Who Cares What the RI Legislature Thinks About Iraq?

Perhaps if House Democrats would refrain from debating utterly non-Rhode Island related “legislation” such as H 5340, a House Resolution “RESPECTFULLY REQUESTING THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO OPPOSE PRESIDENT BUSH’S PLAN TO INCREASE US TROOPS IN IRAQ,” then they wouldn’t have to put the pedal to the metal in June. (Of course, that’s assuming they don’t like shoving all of the legislation down our throats with little chance for review). Besides, does it really matter what the Rhode Island Legislature has to say about Iraq? Well, for those who wake up every day and drink a tall glass of hubris (Reps. Crowley, McNamara, Naughton, Shanley, and Lewiss), I guess it does:

WHEREAS, The initial war plans for Iraq had a preliminary American invasion force of about 130,000 soldiers and Marines, which would drop to 30,000 to 50,000 by the end of 2003; and
WHEREAS, As of mid-November 2006, there were approximately 152,000 United States troops deployed to Iraq; and
WHEREAS, In his State of the Union Address, President Bush affirmed his commitment of more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq; and
WHEREAS, This policy of “escalation” is simply the wrong answer to the situation in Iraq at this time; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby urges the United States Congress to oppose President Bush’s plan to increase United States troops in Iraq; and be it further
RESOLVED, That this House urges the Congress to support a plan to redeploy American Troops currently serving in Iraq and seek a political resolution to the internal Iraq conflict; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the Rhode Island Congressional delegation.

Setting aside the total lack of perspective with regards to the first “WHEREAS” concerning initial troop estimates vs. reality (apparently, they’ve read somewhere that pre-conflict troop estimates are always accurate and never change as the situation changes.) And temporarily setting aside the aforementioned fact that it is a total waste of time. (Newsflash: no one gives a darn what the freakin’ RI Legislature thinks about foreign affairs. Get over yourselves). The reality in Iraq is quickly bypassing their “RESOLVE”s, but they don’t realize it because, like so many politicians, they have already made up their minds on Iraq–facts be damned–and are still sticking to the November 2006 script. What a wonderfully static way to look at the world.
The Mainstream Media has also been following the same template, which is why NBCs Brian Williams should be given credit for going to Iraq to see things for himself. And he’s beginning to realize that the Conventional Wisdom in the U.S. doesn’t reflect the reality in Iraq.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Williams observed:

Today, the message that we`re prepared to report tonight on “NBC Nightly News” is this kind of tale of two wars.
I`m fresh from, you know, weeks of putting together “NBC Nightly News” and televising this debate in Washington, a lot of members of Congress saying we should be out now.
And today, we literally airlift into a place like Ramadi, where they are so proud of the latest city block they say they have been able to “peacify.” They have been able to forge an agreement with the local religious leaders and knock al Qaeda one city block further away from the center of town.
They are so involved in the battle. Many, many soldiers told me today the local people are so worried they`re going to leave cities like Ramadi and Hit. That`s the war they know.
And they say very politely, they can talk all they want in D.C.; we`ve got to enforce the policy, the job we`re here to do.

And, according to Williams, the effect is already being felt:

Well, I`ll tell you. It`s in its early stages and with – if you mention the so-called surge, you have to talk about it in tandem with this new policy of these small outposts, these – what they are really is glorified police stations.
We saw it today in Ramadi. There is patently no way a few weeks ago we could have stood outside an armored vehicle and had a conversation as we did today in Ramadi.
They have changed policy there. The war has changed.
Is it better? That`ll be for other people to judge. But it is already being felt here, that is, the increase in troops. The first ones are already here.
There`s a huge field behind us they are clearing for the 3rd Infantry, for their next tour of duty here. And so, we`ll have to wait and see. It`s on a continuum.
But, again, the combination, with this change in policy – getting out, decentralizing, going into the neighborhoods, grabbing a toehold, telling the enemy we`re here, start talking to the locals – that is having an obvious and palpable effect.

