Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, January 4, 2007
You might think that with so much attention focussed on the new Congress and U.S. policy on Iraq politicians would be forced to give clear answers on where they stand.
Unfortunately, many politicians are getting away with bobbing and weaving. In a classic example, Senator Hillary Clinton said on December 18, "I am not in favor of doing that [a troop surge] unless it's part of a larger plan," garnering a widely appearing AP story with the headline, "Sen. Clinton Opposes Troop Surge In Iraq." I'm sure her advisers were very pleased. Of course it's going to be "part of a larger plan." This allows her to go either way. She was for it before she was against it.
Some key Senate Democrats say they could consider supporting a short-term increase in American troop levels in Iraq, the New York Times reports. Senator Carl Levin, head of the Armed Services Committee, said he would not "prejudge" the president's proposal. Senator Reid has said that he will consider supporting a short-term increase in troops, but his spokesman, Jim Manley, declared, "If it's not temporary in nature, it's a nonstarter."
"I am not in favor of that unless the president can convince me otherwise," Senator Mark Pryor said.
How about a straight answer? What information don't you have?
And that's just on the surge, the aspect that's most now in discussion, where one would think the political incentives for being squishy would be weakest, given that only 11% of Americans support a surge, according to a CNN poll last month.
On the critical questions of a timetable for the withdrawal of all US troops and bases from Iraq, opposing funding for continuing the war another year, and initiating direct US talks with Iran, as unanimously recommended by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, many politicians remain silent - including presidential candidates, who will have an increasing impact on the parameters of debate.
It will take a movement to remedy this. Just Foreign Policy is calling for all Americans to seek straight answers from all Members of Congress and presidential candidates on Four Questions:
1) Do you oppose President Bush's plan to "surge" more U.S. troops into Iraq?
2) Do you support a timetable for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and bases from Iraq?
3) Will you oppose funding to continue the war into 2008?
4) Do you support direct U.S. talks on Iraq with Syria and Iran, without preconditions?
Answers to any of the Four Questions can be posted as comments on this blog, and/or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. We recommend writing and calling Congressional offices, but press reports will do as well. Answers will be posted on the Just Foreign Policy website. Help us get the politicians on the record, yes or no. Which side are you on?