The democratic controlledÂ U.S. Senate finallyÂ decided to do something about the war by passingÂ a bill to change warÂ policy through the brilliant idea ofÂ stabilizing IraqÂ throughÂ decentralization ofÂ the countryÂ into semi-autonomous regions.
The non-bindingÂ senate measure which means its more of a polite suggestion then actual legislative demand.Â Â DoesÂ implicitly criticizes the Bush administrationâ€™s reliance on a central government to unify the country, and theÂ vote Wednesday does overwhelmingly callÂ for him to at leastÂ think about considering a decentralization strategy.
TheÂ measure sponsored by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) supports a â€œfederal systemâ€ that would divide Iraq into sectarian-dominated regions and it won unusually broad bipartisan support, passing 75 to 23.  Republicans, [47 ]Democrats and the chambers two independents.
â€œSlowly but surely weâ€™re building a consensus in the Congress around a way forward in Iraq,â€ said Joe Biden, who worked with Sen. Sam Brownback and liberals like Sen. Barbara Boxer to get the measure passed. â€œThat is a very hopeful sign.â€
Majority Leader Harry Reid colored it as an indictment of the administrations entire war strategy But then the democratic senate has failed to win substantial republican support for any measures binding or not that challenges current war policy in Iraq.
Bidenâ€™s measure, outlined more then a year and a half ago, was originally dismissed by the President and most on Capitol Hill. But since Iraqâ€™s Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has failed to unify the religious and ethnic communities, the idea of a decentralized country divided among Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites begins to look like the only long term solution.
Kurds already have autonomous in northern Iraq with their own president and parliament. The Presidents efforts to create a civil society from the street up, evidenced in meetings sponsored between Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province, are in reality a de facto acknowledgement that a decentralized Iraq will happen sooner or later.
The White House said â€œthe measure conditions the policy change on the agreement of Iraqis. â€œThe amendment recognizes that Iraqis will be the ones that make decisions about their political future,â€ National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement. â€œIt also reiterates the importance of bottom-up reconciliation.â€ Bidenâ€™s measure drew far more Republican support than previous Democratic plans. But it will have no practical effect unless the President decides to implement its goals.
Democrats failed three times last week to overcome filibusters of measures designed to compel the President to change the his war policy including the two that would have mandated withdrawal of U.S. forces. Clinging to hope for a compromise calling for a redefinition of mission in Iraq that could draw enough GOP support to overcome the super majority Republicans intimidate democratic leaders with.
The amendment to the 2008 defense authorization bill concludes â€œthe United States should actively support a political settlement in Iraq based on the final provisions of the Constitution that create a federal system of government and allow for the creation of federal regions, consistent with the wishes of the Iraqi people and their leaders.â€
Biden, chair of Senate Foreign Relations insists the plan does not demand â€œpartitionâ€ but recognition of Iraqâ€™s common desire to separate and staunch the endless ethnic and sectarian killing.
He points to the Balkans, where America helped design a federal like system in Bosnia-Herzegovina separating the Croats, Serbs and Muslims after their civil insurgency. â€œIt is possible that the present structure in Baghdad is incapable of national reconciliation because its elected constituents were elected on a sectarian basis,â€ said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison â€œA wiser course would be to concentrate on the three principal regions.â€
Republicans who have stopped all bindingÂ legislationÂ challenging policy in Iraq did find enough members to voice criticism of Bidenâ€™s plan calling it a dangerous message to Iraq. â€œIt would be a mistake for us to be seen as dictating to the Iraqi people,â€ Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate complained. â€œItâ€™s clearly up to the Iraqi people to make this decision.â€ 23 of the no votes Wednesday were Republican. Sen. Russell D. Feingold being the single Democrat to vote against the measure.
The Senate also passed a second nonbinding amendment on behalf of the Bush administration allowing him to declare Iranâ€™s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. That measure offered by Arch neoconservative Senator John Kyl and Sen. Joe Lieberman drew a 76 to 22 margin over the objections of a few Democrats who worried it simply risked encouraging the President to pursue his war fantasy with Iran.