Assuming that Gates did not lie to the Senate yesterday, I can support Bush's plan with qualifications. I think it is too late for Bush's plan to work, for the reasons I gave about al-Maliki, and because Bush should have taken these steps a year ago. Politically, I am glad to see that after this blog said late this week that the Democrats should answer Bush's challenge by adopting the ISG report as their policy, tomorrow's Post reports that Democrats are doing exactly that. But in the interim, with Gates tying the gradual surge to concrete steps by the Iraqis, I can support what Bush is proposing here, albeit months too late. Yes, the alternative is to withdraw, cut off funds for the escalation, or demand that the ISG report be implemented immediately. But the ISG report doesn't propose going after Al Qaeda immediately nor does it tie a surge to immediate Iraqi commitments to their own security. At the other end of the spectrum, Bush could also have escalated without any benchmarks or even kept the status quo without any tie to Iraqi performance. He didn't; instead he is inserting more troops to go after Al Qaeda, and to buy the Iraqis one last time window to take over for themselves.
Yeah, Steve, I would have supported a 'surge' too, if it would have happened in 2003, when we realized we didn't have enough troops to protect Iraqi infrastructure. In 2004, when we knew we didn't have enough troops to clear and hold the neighborhoods we pacified. But this war was doomed to failure before the balloon went up and nothing we do now can stop it. Well ... unless we abdicate what little morality we have left and say 'kill 'em all and let God sort out the mess'.
A 'surge' now will only squander American, and more Iraqi, lives. I'd support a 'surge' if it weren't doomed to failure, if it wouldn't sentence more Americans to die. There is no Divine Wind in the U.S. aside from the bad farts coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The lives of highly trained and motivated soldiers are not meant to be squandered to see if it might work. If you "think it is too late for Bush's plan to work", why bother in the first place? I lay odds one of your kids isn't staring down the sights of his rifle at the enemy, I'll lay odds you never did either or you wouldn't be so cavalier about this.
The burden will solely be upon Bush to deliver what he as the commander in chief says can work. If it doesn't work by the summer, he is done and Congress can take control of foreign policy for the remainder of his term.
Yes, his political strategy is right on, and it would be sound if we were talking about something where American lives didn't hang in the balance. When 3, 4, 5 or 10 U.S. troops die every day, political strategy and expediency don't play. Over 2800 troops have died since 'Mission Accomplished', we don't have the time, or the troops, to try different plans and wait a Friedman Unit or two to see if they work. Let me repeat; American lives hang in the balance. Our soldiers' are not guinea pigs, not lab rats. They are here to defend this nation and as long as they are in Iraq our defense suffers.
Yes, Steve, if you look at this in a clinical, detached manner, you are decidedly correct. Unfortunately, as someone who's been in combat on more than one occasion, I can't look at the deaths and maimings of my brothers and sisters in a clinical, detached manner. I can't square their losses for political gains, sir, and I refuse to trade more of their lives for a little more leverage over the Chimp.
Read my lips: No more troops to Iraq, period. Those who are there already need to be brought home now.
Our troops are not just numbers on a force strength chart or killing machines like Ahnold's Terminator. They are men and women with lives and families who volunteer to keep this nation safe. It's time we stopped treating them like pieces on a game board and realize they are human beings who are going to come home with real problems. Our focus should be getting them home in one piece and giving them the help they need when they do get home, not using them in some game played by people who don't have to worry about getting blown up as they pull out of their driveway in the morning.