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Break the War Funding Deadlock: The Iraq Apology Amendment

November 16, 2007

One day after the House approved an Iraq war funding bill mandating American troop withdrawals, Republicans blocked a similar measure in the Senate. With GOP intransigence and a certain veto from President Bush leading to a high-stakes showdown they seem destined to lose, Democrats need a different strategy - at least for now. One way forward is to give President Bush the money for his fiasco in Iraq with no strings attached save one: he must apologize for it. Call it the Iraq Apology Amendment.
The strategy is simple. President Bush can have the money for his disaster in Iraq only by accepting full and unambiguous responsibility for it. Like the current House bill, Bush would get $50 billion in war funding for the next four months. But unlike the "Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act" in the House, Democrats would not require the timeline quid pro quo mandating U.S. military withdrawals starting 30 days after passage and ending by December 15, 2008. Instead, the President would merely have to accept blame for "Bush's War."
Bush's act of presidential contrition could take the form of an Iraq Apology Amendment along the following lines:

Whereas President Bush knowingly manipulated intelligence assessments of the threat posed to United States by Iraq; whereas the President and his representatives misled the American people about the Iraqi regime's nuclear threat and its alliance with Al Qaeda based on known forgeries and information coerced by torture; whereas President Bush ignored the warnings of his generals regarding the troop strength and resources needed for the occupation of Iraq; whereas President Bush and his administration disregarded the assessments of U.S. intelligence agencies regarding the almost certain prospects of insurgency, sectarian strife and civil war following an American invasion of Iraq; whereas the President irreversibly damaged global esteem for the United States and its people through his regime of torture at Abu Ghraib and secret prisons around the world; whereas through his duplicity, intransigence and incompetence President Bush has severely undermined the preparedness of the United States armed forces to meet future threats; whereas through his diversion of resources to Iraq President Bush allowed America's true adversary Al Qaeda to reconstitute itself in its safe haven in Pakistan; and whereas the President has jeopardized American national security for all of the reasons cited above, President Bush accepts complete and total responsibility for the war in Iraq and apologizes to the American people for needlessly sacrificing the lives of its service men and women and placing the security of the United States at risk.

The Iraq Apology Amendment gives President Bush both something he wants and something he needs. Bush would get the money he seeks for his not so excellent adventure in Iraq. But he also would get vital help in doing something he seems chronically incapable of doing: admitting error. The same man who proclaimed himself a "war president" in Feburary 2004 could not two months later think of any mistakes he had made ("maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one "). And just three days ago, Bush refused to address a question from Fox News about his "greatest error," instead declaring, "Success, there’s been a lot."
The Iraq Apology Amendment, of course, doesn't bring the end of the war in Iraq - or the return of our troops - any closer. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is certainly correct that "We ought to extricate American men and women...from refereeing a civil war" and that "the American people voted for change."
But President Bush and his allies in Congress remain steadfast in preventing just that change. And until Democrats can secure the needed votes to end the calamity that is President Bush's War, they at least need to make certain he takes ownership of it. (Even a presidential signing statement can't make that go away). Being Republican may mean never having to say you're sorry. With the 2008 elections around the corner, it's time for that to change.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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