Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 7-7-07: Lt. Gen. Odom Has Credibility, Lugar, Voinovich and Domenici Do Not

Apocalypse Now

Hard Rain Journal 7-7-07: Lt. Gen. Odom Has Credibility on Iraq, Lugar, Voinovich and Domenici Do Not

By Richard Power

The US mainstream news media has heralded recent remarks in which senior Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN), George Voinovich (R-OH) and Pete Domenici (R-AZ) seemingly broken with the Bush-Cheney regime on Iraq, and called for a change of course, i.e., pulling back to base and drawing down the number of US troops.

I say "seemingly" because these remarks will only become significant if they are substantiated by votes on the floor of the Senate. Several Republican Senators have spoken out against the Bush-Cheney regime on Iraq, but subsequently either voted in support of Bush-Cheney policy, or only voted against it knowing the measure under consideration would be defeated.

Whenever such remarks are reported, a graphic should accompany the story -- it should cite the number US military deaths since the most recent opportunity to change course. In the instance of Sens. Lugar, Voinovich and Domenici, the most recent opportunity was less than two months ago; and in the interim, hundreds of men and women of the US military have lost their lives in the slaughterhouse of Iraq.

Sen. Lugar knows better. He is one of the senior most Republicans in the US Senate on issues of foreign policy and national security. If he had been President, he never would have followed this tragic course. Why was he silent for so long?

Unlike Lugar, Voinovich and Domenici, Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), who served as Ronald Reagan's NSA director, has been one of our most insightful and credible opponents of the foolish military adventure in Iraq for the last several years.

Consider two Words of Power posts, one from 2005, Words of Power #8: Odom and Wilkerson Bear Witness, and one from 2006, Hard Rain Journal 11-19-06: Courage and Clarity of Mind on Iraq and Iran -- "We must cut and run tactically in order to succeed strategically".

Before serving as Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988, Lt. Gen. Odom served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer from 1981 to 1985. Prior to that, he was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski from 1977 to 1981.

Why were Sens. Lugar, Voinovich and Domenici silent for so long?

Here is an excerpt from Odom's most recent statement, with a link to the full text:

If the Democrats truly want to succeed in forcing President Bush to begin withdrawing from Iraq, the first step is to redefine "supporting the troops" as withdrawing them, citing the mass of accumulating evidence of the psychological as well as the physical damage that the president is forcing them to endure because he did not raise adequate forces. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress could confirm this evidence and lay the blame for "not supporting the troops" where it really belongs – on the president. And they could rightly claim to the public that they are supporting the troops by cutting off the funds that he uses to keep U.S. forces in Iraq.
The public is ahead of the both branches of government in grasping this reality, but political leaders and opinion makers in the media must give them greater voice.
Congress clearly and indisputably has two powers over the executive: the power of the purse and the power to impeach. Instead of using either, members of congress are wasting their time discussing feckless measures like a bill that "de-authorizes the war in Iraq." That is toothless unless it is matched by a cut-off of funds.
The president is strongly motivated to string out the war until he leaves office, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the defeat he has caused and persisted in making greater each year for more than three years.
To force him to begin a withdrawal before then, the first step should be to rally the public by providing an honest and candid definition of what "supporting the troops" really means and pointing out who is and who is not supporting our troops at war. The next step should be a flat refusal to appropriate money for to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion.
The final step should be to put that president on notice that if ignores this legislative action and tries to extort Congress into providing funds by keeping U.S. forces in peril, impeachment proceeding will proceed in the House of Representatives. Such presidential behavior surely would constitute the "high crime" of squandering the lives of soldiers and Marines for his own personal interest.

Lt. Gen. William Odom, US Army retired, 'Supporting the troops' means withdrawing them, Nieman Watchdog, 7-5-07

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