The US President has met with his top military advisors while behind the scenes his worst political nightmare was beginning to unfold. A Democrat-controlled US Senate Committee has rejected George W. Bush’s plan to send extra 21,500 extra troops to Iraq by a majority of 12-9.
It comes a day after Bush gave his State of the Union address asking the now-hostile Congress to back his plan. Senator Chuck Hagel, the only Republican on the panel, voted in favour of the deployment. However even the former Vietnam veteran had words of warning:
“There is no strategy. This is a ping-pong game with American lives. These young men and women that we put in Anbar Province, in Iraq, in Baghdad, are not beans. They’re real lives. And we’d better be damn sure we know what we are doing, all of us, before we put 22 thousand more Americans into that grinder.”
The response from Vice President Dick Cheney was defiant. He described claims that the Bush regime’s credibility was on the line over Iraq as “hogwash”.
Neither this vote nor a further Senate ballot next week is binding, but analysts say a further knock-back would be difficult for the White House to ignore.