Long Story Short: Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund’s message this week re the Senate version of the supplemental will be to tell senators this: Troops Home in 2007, and support a Webb amendment to prevent funds from being used to attack Iran.
Right now, it appears no senator will vote against the supplemental for “the right reasons” (i.e. our reasons) – that the bill is too weak, has too many loopholes that could leave tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely, that March 31, 2008 is only a goal, not a deadline, etc. We cannot support the bill, just as we could not support last week’s House version of the supplemental (more on that vote in a minute).
So the message above – Troops Home in 2007 – tells them what we want, so we are not compromising our position, and also tells them we are not satisfied with the bill, but it does not explicitly advocate voting against the bill. And getting the Iran amendment (we don’t know the language yet, but assume it will be close to Webb’s stand-alone bill on this issue, S. 759 http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.759 :) passed, and then we work to ensure it gets included in the conference committee version of the bill, would be very significant.
Also, the “Troops Home in 2007” message sets us up nicely for the coming action on the conference committee and especially, veto threat by Bush (I’ll outline more regarding strategy on those next steps soon).
A few words on the House vote on the supplemental – on Friday morning, I was literally sick to my stomach over the actions of the House “leadership”, and that rarely happens to me. However, as I reflected over the weekend, I think the outcome of Friday’s vote to pass the supplemental, which we opposed, actually might be to the good in the long run.
“How’s that?” you might well ask. First off, we (Peace Action and the overwhelming majority, near consensus really, of the peace movement) did the right thing in opposing the bill, did not compromise our principles, and earned respect for that. My sense is the Dem “leadership” was so freaked out about the supplemental that if we had defeated it, they might well have turned around and responded by proposing to send a “blank check” supplemental with no fetters on Bush’s warmongering authority, which we would have had to mobilize to oppose, and it might have gotten very ugly, very fast.
We learned a lot from last week’s vote, which will serve us well as we move forward. I think we may well be in a better position now to influence the conference committee version of the supplemental, action around a Bush veto threat, as well as our work on the $140 billion more for the war in the “regular” military budget, which will wend its way through Congress this spring and summer, and possibly to bringing impeachment into play. One of the things we learned is the “leadership” has not thought much about their strategy on these next steps, which to me is an opportunity for us to tell them what they need to do.
In short, I think we are winning. Not nearly fast enough for any of us, but if we keep doing our work, we will end this goddamn war, and stop Bush from initiating another.