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The American political landscape turned a corner on Friday, February 16, with the House of Representatives voting 246-182 to pass a nonbinding resolution opposing President George W. Bush’s planned troop surge in Iraq. Though it is a symbolic action, with no bearing on the Commander-in-Chief’s decisions or troop commitments, the implications are profound.
The resolution states, “(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and (2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush…to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.”
While the vote mostly followed party lines, 17 Republicans crossed the aisle to approve the resolution. But this relatively small number disappointed some critics of the war, who hoped for a more forceful show of dissatisfaction within the GOP. Only two Democrats broke ranks and opposed the measure.
Debate on a similar resolution in the Senate was blocked by Republicans the next day, but the event in the House is already viewed as the first salvo in a larger battle—one that could become a cloud over the last two years of Mr. Bush’s term. Democratic leaders characterized it as a shift from a “rubber-stamp” Congress—in other words, one that generally approved proposals from the President—to a legislative body that will take a confrontational approach. This resolution could also be the first step toward a binding measure that will affect U.S. funding in Iraq.
From the perspective of soldiers in Iraq, how would hoped-for reinforcements being rescinded affect morale? Also, can a war effort that is broadly opposed at home succeed? And how will the President—after what amounts to a vote of no-confidence—project soft power abroad, and effectively represent America in an increasingly hostile world?
Most importantly, in the long-term picture, how long can a divided government or a divided country stand?
To learn more about what the future of the United States holds, you may wish to read America and Britain in Prophecy.