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Senate Will Not Sway Bush On Iraq

Not only will Bush not reverse the habits of his six-and-a-half years in office to heed the cautions of some Senate Republicans because, for all their growing unease, prominent Republicans in the Senate are not prepared by any means to break with him in open revolt.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) June 28, 2007
Skepticism is growing among Republicans in the Senate about President Bush's strategy on Iraq, but it isn't going to have any impact on his determination to stay the course there. Newspaper reports this week stated that Republican Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio and Richard Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, were both becoming more actively vocal in urging troop reductions in Iraq on the president.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has significantly softened his previous opposition to reducing U.S. military forces in Iraq.

The reports appear accurate and the rate of unease among Senate Republicans -- especially those up for re-election next year -- with developments in Iraq looks almost certain to intensify. But these trends look extremely unlikely to affect administration policy. On the contrary, the likelihood is that the U.S. troop presence in Iraq will not only be maintained but may even be significantly boosted in the months ahead.

The first reason why the change in attitude among Senate Republicans will not influence the direction of Iraq policy is because President George W. Bush has never followed them on Iraq or any other major national security issues before. The president's decisiveness and determination to push ahead with bold, aggressive and visionary policies when he thinks they are right has won him passionate support from his admirers and ensured his decisive re-election two-and-a-half years ago. But because it is so deeply ingrained in his nature, it is not going to change now.

Second, President Bush is less of a Washington insider and less inclined to heed even key elements in his own party -- especially its more moderate wing -- on foreign policy than any other president in recent memory.

Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford and George Herbert Walker Bush were all veteran Washington insiders when they took over the Oval Office. All of them were experienced in dealing with Congress and making important alliances that they took seriously with leaders of their parties in both chambers on Capitol Hill.

Among the three "outsider presidents" of the past 30 years, Ronald Reagan brought two terms of political savvy in Sacramento dealing with legislators in the California legislature with him to Washington and Bill Clinton, a conciliator and negotiator by nature, proved skilful at wheeling and dealing within his own party even when his back was to the wall in the 1998 impeachment crisis.

Only Jimmy Carter among presidents over the past 60 years has treated Congress with anything like the disdain that President Bush has. It was not merely that the current president ignored minority Democrats in both chambers of Congress for his first six years in power, he also imposed strong discipline through Rep. Tom "The Hammer" DeLay of Texas, the long-time GOP enforcer, on his own party in the House of Representatives. Senate Republicans were simply expected to toe the line. They still are.

Not only will Bush not reverse the habits of his six-and-a-half years in office to heed the cautions of some Senate Republicans because, for all their growing unease, prominent Republicans in the Senate are not prepared by any means to break with him in open revolt.

It would take 16 to 20 Republican senators, as opposed to three or four, as is presently the case, to actively oppose the president on Iraq, Iran or other national security policies to have any influence on him. And even then, their influence would only be significant if they come to the point where they are prepared to side with Senate Democrats to push through key national security measures the president is opposed to by veto-proof two-thirds majorities.

All the slowly evolving unease and changes in attitude of key Republican senators is typical of the way the august chamber works. But it also explains why the Senate throughout American history has been a school to prepare ambitious politicians to fail to win the presidency. Since George Washington, was elected 218 years ago, only two sitting senators in all U.S. history have won the presidency -- Warren G. Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.

The Senate is about cutting deals and exerting influence. It has never been about preparing its members for the challenges and demands of exercising executive power. The Senate attracts lawyers by its nature. A surprisingly small number of successful business executives have run for it. The kind of challenges and career trajectories that the Senate offers does not appeal to them. They are far more likely to be appointed as Cabinet members.

If conditions improve in Iraq, the president will ride high, confirmed in his determination. But if they stay as they are, or get radically worse, then none of the growing concerns among dignified, cautious, veteran senators will save them from being repudiated by furious voters when the time of reckoning comes. In the meantime President Bush will push ahead with his policies, un-swayed by the cautions of Senate elders.

Source: United Press International

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The Iraqi Refugee Disaster
Washington (UPI) June 27, 2007
June 20 was World Refugee Day, designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the plight of refugees. According to U.N. estimates, about 2.2 million Iraqis -- close to half of them children -- have fled their country since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Unfortunately, the United States is missing a critical opportunity to build a positive long-term relationship with this younger generation.

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