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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analsysis: On Iraq, the Gauntlet is Thrown

Council on Foreign Relations

March 28, 2007
Prepared by: Robert McMahon

After years of facing relatively few obstacles to his Iraq policies from the legislative branch, President George W. Bush now confronts dual resolutions (WashPost) from both chambers of Congress demanding an end to combat operations there sometime next year. The Senate on Tuesday moved toward setting a March 31, 2008 deadline for ending U.S. combat operations in Iraq. That measure is still not as strong as the previous week’s House bill imposing deadlines for troop withdrawals, which the Christian Science Monitor called “one of the toughest antiwar measures ever passed during ongoing combat.” The president has vowed to veto either legislation. But it definitively ends a period that began with a vote in 2002 to grant Bush broad warmaking powers during which Congress has deferred to the executive on such issues.

The president and his mostly Republican supporters have argued the “surge” of over twenty thousand new U.S. troops into the country has not had time to prove itself, with only half of the forces deployed. Bush on Wednesday delivered his most extensive description of progress in surge operations since the strategy went into force two months ago, saying the consequences of legislation with a timetable for pullout would be disastrous. “Our enemies in Iraq would simply have to mark their calendars,” Bush said. An update from Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service says Baghdad’s death rate is down (PDF), but bombings in “belts” around the capital and area provinces like Diyalah are up. The latest large-scale attack, in Tal Afar, prompted vicious Shiite reprisals (Times Online) against Sunnis in a town that Bush once held up as a model of the progress made in stabilizing Iraq.

Democrats calling for a troop withdrawal have been buoyed by consistently negative public-opinion polling on the war.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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