Warner And Lugar Aren't Waiting For September
A day after Bush told Congress to stay out telling him what to do in Iraq, two leading GOP senators rebuffed him and introduced a bill that would require the president to present to Congress a change in mission by October and to begin implementing it by 2008. In essence, John Warner and Richard Lugar are blowing past whatever General Petraeus may say in September and are telling Bush he will be changing course a month after Petraeus’s report.
The Warner-Lugar proposal states that "American military and diplomatic strategy in Iraq must adjust to the reality that sectarian factionalism is not likely to abate anytime soon and probably cannot be controlled from the top."
Accordingly, Warner and Lugar say Bush must draft a plan for U.S. troops that would keep them from "policing the civil strife or sectarian violence in Iraq" and focus them instead on protecting Iraq's borders, targeting terrorists and defending U.S. assets.
The legislation the pair is working on would direct Bush to present the new strategy to Congress by Oct. 16 and begin implementing it by Dec. 31.
But Warner and Lugar didn’t stop there. They took a page from Hillary Clinton’s book.
The proposal also would seek to make Bush renew the authorization for war that Congress gave him in 2002. Many members contend that authorization — which led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 — was limited to approval of deposing dictator Saddam Hussein and searching for weapons of mass destruction.
Although it may be easy to dismiss whatever Warner and Lugar are doing today given their past willingness to cave in to Bush, it still is a powerful signal that they did this a day after he told Congress to wait until September.
This comes on the same day that the Pentagon announced the number of battle-ready and independent Iraqi battalions has actually fallen from 10 to 6. It also happened after Tony Snow admitted that the Iraqi parliament plans to take August off.