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Security politics


The New York Times reports that Iraqis are saying Bush's controversial troop increase set the stage for the single-worst suicide bombing of the war.  "The critics said the new plan, which the Americans have started to execute, had emasculated the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia that is considered responsible for many attacks on Sunnis, but that many Shiites say had been the only effective deterrent against sectarian reprisal attacks in Baghdad's Shiite neighborhoods." 

The Los Angeles Times says that even though passage of the non-binding resolution wouldn't directly affect the course of the war in any tangible way, "the immense symbolism of what may be the first formal rebuke of Bush's war strategy has produced the most passionate war debate on Capitol Hill since the invasion of Iraq...  At its core is a furious argument over what the challenge really means - not just to the president, but to the military, to the Iraqi government and to America's enemies and allies in the Middle East and elsewhere." 

The San Francisco Chronicle calls the debate over the non-binding resolution "a case study in how difficult it is for Congress to challenge even a weak president on a deeply unpopular war." 

The Washington Post takes its turn looking at how the prospective vote is agonizing some Senate Republicans who are up for re-election in 2008.  They "are loath to say that political calculations could weigh on their votes, but to GOP leaders battling to prevent their members from supporting the resolution against the troop buildup, politics present an unavoidable obstacle." 

GOP Sen. Jon Kyl urges that Bush's troop increase be given a chance to work in a USA Today op-ed.  "Although many have summarily criticized the new strategy, they have contributed no viable plan of their own.  No one has any illusions about the challenges we face, but we will be more likely to succeed if we are unified." 

The Financial Times previews House Government Reform Committee chair Henry Waxman's hearings on government contracts awarded on Iraq.  "The hearings, which begin tomorrow, are expected to mark the beginning of a new phase in which contracting practices are subject to tougher oversight." 

Politico reports that former Iraq coalition administrator Paul Bremer "plans to point to unexpectedly chaotic conditions in post-Saddam Baghdad as he defends his record" in tomorrow's session. 

The Iraq vote is preventing Sen. Joe Biden (D) from making a scheduled trip to New Hampshire today.  At a roundtable last Friday, potential presidential candidate and former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) said he'd vote against the Warner resolution, while candidate and former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) said the resolution doesn't go far enough.