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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Discontent Simmers over Iraq

Council on Foreign Relations

August 8, 2007
Prepared by: Robert McMahon

In Washington, dialogue between the Bush administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress on funding the Iraq war is on summer hiatus. In Baghdad, Iraqi lawmakers have stopped work for a recess of their own, even as Sunni politicians continue to abandon the government (al-Jazeera). Oddly enough, the only significant talking on Iraq in recent days seems to have involved U.S. and Iranian diplomats, who were reported to have held “frank and serious” (FT) discussions in Baghdad on August 6. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is following up that meeting with security talks in Iran (BBC).

Democratic congressional leaders made it clear before lawmakers left Capitol Hill in early August that they were committed to linking timelines on troop withdrawals to future Iraq war funding. The House passed a Pentagon spending bill for the fiscal year beginning October 1 that defers (CQ) for now spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. House Democrats will return in September with plans that could feature a war supplemental bill that ties in a troop drawdown or limits funding to a six-month period. On the Senate side, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) ended discussion on the defense spending bill in late July after an attempt to set a timeline of April 2008 for withdrawal from Iraq was defeated. In the process, he cut off votes (LAT) on legislation Republican lawmakers hoped would mildly alter the United States’ course on Iraq.

President Bush has already vetoed a similar attempt by Democrats in the spring to insert withdrawal timelines. But the calculation among Democrats is apparently that Republican discipline will weaken in September in the face of consistently low public approval ratings for the war and an administration status report on Iraq expected to show little progress on Iraqi political goals.

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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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