Stop Playing Politics With the War on Lebanon

The Senate and House are playing politics with the war on Lebanon and I can't be silent.

First came the shameful, bi-partisan, one-sided resolutions passed by both Houses of Congress, which gave total support to Israel's onslaught against Lebanon, expressing barely a concern for the hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians killed or the devastation to that country's infrastructure.

Piling insult on this injury, Senate and House Democrats have insisted that the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki embrace Congress's pro-Israel stance. Should he fail to do so, they pressured Speaker Hastert to withdraw his invitation to have al-Maliki address Congress, or force a boycott of his speech.

What they objected to were al Maliki's statements made last week in Iraq in which he urged the international community "to take a quick and firm stance to stop this [Israeli] aggression against Lebanon, to stop the killing of innocent people and to stop the destruction of infrastructure." Al-Maliki said, "[w]hat is happening is an operation of mass destruction and mass punishment and an operation using great force that Israel has--
and Lebanon does not."

In letters to al-Maliki, Democratic members of both Houses called on the Iraqi Prime Minister to rethink his condemnation of Israel and to join them in denouncing Hezbollah.

What these Senators and Congressmen ignored was the strong domestic opposition al-Maliki faced before coming to the US. As Iraqi Shia watched their coreligionists being run over in Lebanon, many Iraqis wanted the Prime Minister to cancel his visit.

Like it or not we have 130,000 troops in the middle of a dangerous civil conflict, compliments of President Bush and, I might add, weak-kneed Democrats who refused to oppose this war.

Before it started, I warned of the dangerous consequences of sending troops into a country whose history we did not know and whose politics and culture we did not care to understand. Well, here we are guys.

It is a bizarre fantasy, borne of their unconscionable ignorance, to expect the Iraqi Prime Minister to become on ally of Israel. And it is downright shameful for Chuck Schumer to say, "Before [al-Maliki] speaks before Congress and the American people, we ask him which side is he on in the war on terror."

Asking al-Maliki to repudiate his comments would have seriously eroded his ability to lead Iraq during these difficult times. Canceling al-Maliki's speech would have been seen as an insult in Iraq with potentially grave consequences. We should not be playing politics with 130,000 US troops at risk when al-Maliki's country is being torn apart by terrorism.

Despite the political posturing, the Prime Minister's speech was not cancelled.