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Security Politics

Not surprisingly, Cheney's tone in talking about Iraq was much more combative during his CNN interview yesterday than Bush's was on Tuesday night.  Cheney criticized the media for allegedly focusing too much on bad news coming out of Iraq, and noted that there have been "enormous successes" in the war.  

USA Today on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on the resolution opposing a troop increase yesterday: "The four-hour committee debate produced far more consensus than the roll call indicated, exposing deep misgivings in both parties about Bush's plans.  Only Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said he backed the president's policy...  Other Republicans who opposed the resolution made it plain their vote should not be interpreted as support for Bush's plan...  In order to pass the Senate, any anti-war resolution may need 60 votes: Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is threatening a filibuster." 

"While some lawmakers and antiwar activists have dismissed the resolution as largely meaningless, senior Republicans and White House officials have worked furiously to minimize Republican defections, worried that a large, bipartisan vote would have significant political and international repercussions," reports the Washington Post

While he admits that his bill tracks closely with the one approved yesterday in the Foreign Relations Committee, GOP Sen. John Warner said he crafted his own bill because the other one was "disturbing too many people" in its partisan tone, NBC's Strickland reports.  The measure has 10 sponsors so far: four Republicans and six Democrats.  The key language states, "the Senate disagrees with the 'plan' to augment our forces by 21,500 and urges the President instead to consider all options and alternatives..."

A Republican leadership aide opposed to the resolutions called the Warner measure "bad for us."  Because Warner is a former Armed Services chair and carries substantial credibility within military circles, other Senate Republicans would be inclined to support him and vote against Bush, Strickland says, and because it still rejects the troops increase, it would garner Democratic support, as well.

The New York Times says that yesterday's Foreign Relations vote has set up perhaps the "most direct confrontation over the war since it began nearly four years ago."  More: "The Foreign Relations Committee tends to carry a more centrist outlook than the Senate as a whole, but Democrats say they believe that at least 8 of the 49 Republicans might join with nearly all Democrats in embracing a resolution - Mr. Biden's or Mr. Warner's - critical of the president's troop increase plan."  

The Washington Post reports that the Administration is paying attention to the increasing violence in Afghanistan, "preparing a series of new military, economic and political initiatives aimed partly at preempting an expected offensive this spring by Taliban insurgents...  Even as it trumpeted a change of course in Iraq this month, the White House has completed a review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan" and "will ask Congress for $7 billion to $8 billion in new funds for security, reconstruction and other projects in Afghanistan as part of the upcoming budget package." 

Prime Minister Tony Blair was busy yesterday resisting calls to withdraw British forces from Iraq by October and dodging rhetorical bullets in Parliament.