Williams, who was touring Iraq with Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, also offered this report (link is to MSNBC video, transcript from here. All via A Second Hand Conjecture):

“This is what the General heard today about how warmly the locals now view the Americans.”
U.S. Army Colonel John Charlton: “They do not want us to leave. They want to see the police come through.”
U. S. Army Lt. Colonel Charles Ferry: “The people here are very glad to see us. They are very hesitant still because they’re not sure if we’re going to stay. They want us to stay.”
Voice of Odierno?: “That’s the issue.”
Ferry: “That’s the whole deal. If we stay down here and to keep beating down the insurgents.”
Brian Williams, to one or more of the officers: “You just said, ‘They don’t want us to leave.’ That’s the tenth time today I’ve heard that. I’ve got to go back to the States and do a newscast that every night has another politician or 12 of them saying, ‘We have got to get out of that godforsaken place.’”
Odierno: “They can talk about policy, okay, and that’s what they have to do back there. My mission right now is to provide protection for the Iraqi people so this government can grow.”

NBC correspondent Richard Engel also added:

Some say they [insurgents] are just waiting to see how long the U.S. will stay and how long this surge will continue. It was obvious, the U.S. announced the surge, they said where the U.S. troops were going and the militia decided they fought the U.S. two-and-a-half years ago, didn’t have a lot of success. They decided this time they’re going to wait it out, see if political pressure in the U.S. can help them win this time.

Williams wrapped up the report:

Brian Williams: “And General, you and I heard sentiments we don’t often hear today, the U.S. commanders quoting the Iraqis: ‘please don’t leave us.’ And a lot of the U.S. fighters there today said they didn’t want to leave this fight, they are dedicated to it.”
Retired General Wayne Downing: “Brian, every single one of them, I ran into a lot of officers and NCOs that I served with — every soldier that I ran across today I asked him: ‘How do you feel about what’s going on, what do you know about what is going on back in the states?’ And without exception — this was spontaneous, especially when you start talking to PFCs and Spec 4s, they’re going to tell you the truth, no party line. Very proud of what they’re doing. Very, very dedicated. Many of these guys, Brian, are back here on their second and third tours. These are one-year tours. Extremely well trained and very professional.”

It’s amazing how the story changes when the media actually makes an effort, isn’t it? Does it sound to you like the President’s plan isn’t working? As I said, reality is eclipsing the November 2006 template, but the Democrats in the RI House are too fixated on making rhetorical political hay to realize it. And their meaningless and ideologically self-indulgent resolution runs contra to what the troops on the ground believe. Finally, as they get their jones by “taking a stand,” they lose valuable time that should be spent addressing the very real fiscal crisis that is facing our state.

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17 years ago

EXCELLENT analysis, Marc. Under the American Constitution, war powers and the conduct of foreign affairs vest solely with the United States Congress. This is empty political grandstanding of the most transparent sort.
I note that the rep from South Kingstown is a co-sponsor. Mr. Shanley was genuinely shocked to learn in October how badly upside down Rhode Island’s public pensions are (thanks to the fiscal irresponsibility of himself and his Dem buddies). Yet he has signed on to this foolishness. I trust the members of the public employees union that contribute heavily to his campaign appreciate these political priorities.

17 years ago

While I agree with the sentiment expressed in the resolution, the Assembly inevitably shoots itself in the foot with these kind of extracurricular resolutions. It just reminds me of the 1978 measure in which it congratulated PC on a great basketball season while failing to take similar action for URI (the Rams proceeded to beat PC in the conference tournament, earn an NCAA bid, and make a much better showing in March Madness than PC did).

17 years ago

Who cares what the RI legilature thinks about Iraq or Iran?
I DO !

17 years ago

Look at it this way:
The more time they spend on pointless resolutions about issues that are totally outside their power, the less time they have to cause other kinds of trouble for the rest of us!

17 years ago

this is all self-important pc bulls*&% and everyone knows it.
what this state needs more than anything else is for the GA to go into hibernation for 18 months and only awake to deal with state business once every two years. if the GA doesn’t have any other pertinent state issues to focus on then they should just close up shop on smith hill and save the taxpayers some money on heating, electric, staff, and paper costs.

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