Iraq sends lobbyists to influence Congress

Desperate Iraqi officials, worried the United States might pull out and let them fight their civil war on their own, dispatched lobbyists to Capitol Hill this week to try and convince Congress to waste more American lives and taxpayer money to fund President George W. Bush's failed war.

The effort comes as public sentiment against the war continues to mount and Bush faces rebellion within GOP ranks over his war policies.

Writes Ann Flaherty of The Associated Press:

Worried Congress' support for Iraq is deteriorating rapidly, Baghdad dispatched senior officials to Capitol Hill this week to warn members one-on-one that pulling out U.S. troops would have disastrous consequences.

The lobbying push targeted Republicans and Democrats alike, but focused primarily on those considered influential on the war debate. On Thursday, hours before the House voted to limit funds for the war, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh met with more than 30 House Republicans and more than a half-dozen senators, including Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., John Warner, R-Va., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

"He understands that American patience is waning," said Sen. Norm Coleman, after eating lunch with Saleh, Iraqi Ambassador Samir Shakir al-Sumaidaie and Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Baghdad's ability to sell members like Coleman, R-Minn., and Chambliss, R-Ga., on the war effort is critical if the Iraqi government wants U.S. troops to stay. Coleman in recent months has become deeply skeptical of the president's decision to send additional troops to Iraq and says patience on the war in general is limited.

Chambliss and Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., who met separately with Saleh, will be up for re-election next year — facing voters who have grown tired of a war in its fifth year and that has killed more than 3,380 troops. While Republicans have been reluctant to intervene, many say President Bush has until September to tell if the troop buildup in Iraq is working before they demand another approach.

With the clock ticking, Saleh — a Kurdish politician highly regarded by U.S. officials and who speaks impeccable English — said he came to Capitol Hill to convey the "imperative of success" in Iraq.

"Iraq is a central battleground in this historic conflict" against terrorism, he said in a brief interview after meeting with Reid, the Senate majority leader.

His trip came on the heels of a visit by Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, along with three other senior advisers, according to the Iraqi embassy. The New York Times first reported al-Rubaie's visit on Tuesday.

The timing of these meetings is no mistake. This month, Congress is expected to send Bush legislation that funds the war in Iraq but requires the Baghdad government meet certain political and security reforms. In question is what consequences the Iraqis should face if they fail. Democrats want U.S. troops to leave, Republicans say they don't want to force redeployments, but some say they would be open to withholding more than $5 billion in foreign aid.

The House voted 221-205 Thursday for a stronger measure that would fund the war only through July, giving Congress the option of cutting off money after that. The bill is unlikely to survive in the Senate, although it indicates the war's unpopularity among members and their frustration with the lack of progress in the Iraqi parliament.

The most recent irritant among U.S. lawmakers was a report that Iraqi officials would break for two months this summer.


  1. Steve Horn

    The people of Iraq existed under a dictatorship for a very long time. They seem to have no concept of self governance, no concept of how to decide things for themselves and no apparent ability to compromise between their relegious sects, hence the pervasive sectarian violence.

    We are providing what is, in my mind, a mercenary force in an attempt to impose order within a chaotic nation. The invasion was a mistake, the killing of Saddam was a mistake and the attempt to impose self governance on a socially immature nation was a compounding mistake.

    So now our government gets to be the whores of Iraq – in exchange for the promise of oil, we’re willing to sell ourselves, our nation, the lives and blood of our youth, to this group of miscreants.

    Pull out of Iraq – force them to take responsibility for thier own future – if they want a free state, they’ll create one. If they wish to once again be under a dictator, under an iron-fist rule, then that’s what will come around. But it’s up to Iraq, not the United States, not the UK, not the UN and not Israel to decide this fate –

    We’ve spilled enough blood – time has come to tell Iraq to stand up for itself.



  2. Electric Bill

    The Iraqis have certainly found our weakness, money. Chambliss and Coleman are no better than street whores. I believe it was P.J. O’Rourke who wrote something to the effect that in a society where the legislature regulates the buying and selling of goods, the first things that will inevitably be bought and sold are the legislators themselves.

  3. gene

    We (this nation) could stay in Iraq another hundred years and nothing would change. These assholes are just worried about their jobs and mabe their lives…..good reason too. Democracy is not compatible with the Arab world for the most part. America is their for basically ONE reason…..OIL!! its called being able to drive my seven thousand pound road tank to pick up my stupid, spoiled kidds at school because they refuse to ride the school bus.

    Welcome to America, land of plenty………..plenty of brain dead idiots hidding in their suburbian mansions

  4. KayInMaine

    Georgie & his band of warmongering thieves sure are teaching the Iraqis how to act like them in a democracy, huh? Whew. Eventually, they’ll teach the Iraqis that the only way to combat white collared corruption is to have more of it! Can’t wait for that day. *shudder* This will be the sign that Georgie’s illegal occupation has been won. *rolling eyes*