Thursday, January 11, 2007

Letter from Howard Dean, MD, Chairperson of he DNC:

Last night, George Bush plans announce that he wants to send tens of thousands more troops to Iraq.

The American people oppose it. The generals, both active-duty and retired, say that it won't help. But George Bush thinks he can do it anyway.

He's got another thing coming.

We believe the Democratic Congress must have the opportunity to review and approve the troop increase in Iraq.

Whether you agree with a policy of escalation or not, Congress's involvement is fundamental to our democratic process. The people's representatives must consent to sending troops and spending money -- particularly on something as controversial as sending tens of thousands more troops into the middle of a civil war.

Unlike the way we got into this war, America must have a real conversation about how to end it. Congress finally asserting its constitutional authority is the only way that conversation will happen.

Why should Congress have to be consulted?

Because this is a new level of engagement in Iraq, far different than anything the Congress has authorized to date.

Whatever you felt about that Iraq vote in 2002, it's impossible to deny that the situation now has deteriorated and the president's policies have continually failed. We now know that the administration's claims about WMD stockpiles and Saddam's ties to al Qaeda were false. We also that the regime we went in to depose is long gone.

We've been fighting in Iraq for longer than we fought in World War II. There is a full-blown civil war there. And Saddam is dead.

The American people, through their elected representatives, deserve a voice in the decision to send tens of thousands more troops there.


Congressional oversight may seem strange to the pundits who have gotten used to a Republican-led group that barely showed up to work and didn't take its constitutional responsibilities seriously.

But there's plenty of precedent for it.

In the 1970's Congress passed laws to stop Richard Nixon from expanding the Vietnam War into Cambodia and, later, to cap the number of personnel allowed in Vietnam in order to force the administration to wind down the war.

In the 1980's Congress required Ronald Reagan to seek explicit authorization if he planned to expand U.S. forces in Lebanon and capped the number of troops on permanent duty elsewhere in the world.

Congress has the constitutional duty to represent the people, and the new Democratic Congress is prepared to live up to that responsibility.


I opposed this war from the beginning. But no matter how you felt then, it's clear that the president's policy has failed.

Last year's elections were a referendum on Iraq, and the president lost.

Ignoring the lessons of history by increasing troop levels is not an answer to the problems in Iraq. Nor is blaming the military for the President's own mistakes an answer, or ignoring the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Commission recommendations, including an emphasis on diplomacy. And ignoring the will of the American people is certainly not an answer.

The people made their voices heard, and if the president isn't going to listen, the Democratic Congress will.

Democrats in Congress heard the people loud and clear in 2006. In 2007, they are ready to act.

Let's join them.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

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