Last night, President Bush disregarded the opposition of U.S. military commanders, lawmakers of both parties, the Iraq Study Group (ISG), and the American public and announced to the nation that he plans to increase America’s presence in Iraq by approximately 21,500 troops with no timetable for when troop levels would be drawn back down. The right wing tried to present this “surge” as the “last chance for success” in Iraq. But as the Associated Press noted, Bush’s escalation announcement is simply the “latest repackaging of a program that’s been wrapped and rewrapped many times.” Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) has introduced legislation demanding accountability from the President, and the Center for American Progress has released a memo recommending “an amendment on the supplemental funding bill that states that if the administration wants to increase the number of troops in Iraq above 150,000, it must provide a plan for their purpose and require an up or down vote on exceeding that number.” The Center for American Progress also has a strategic redeployment plan detailing “a responsible exit from Iraq as part of a balanced global strategy to make Americans safer.”
- Bush’s plan is a repackaging of failure. Even before Bush spoke to the nation last night, the escalation plan was underway. Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad yesterday and an “additional battalion of roughly 800 troops from the same division are expected to arrive in Baghdad Thursday.” Bush last night presented this plan as a “new strategy” that will “help us succeed in the fight against terror.” But in reality, “Bush’s overall strategy seems likely to remain wholly unchanged: To keep U.S. troops in Iraq as long as it takes for the Iraqi government to start functioning effectively. That means using American bodies and firepower, pretty much indefinitely, to prop up a country racked by civil war and chafing under occupation. That means the American death count ticks on, with no end in sight,” writes The Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin. One senior Army official acknowledged that there will be “more violence than usual because of the surge.”
- President Bush continues to ignore the opinion of military experts and the American people. It is clear that Bush did not listen to the American public when figuring out the way forward in Iraq. A recent CBS poll found that just 18 percent of the American public supports an escalation of involvement in Iraq. He also didn’t heed the advice of his military commanders. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were unanimously opposed to the escalation. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who publicly declared in December that he does not support escalation, “is caustic in private about the proposed ‘surge,’” columnist Robert Novak reported. Military commanders also told the President that they had just 9,000 soldiers and Marines available to go to Iraq.
- This plan will not work—the army is stretched. Not only did the military admit to the President that it does not have enough troops to support the escalation, but it does not have enough armor. Yesterday, The Baltimore Sun reported that the thousands of troops Bush ordered to Iraq “will join the fight largely without the protection of the latest armored vehicles that withstand bomb blasts far better than the Humvees in wide use, military officers said.” A report in early 2006 found that the Army had become a “thin green line,” stretched to a “breaking point.”” Even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a leading proponent of Bush’s plan, admitted, “Is it going to be a strain on the military? Absolutely. Casualties are going to go up.” More than 3,000 U.S. troops have been killed in the Iraq war.
Daily Talking Points is a product of the American Progress Action Fund.