(Toledo, OH) The news that President Bush is considering plans that would send up to 20,000 more US troops to Iraq in an effort to quell sectarian violence comes as no surprise. The administration began floating trial balloons about troop surges last month, and it is clear that this leak is intended to send a message to the new Democratic Congress.
That message, of course, is that the Bush administration plans to continue to use US troops in support of its failed Iraq policies; this move comes in spite of heavy opposition from the American public as demonstrated in polls and the November elections. Despite finding no weapons of mass destruction, and effecting the desired regime change, the President continues to stubbornly stay the course with this doomed foreign policy.
The "shakeup" of the administration - Ryan Crocker as the new US ambassador to Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus as top ground commander in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad as ambassador to the United Nations, and Robert Gates as the new Defense Secretary - was intended to mollify critics of the Iraq war. On the surface, these changes do bring fresh faces into the mix, but I cannot but wonder what real change can happen as Iraq spirals downward into a Titanician descent.
The Iraqi insurgencies are driven by the presence of US troops on Iraqi soil, and the insurgency will not die out until those US troops leave. The US military serves as a tool of recruitment to the militias and terror cells.
The Iraqi security forces have become dependent on the US military, and they will not evolve into a sustainable police force so long as the Americans remain the primary decision makers. Setting a deadline for bringing the troops home will ensure that the Iraqi government takes seriously the need for stepping up self-policing.
Those who support the various surge plans believe this is the only way to "win" the war, but - like the US in the Vietnam War, or the British in the American Revolution - this is a war that cannot be won, at least not in the conventional sense (we already "won" the actual war against Saddam and his armies). The Iraqis are fighting an internal civil war of a political nature, and the US military cannot "win" a political struggle.
It is time to cut our losses and bring the troops home in 2007.