While Iraqi voices are unheard in the “debate” over what to do next about Iraq, several Democratic senators have been talking way too much. First, on Thursday, Sen. Durbin gave an interview to the Chicago Tribune:

In the debate in Washington, the White House reportedly will ask Congress for an additional $50 billion to expand funding for the war in Iraq, a request that seems likely to prolong troop levels at their current elevated number into the spring of 2008, Durbin said.

Even opponents of the war, as Durbin calls himself, find themselves likely to vote for the extra money, he said.

(snip)

Though he said he is likely to approve the increased request — it would accompany a pending request for an additional $147 billion in war funding — Durbin said he would work to attach conditions to it that would require troops to begin coming home in the spring.

Great way to whip the votes to oppose Bush, eh? Then we have Sen. Harry Reid’s new “bipartisan” approach to negotiating:

Reid acknowledged that his previous firm demand for a spring withdrawal deadline had become an obstacle for a small but growing number of Republicans who have said they want to end the war but have been unwilling to set a timeline.

“I don’t think we have to think that our way is the only way,” Reid said of specific dates during an interview in his office here. “I’m not saying, ‘Republicans, do what we want to do.’ Just give me something that you think you would like to do, that accomplishes some or all of what I want to do.”

And good ole Carl Levin, “the author of the main Senate Democratic measure that would withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq is considering removing from the proposal a deadline for completing the redeployment, in an effort to attract enough Republican votes to pass the measure.”

Now, I’ve never heard of a winning negotiation strategy that begins with giving your opponent everything they want before they even ask. I don’t know whose voices Levin, Reid and Durbin listening to – though the Congressional Quarterly suggests they are talking a lot to John Warner – but it’s very clear they sure aren’t listening to us …or the Iraqi people.

And while the presidential candidates not currently in Congress have voiced their opposition to the upcoming supplemental, only Chris Dodd of the serving members has spoken up to make his position crystal clear:

It is a civil war in Iraq and those who have understood this issue have argued from the very beginning that there was never going to be a military solution to the civil war in Iraq. I intend to fight any efforts here, I’ll do whatever I can to support whatever our troops need to have a safe and secure withdrawal from Iraq. But I don’t intend to continue to fund the war over there that I think has no end.

I wonder why we haven’t heard a peep from Clinton, Obama and Biden? Are they listening to the same voices as Harry?

Dodd gets extra credit this week for also acknowledging the validity of Iraqi voices as he warned of the danger of repeating British colonial mistakes:

Presidential hopeful Chris Dodd said the United States risks repeating the mistakes of last century’s arrogance if politicians don’t allow Iraqis to set their own agenda.

Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said it’s unbelievable that U.S. leaders think edicts from Washington will make any meaningful change.

“While I respect those who come up with ideas on what Iraq ought to look like, that’s exactly the problem we got into back in the early 20th century when the British decided what Iraq was gonna look like,” he said, referring to British forces’ presence in Iraq after World War I.

(snip)

He said it’s up to Iraqis to control their fate.

“Iraqis have to decide what they’re going to look like and make up their own minds as to what sort of political configuration they want their country to be. You can’t decide this for them with even our treasury or our military might,” he said. “The idea somehow that we’re going to determine the future for them is something we’ve got to disavow ourselves of.”

Now that’s a statement we should be hearing from every Democratic candidate – respect for self-determination is the very foundation of democracy. More of this, please!

Note on the YouTube: I’ve just discovered this extraordinary collection of videos from Iraq – Alive in Baghdad. Alive in Baghdad is a weekly video blog featuring short films of daily life in Iraq and interviews with Iraqis. The Iraq team of experienced journalists works with the four member Small World News team to bring genuine voices from Iraq to the rest of the world. I have just begun to view all of these videos – the collection goes back to November 2005. There’s a small selection on YouTube and a full archive on the Alive in Baghdad site. (It also looks like they could use some financial aid – consider subscribing to their video service so these important voices are shared.)

h/t Thers and Jerid

(emph added is mine)