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Published: Saturday, 3/17/2007

Failure of will

THE failure of Congress to pass decisive legislation to limit the Iraq war reflects more closely the personal and political interests of its individual members than the will of the American people.

It is clear that the great majority of Americans are ready to see the Iraq war draw to an end. It has been going on for four years, longer than World War II. The financial cost of the conflict stands at more than $400 billion, money that could have been spent on legitimate and far more pressing needs of the American people - health care, education, infrastructure repair and replacement, and devising ways to stem the catastrophic flow of jobs overseas.

The U.S. death toll now stands at more than 3,200; the new scandal over the inadequate care of wounded veterans of the war underscores the full dimension of the price of this war to the country. Finally, no one can yet give a cogent reason for why America is fighting in Iraq.

But Congress either doesn't get it or doesn't have the courage to bring the matter to an end. The way to do that is perfectly obvious, and it's the same means Congress used to bring the Vietnam War to an end: Cut off the money to fight it.

Instead, lawmakers are letting themselves be distracted by the fallacious argument that to support the troops, the Congress has to provide whatever money President Bush demands. This time it is a supplemental appropriation of some $125 billion, on top of the administration's regular budget proposal of nearly $500 billion in spending on the military.

Congress, and particularly the Senate's gallery of presidential candidates, needs to stop the relentless campaign preening and bring this pointless war to an end.

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