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On the third day of the debate over a nonbinding resolution on Iraq in the House of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats clash over whether the measure amounts to a vote of no-confidence in the troops.
Another possibility, opponents of the resolution say, is that it could embolden America's enemies.
But supporters of the measure say that it is necessary to send a message to the White House that U.S. policy in Iraq must change.
The resolution disapproves of President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, but it also seeks to express support for the American troops who are already deployed.
Thursday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said that President Bush and his advisers aren't living in the real world.
"Tragically, the president and his administration are dealing with an Iraq that exists only in their imagination," Schakowsky said.
President Bush has said that resolution or no, he's going ahead with his plan to add 21,500 American troops to Iraq. In fact, the so-called troop "surge" has already begun, as has a campaign to secure Baghdad.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) called for sticking with the president's plan in Iraq until the country has a stable and functional democratic government.
"Believe me, there are consequences to losing the war, and these are real," Cole said. "If we are not successful in Iraq, we will have an emboldened enemy. Not just the terrorists that we deal with — they're bad enough — but also the states that use terrorism as a tool of diplomacy. States like Iran, states like Syria, will draw comfort."
But Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) disputed that idea, and laid the blame for escalating violence on the White House, which he said took the wrong course after Sept. 11, 2001.
"The central front on the war on terrorism was largely abandoned by President Bush in his ideological rush to invade Iraq," Doggett said. "Vital resources and expertise that were needed to capture Osama bin Laden and the terrorists who caused 9/11 were cut in Afghanistan when President Bush ran into Iraq."
But supporting the current resolution is tantamount to admitting failure and defeat, said Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), who urged anyone who supports the measure to go even further than it does — and work to cut funding for the war. The best option, Crenshaw said, is to support President Bush's plan for a larger U.S. military presence.
"It may not be perfect and, quite frankly, it may not work, but it's there," Crenshaw said. "And every American, Democrats and Republicans alike, ought to hope this plan succeeds. Because it may very well be our last, best chance to prevent a catastrophic failure in Iraq."
Debate over the House resolution will continue for most of Friday. With seemingly unanimous support of the majority-party Democrats and some Republicans who have spoken in favor of the measure, it is expected to be approved when a vote is held, either late Friday or over the weekend.