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Wednesday, 10 January 2007 06:12

DNC: Editorials Around the Country Blast Bush's War Escalation With Troop Increase

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from the Democatic National Committee

Editorials Around the Country Blast Bush's War Escalation With Troop Increase

Washington, DC - As the President prepares to announce an increase of an additional 20,000 American troops for the civil war in Iraq, editorials in newspapers across the country are joining the wide-ranging criticism of the war's escalation. Calling it "a futile gesture" and noting that there "is nothing novel" about the President's latest tactic, editorials from Atlanta to Albuquerque, and Dallas to Milwaukee are calling for a "new strategy," for the President to put "far more pressure" on the Iraqis, and for a greater attempt at diplomacy, as the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended.

Below are excerpts of editorials from around the country:

Los Angeles Times, 1/10/07: The notion that the "surge" in U.S. troops under discussion -- about 20,000 combat troops on top of the 132,000 already in Iraq -- amounts to a new policy is laughable. Adding troops is a tactic, a means toward an end, not a serious strategy -- except maybe in the Washington reality in which politicians on both sides of the debate benefit from pretending that a short-term number is a question for the ages. It allows Bush to pretend he is taking bold action to alter the course of a deteriorating war. The commander in chief needs to set aside his wearisome spin, transcend the phony Washington reality and confront squarely the all-too-real tragedy unfolding in Iraq, a nation whose civil war is intensifying on our watch. Bush needs to spell out a realistic plan for ameliorating the ongoing disaster in Iraq. But if he wants to reassure Americans and give warning to Shiite leaders in Baghdad, he must do something more. The president needs to articulate the conditions under which the U.S. will pull out altogether, in the near future. As painful as that would be, it sure beats becoming embroiled in someone else's civil war.

The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), 1/10/07: One thing is certain: If the president is asking Americans to make an even greater commitment in Iraq, he must do so with an eye toward goals that are indeed specific and achievable. He must reassure the American people that this country's armed forces are not in a Vietnam-like "quagmire," where a deepened and lengthened involvement fails to accomplish anything to justify the cost and sacrifice. If he cannot meet that test, better to withdraw troops and focus on other approaches through strengthened efforts at diplomacy. A broader, more comprehensive approach was in fact the recommendation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker. The United States can't continue to hang its hopes for success in Iraq on the president's self-confidence. That hasn't been good enough, and it won't be good enough in the uncertain weeks ahead. The president now is going to change strategy -- well, it's time for change, all right -- but that had better include a recognition that the American people want more than vague promises and goals that sound good but remain out of reach.

San Francisco Chronicle, 1/10/07: There is nothing novel, and certainly nothing magical, about President Bush's plan to send a surge of troops into Baghdad to stabilize the Iraqi capital. It has been tried twice, with Iraqi troops, in "Operation Together Forward" -- and it failed. In preparing to authorize the surge, Bush is defying two mantras that have guided him throughout this war of choice. One is that he heeds the judgment of the generals in the field. Both Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander of the Middle East, and Gen. George Casey, the chief commander in Iraq, have expressed their clear skepticism about a troop increase. Now each is being rotated out, quite conveniently for the White House policy.

Wichita Eagle, 1/10/07: A new strategy is long overdue, and the stakes are high: This might be America's last chance to avoid a historic foreign policy failure in Iraq. But the details reported so far don't inspire much confidence. [T]he administration has done this before, as recently as last year, with dismal results: a surge of violence, and more Americans dead. The president deserves a fair, full hearing for his plan. But Americans are tired of sacrificing blood and treasure for vague, moving goalposts. They want results.

Atlanta Journal Constitution, 1/10/07: In a last-ditch effort to fend off the disaster they long claimed could never come, President Bush and others are proposing to escalate our effort in Iraq, reportedly increasing our commitment by roughly 20,000 troops.It is a futile gesture, a vain attempt to salvage what is already lost.Recent experience in Iraq confirms that conclusion. Beginning in August, U.S. military officials stripped troops from elsewhere to boost manpower in Baghdad by several thousand troops, in what was then billed as a make-or-break effort to secure the city.As the Pentagon recently conceded in a report to Congress, the effort did produce a reduction in insurgent and sectarian attacks in August, but it proved temporary, with attacks rising to record levels in September and October even as the operation continued. [Jay Bookman, for the editorial board]

Dallas Morning News, 1/9/06: There is no reason to believe that once again throwing more troops -- and a relatively small number, at that -- and more dollars behind shoring up the hopelessly sectarian al-Maliki government will do any good. The time when a surge of U.S. troops might have kept the sectarian wrath bottled up has passed. Wishing and hoping will not change the ugly fact that Iraq is a country whose people don't want to live together -- at least not enough of them to save their nation.

Rocky Mountain News, 1/9/07: On Wednesday, Bush is expected to say that there's more to this strategy than a surge of forces. We certainly hope so. Like most Americans, we'd like to believe such a strategy could reverse the debacle in Baghdad, but nothing we've heard so far has convinced us that is the case. Bush has a tall order on his hands Wednesday, and will need more than moving rhetoric about the promise of democracy to push the American public over to his side of the debate.

Albany Times Union, 1/9/07: There was a time when a surge of as many as 20,000 more American troops into Iraq, mostly inside Baghdad - as President Bush is expected to announce later this week - made sense. But that was nearly four years ago, when U.S. armed forces invaded Iraq and quickly toppled Saddam Hussein. All of which raises the question of just how long the "surge" will last. The word itself suggests a brief interlude, but the added troops could be deployed for much longer, perhaps from 18 to 36 months. If so, that would constitute an escalation of the war, not a surge. Most polls suggest that the American public would not support such an extended commitment. What the Bush administration needs to do now is put more pressure - far more pressure - on the al-Maliki government to crack down on the militias roaming throughout Iraq, with special emphasis on disarming the militia controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr. Unless that essential step is taken, putting more American troops in harm's way can't be effective, or justified.

New York Daily News, 1/8/07: Exactly how many troops, their missions and rules of engagement will be spelled out by Bush as he reaches one of the most fateful moments of his administration, second only to launching the war. This time, he has to get it right, and he has to execute with far more competence than has been brought to the field of battle to date. Half measures will not suffice, nor would they be accepted by a public that's weary of seeing young Americans killed or maimed for no discernible purpose in a land that many deem unredeemable.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/7/07: Many have changed their tune from "stay the course" to "fight to win," but it's the same old ditty unless there is a reasonable likelihood that "winning" is possible or even definable to Americans' satisfaction. Any proposal that does not tell Americans how and when U.S. withdrawal occurs will not suffice. Any proposal that says "surge" but means whatever it takes for however long it takes will similarly fall with a serious thud.

Albuquerque Journal, 1/7/07: This administration has consistently been clear and specific in asserting what can be accomplished in Iraq. Clear, specific and wrong. The current general in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., has doubts about the value of increasing troops in Baghdad at this late date. Apparently he should have kept them between himself and his superiors if he wanted to stay on. The commander in chief has often said during the course of this misadventure that he gives his commanders on the ground what they think they need to get the job done. That apparently means he gives them early retirement when what they think doesn't dovetail with his own military assessment.

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