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Condemned to repeat it
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Why Democrats object to discussing foreign policy in the '02 elections I have no idea—well, I do have some suspicions—but EJ Dionne has a solution to the pesky problem of history. Change it!
The big difference between our current president and his father is that the first President Bush put off the debate over the Persian Gulf War until after the 1990 midterm elections. The result was one of most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation.
How is this wrong? Let me count the ways:

On August 6, 1990, President Bush deployed "U.S. armed forces to defend Saudi Arabia in an operation named Operation Desert Shield."

President George HW Bush didn't "put off the debate". He'd already decided: "in October 1990 [Bush] settled on military action if Iraq's troops had not left Kuwait by the 15 January 1991 deadline."

Congress proposed numerous bills regarding the forthcoming Gulf War prior to the November elections, including...
  • H.J.RES.658 [09/27/1990]
    Title: To support actions the President has taken with respect to Iraqi aggression against Kuwait and to demonstrate United States resolve.

  • H.CON.RES.382 [10/10/1990]
    Title: Expressing the sense of the Congress that the crisis created by Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait must be addressed and resolved on its own terms separately from other conflicts in the region.

Oh, and finally—because it seems relevant, and because EJ Dionne doesn't sully his column with this kind of thing—it's worth noting that Democrats called for a public pre-election debate on the Iraq issue. Recall the Feinstein-Leahy resolution, about which Patrick Leahy said:
For the good of the country and for the long-term success of whatever approach we take, President Bush should follow his father’s lead and support a vigorous and constructive debate on Iraq. ... There should be a full debate and a vote. That is what the Constitution prescribes, and that is what the American people expect.
In 2002, they demanded Bush make the case for war to their face. Today, they've retreated to "not in the face!"
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Previous Comments to this Post 

OK, Jon, this revision busting biz is starting to look like a 19-3 baseball.
Written By: D
URL: http://
Just because they are starting to whine again is no time to let up. No puppy likes to have their nose rubbed in their stink. But, just because they begin to whimper is not a reason to not do rub their noses in it.
Written By: M.H.
URL: http://
And a unified nation???? Wasn’t the vote for the first Gulf War something like 52-48? Hardly "unified," to use Dionne’s word.
Written By: Mark
and this part’s bogus, too "unified nation":

Resolution BARELY passed the Senate (52-47), passed the House a little more comfortably but was bitterly denounced by its leaders (Foley, Gephardt, Bonior, etc.)

speaker after Dem speaker got up & said how Bush was "rushing" a "divided nation" to war

and don’t forget the little farcical Wellstone-Harkin-Dellums "lawsuit" trying to get the courts to block Bush’s deployment, calling it "illegal," etc.

Deja vu all over again
Written By: George
URL: http://
ooooo Instalanche!
Written By: Shinobi
E.J. is speaking about Operation Desert Storm, which began in January of 1991.

"16 January 1991: The White House announced the commencement of Operation Desert Storm: offensive action against the forces of Iraq under the provisions of U.N Security Council/U.S. Congressional resolutions."

Might want to read those web pages you link to before commenting on them.
Written By: M. Glutton
E.J. is speaking about Operation Desert Storm, which began in January of 1991.
Yes, I’m well aware of that. Operation Desert Shield was the precursor, which built up US military presence in the area. The White House "announced" Operation Desert Storm on January 16 because that was the first day after the end of the UNSC-Res 678 mandated period for Iraq to withdraw.

Debate over how to deal with Iraq preceded that date by quite some time.
Written By: Jon Henke
"Might want to read those web pages you link to before commenting on them."

You might want to learn to read in the first place, Glutton (obviously for punishment).

We’re talking about the timing of the debate on the war, not the day the troops rolled across the border.
Written By: Bill Quick
E.J.’s point is that the decision to ask for authorization from the Senate in Operation Desert Storm was made after the midterms in January, not before. In Bush’s case, he forced the Senate authorization before midterms.

This isn’t changing history. The larger point that E.J. is talking about is how Dubya forced a partisan debate and Iraq vote before the elections so there would be more political pressure on Democrats.

Mr. Quick: Ah, name-calling. The last refuge of those without good arguments.

Written By: M. Glutton
Shut up, M. Glutton, you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about

TOM DASCHLE, the Senate MAJORITY leader at the time, "rushed" the Senate debate in Fall ’02 (3 days in length), so that his vulnerable Dems wouldn’t be "exposed." and no one objected, other than Byrd & Kennedy. Resoultion got 78 votes in Sen., pretty close to a consensus.

yes, neither Pres. Bush wanted much in the way of a congressional debate, true. Spurious dilemma for EJ to pose them as OPPOSITES on this question. typical leftist cheapshot to bogusly offer the Old Man to refute the Younger.

Either way, EJ has not much of a point. nor does his mouthpiece, M. Glutton
Written By: George
URL: http://
"more political pressure on the democrats"....

Is that good? Is that bad?


This being a republic, it appears that the plan all along was that the elected representatives be subject to political pressure from time to time.

Is the problem that the dems wouldn’t have voted for war (either one) if they weren’t worried about the voters? If they changed their vote from one of conscience to one of expediency, isn’t that a good thing—representing their constituents and all? After all, who knows where those nasty little consciences might lead if there were no check.
Written By: Richard Aubrey
URL: http://
Well, that explains a lot. Glutton apparently votes in January and not November like the rest of us.

Silly glutton.
Written By: Hoystory
Politicians forced by circumstances to declare what they really believe? That should happen every single day. No honest person would want it any different.
Written By: Jonathan
URL: http://
Sorry guys, Glutton has it right. The decision to send troops to guard Saudi Arabia’s border is not equivalent to the decision to actually launch an attack, which was put off until after the midterms in the case of the first Gulf war.

There was also the matter of some careful international diplomacy, the obtaining of support from the UN, an d a broad based international coalition including Iraq’s Arab neighbours.

All in all a sharp contrast to Bush II’s "f*** you" approach to coalition building and bi-partisanship.
Written By: A Hermit
URL: http://
The decision to send troops to guard Saudi Arabia’s border is not equivalent to the decision to actually launch an attack, which was put off until after the midterms in the case of the first Gulf war.
""in October 1990 [Bush] settled on military action if Iraq’s troops had not left Kuwait by the 15 January 1991 deadline".

Moreover, this isn’t about the final decision. That was entirely dependent upon the UNSC schedule. The debate in Congress was ongoing well before the 90 elections (as the legislation indicates), and the ’02 debate was, at least in part, precipitated by Democratic demands to bring the debate to Congress.
Written By: Jon Henke
I don’t know about the bipartisan part Hermit, but, seriously, do you really think that any amount of time, or any amount of buttering up, would have gotten France, Germany, Canada, or some of the larger muslin countries, to join the coalition?
Written By: Mr. Brian
URL: http://
Of course Hermit doesn’t believe that.
He can make a complete sentence. Therefore he’s too smart to believe that stuff.

But it’s what they say.

There are two reasons. The rest of us might just get tired of responding to the infinite number of misrepresentations and just quit. That counts as a victory. The other is that some poor soul lost from a group home might stumble across this crap and actually believe. That would count as a victory.

But don’t insult Hermit by being unsure if he’s so stupid as to believe that. It’s not nice.
Written By: Richard Aubrey
URL: http://

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