Bush's temporary escalation plan (also known as the 'surge') is drawing a new, powerful wave of opposition from ... everybody.
Gen Wesley Clark had this to say in an op-ed in The Independent on Sunday:
From the administration's perspective, a troop surge of modest size is virtually the only remaining action inside Iraq that will be a visible signal of determination. More economic assistance is likely to be touted, but in the absence of a change in the pattern of violence, infrastructure enhancement simply isn't practical. And if the President announces new Iraqi political efforts - well, that's been tried before, and is there any hope that this time will be different?Collin Powell, according to Robert Novak:
As for the US troops, yes, several additional brigades in Baghdad would enable more
roadblocks, patrols, neighbourhood clearing operations and overnight presence. But how significant will this be? We've never had enough troops in Iraq - in Kosovo, we had 40,000 troops for a population of two million. For Iraq that ratio would call for at least 500,000 troops, so adding 20,000 seems too little, too late, even, for Baghdad. Further, in a "clear and hold" strategy, US troops have been shown to lack the language skills, cultural awareness and political legitimacy to ensure that areas can be "held", or even that they are fully "cleared". The key would be more Iraqi troops, but they aren't available in the numbers required for a city of more than five million with no reliable police - nor have the Iraqi troops been reliable enough for the gritty work of dealing with militias and sectarian loyalties. Achieving enhanced protection for the population is going to be problematic at best. Even then, militia fighters in Baghdad could redeploy to other areas and continue the fight there.
What the surge would do, however, is put more American troops in harm's way, further undercut US forces' morale, and risk further alienation of elements of the Iraqi populace. American casualties would probably rise, at least temporarily, as more troops are on the streets; we saw this when the brigade from Alaska was extended and sent into Baghdad last summer. And even if the increased troop presence initially
intimidates or frustrates the contending militias, it won't be long before they find ways to work around the obstacles to movement and neighbourhood searches, if they are still intent on pursuing the conflict. All of this is not much of an endorsement for a troop surge that will impose real pain on the already overstretched US forces.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has gone public with criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy, is caustic in private about the proposed "surge" of 30,000 additional U.S. troops.Novak also points out opposition within the Republican Party:
Powell noted that the recent congressional delegation to Iraq headed by Sen. John McCain heard from combat officers that they wanted more troops.
"The colonels will always say they need more troops," the retired general says. "That's why we have generals."
President Bush and McCain, the front-runner for the next presidential nomination, in pressing for a surge of 30,000 more troops, will have trouble finding support from more than 12 out of 49 Republican senators. "It's Alice in Wonderland," Sen. Chuck Hagel, second-ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, told me in describing the proposed surge. "I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly."
Sen. Susan Collins returned from Baghdad opposing more troops. Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois, the only House member on the trip, is described as skeptical.
Even in Mississippi, the reddest of red states where Bush's approval rating has just inched above 50 percent, Republicans see no public support for more troops. What is happening inside the president's party is reflected by defection from support for his war policy after November's election by two Republican senators who face an uphill race for re-election in 2008: Gordon Smith of Oregon and Norm Coleman of Minnesota. Coleman announced his opposition to more troops after returning from a trip to Iraq preceding McCain's.
And it's not like Democrats are going to bend over backwards to help Georgie. The President will give his 'New Way Forward' speech on Wednesday at 9:00pm. Expect plenty of commentary on Thursday morning...
George W. BushWar in IraqSurgeOpposition