House opposition to troop surge doesn’t resonate

By Derek Hawkins

Congressional Democrats considered themselves victorious Friday when the House of Representatives passed a resolution opposing President George Bush’s plan to deploy 21,500 new combat troops to Iraq.

“Today we set the stage for a new direction in Iraq,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in a press release. “The passage of this legislation will signal a change in direction in Iraq that will end the fighting and bring our troops home safely and soon.”

The resolution, HR-63, is non-binding, meaning it contains no new policy initiatives and makes no demands of President Bush. It is a purely symbolic gesture designed to publicize congressional opposition to the war.

Despite its approval last week, which involved 17 Republicans breaking ranks to vote with all but two Democrats, the resolution has had little resonance outside the Capitol Hill.

Dan Kennedy, a visiting associate journalism professor, said the resolution gave voice to public dissatisfaction over the war, but doubted it would stop the addition of troops to Iraq.

“It’s difficult to continue a war the public is largely opposed to,” he said. “But it’s also very difficult to stop a president from prosecuting a war that he wants to win.”

For Kennedy, a resolution to restrict military spending in Iraq was unrealistic, but would have carried more weight.

“They can try and cut off funding, but a binding resolution seems too remote,” he said. “It would require wide-scale Republican defection.”

Kennedy said the Democratic margin in the Senate was too narrow for such legislation to make its way through Congress.

Some students, while opposed to more troop deployments to Iraq, said they had little or no knowledge of Friday’s House vote.

“I didn’t know they voted, but I didn’t support sending troops in the first place,” said middler business major Lenin Gutierrez. “Iraqi forces need to help so we can start pulling out.”

Gutierrez also said he would advocate legislation to cut military funding if it would bring troops home.

Chris Boggs, a mechanical engineering graduate student, said he had heard “next to nothing” about the House vote and accused members of Congress of political posturing.

“It’s all very tragic,” he said. “A lot of people’s lives are at stake. But people, some politicians, are using the war as a political platform for the upcoming elections.”

Boggs and other students said their primary concern was preventing troop escalation in Iraq.

“We should be focusing on empowering Iraqis and collaborating with them,” Boggs said. “Sending more men and women is only going to make the region more tense than it already is.”

Freshman chemical engineering major Tatiana Kniazeva said until the situation in Iraq visibly improves, she will remain skeptical of congressional initiatives like Friday’s resolution.

“I want to know that there’s a concrete plan to pull out troops and I want to see proof that it’s being upheld,” she said. “The little progress we’ve made isn’t worth the troops who have died.”

Second Lieutenant Adam Dortona, a Northeastern alumnus and recruiter at the Army ROTC center on campus, said he had heard of HR-63 and that he supported it.

“It gives me confidence that the government is working to find a solution in Iraq,” he said. “I believe it’s important for Congress to put pressure on battlefield commanders when necessary. They should be grilling our generals about why they’re not getting the job done.”

Dortona asked his colleague, Jeremy Wentworth, a Master Sergeant and senior military instructor for Northeastern ROTC, if he was familiar with HR-63.

“Nope, never heard of it,” Wentworth said.

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