By Steve Gilliard, News Blog
The fact is that $87 billion is a lot of money. Enough money to get people to pay attention.
While Congress will support the troops, what is going to happen is that people will flip when they realize that the money is a downpayment. The money we're giving for Iraqi reconstruction is not nearly enough. We may spend $20b, but when Congress gets finished, it may be far, far less. Which will be a pitance. The American taxpayer expects our allies to chip in. When they refuse to, and they will, at least to the degree we expect, the awful truth will stare us all in the face. We invaded Iraq and we will have to fix it.
Of course, the best way to undermine this whole effort is to ramp up the violence.
The Iraqis know the best way to prevent more troops from being deployed is to kill and wound more of them. I cannot imagine the Indians or Turks actually sending troops, given their history in Iraq. Their governments are leaving the US on the hook while they figure a way out.
But most importantly, it will take months for this money to get out of Congress. All of this will and we have no time for this. We should have been doing this in June. Now, the clock is running and the US is on the defensive.
While everyone says they want to support the president, anyone who thinks the hearings are going to be a wink and a nod are going to be quite unhappy. The questions Bush's secretaries will have to answer include:
* Who is the enemy?
* Why have Iraqis refused to support the CPA?
* What is to be done with Iraqi debt?
* How much will it cost to equip and standardize the Iraqi Army and security forces?
* What level of contribution can we expect from the EU for reconstruction?
* Which allies will contribute troops?
* How close are we to capturing Saddam?
And this excludes anything about oil or WMD, which will be the cause of their very own hearings.
When the Congress finds that this request will not cover a tenth of the costs of Iraqi reconstruction and that we could be on the hook for $200 billion alone to rebuild the Iraqi economy, this request will take a very different shape.
Every attack makes the request that more difficult to grant, especially when it's targeted at infrastructure. When they blow more pipelines and transformers, that's just adding to the bill. Also, the Halliburton contracts will be a major source of controversy as well.
Bush is asking for enoug money for people to notice. If he can't cross every t and dot every i, it will be nibbled to death in the House and Senate. Voting for this bill will help no member keep their seat.
The President broke faith with Congress in 2002. He used his stature as commander in chief to manipulate this issue and now it will come back on him. Even Republicans want answers. Also lingering in the air is the total boggling of Homeland Security as well as the altering of the EPA report on Lower Manhattan air quality after 9/11. Getitng this request through will not be easy or simple and while Congress is arguing, the iraqi resistance will be blowing things up and assassinating people.
Clearly, a high ranking American will be on the target list. Which could cut two ways. If Bremer or Sanchez or one of the division commanders is killed, that would demonstrate a deep American weakness. After all, the assassins are willing to kill and wound hundreds to get one man. They may very well do this again. Rumors in Iraq are that the SAM attacks on the C-17 were not random, but an assassination attempt against Rumsfeld. They may have missed, but they were trying hard. And that the UN and police bombings were attacks against Bremer and Kerik.
An assassination of an American official might gain more support for the US, but it might also kill any real chance of international support. It also makes sense to think one of the more poorly trained international units will be targeted for terrorism. It is likely that the Spanish will be targeted because of the reaction to the death of a Spanish officer. Kill a Spanish platoon and the whole "coalition of the willing" could start to collapse as the demands they come home explode.
The Bush Administration is playing checkers against opponents playing 3D chess. They read the papers, follow the news and then pick their targets. Anyone whining about how negative the coverage is misses the point. It's not the coverage, it's the facts. And unlike the first war, Iraqis can tell us exactly what they think and how they feel without American reporters in the way.
Reprinted from Steve Gilliard's News Blog:
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