the bill does not actually exercise Congress's power of the purse. It would expire at the end of September, and any actual defunding of Iraq operations -- whether this year or next spring -- would require the passage of additional legislation.

The bill does succeed in showing the emptiness of Pelosi's claim that her Democrats support U.S. troops even as they oppose the war. The message is: We don't believe you should be there; we don't believe you can win (even as the surge shows early signs of progress); so be warned that we mean to pull the rug out from under you as soon as we can get away with it...


Brian H (not verified)

Mon, 05/14/2007 - 9:41pm

In a word, yes. Warmaking is the prerogative of the Administration. Because the mob-rule Congress is far too full of short-sighted and self-serving little people to be allowed to get its hands on such issues. As it routinely demonstrates. Not to mention being FAR too slow off the mark to do anything timely.

When, if ever, should Congress use its authority under the Constitution to appropriate money to alter the course of a war that many reps or senators feel is being managed in a way that damages U.S. interests?

By that I mean, does Congress's authority stop at just oversight? Are they bound to always support every request for funding from POTUS no matter what and that all decisions on the deployment of those funds/troops are to not be commented upon?

Hey, this info shared is worthy of an RCP vote as far as I'm concerned.

I just have the most difficult time fathoming the lack of conscience, ethical standards, morality...the utter lack of a soul that it takes to play the game these people are playing. This is what the voters called for in Nov? Endless scamming of the system; closed meetings to come up with more toothless, yet harmful words?

Pelosi and the Dems truly disgust me. I'm also shocked to see editorial or not, pieces that actually are honest from the LA Times and Wapo.

Have you heard soundbytes or seen video of Murtha, Pelosi and Hoyer stumbling in front of the press last week trying to introduce their latest steaming pile? Jaw dropping....mines wired right now.

thanks for the post.

Raymond (not verified)

Tue, 03/13/2007 - 10:31am

What concerns me is that these tactics are very simular to those used by Marius and Sulpicius in the Roman Senate in 88 BCE. When they transfer command away from Sulla to Marius in the campaign against Mithridates. It was this act that brought things to a head and resulted in Sulla eventually leading his Legions against Rome and the Senate. While what the Democrats are doing are not quite to this level, it doesn't take much imagination to see tactics like these being taken one step too far.

Rome also seemed to have been also a very similar polarizing division in the political ranks with the Optimates on one side and the Populares on the other. I don't know where this will lead but I can't look at history and not see that history has a chance of repeating itself.