Last night, congressional Democrats settled on an agreement “to ignore President Bush’s veto threat and send him a $124 billion war spending bill that orders the administration to begin pulling troops out of Iraq,” with a final withdrawal goal of October 1, 2007.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) attacked the plan this morning on CNN, claiming it was “the first time I know of — in the middle of a war — that a country just announces that on a specific date it’s walking off the battlefield.” He added, “[I]t’s almost as if Americans want to say that we’re failing before our troops have a chance to get the job done.” Watch it:
Kyl doesn’t mention that on two separate occasions during the Clinton administration, he voted explicitly in favor of setting “a specific date” for American troops to “walk off the battlefield”:
— In June 1998, Kyl voted in favor of amending the National Defense Authorization Act for FY1999 to “require the President to submit Congress a plan for withdrawing United States forces from Bosnia and Herzegovina if the Congress does not so act by March 31, 1999.”
— In May 2000, Kyl voted against removing a provision from Military Construction Appropriations Act of 2001 that struck provisions requiring that President Bill Clinton withdraw all U.S. ground forces from Kosovo by July 1, 2001.
ROBERTS: Congress could begin voting tomorrow on the $124 billion war-spending bill, which orders a phased pullout of U.S. troops. All of it sets up a showdown with President Bush. Joining us now to talk about it is Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona. Senator Kyl, thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.
First of all, what’s your impression of the bill that the Democrats have crafted and will be handing to the president later on this week?
KYL: Well, in some respects it’s worse than the original bill because it still has deadlines and times for pullouts. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether the Iraqis meet the benchmarks that are set forth in the bill or not, we still have to begin pulling out our troops in October, and the goal is to have them out by next year.
So it’s the first time I know of in the middle of a war that a country just announces that on a specific date it’s walking off the battlefield.
ROBERTS: Congressman John Murtha joined us a little earlier this morning, senator. I asked him if he thought that the surge had failed or if there were some signs of progress. Here’s what he said in response to that. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN P. MURTHA, D-PA.: I think the surge has failed. I think there was no possibility that it was going to work. I think the British had 130,000 people there 20–50 years ago — well, it was 80 years ago, and they only had 2.5 million people in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Senator Kyl, do you agree? Has the surge failed?
KYL: Well, he’s looking back 50 or 80 years ago. I’m not sure which.
General Petraeus is going to be here tomorrow. I suggest that my colleagues, this time, come to the meeting where General Petraeus will be there to brief us and tell us what he thinks is happening on the ground. After all, he’s the one we sent over there, confirmed unanimously, to carry out the mission.
Also, bear in mind that only about half of the additional troops that we are going to be sending to Baghdad and Anbar province have actually arrived. So I think it’s a little premature to say that it’s failed. I mean, it’s almost as if Americans want to say that we’re failing before our troops have a chance to get the job done.