Article

The Escalation Continues

Only 29 percent of Americans think the escalation is working, and 60 percent call for a speedy withdrawl timetable.

Three months into the President Bush’s Iraq escalation strategy, the American people have continued to lose “faith in [his] conduct of the war.” A new Gallup poll shows that only 29 percent of Americans believe the escalation is working. “In addition, fully 80 percent of Americans ‘endorse a requirement that U.S. troops meet strict readiness criteria before being deployed to Iraq,’ while 60 percent ‘favor a timetable for withdrawing all U.S. troops from’ Iraq by fall 2008.'” And in Iraq, feelings are similar; a BBC/ABC News poll this month revealed that only 18 percent of Iraqis have confidence in the U.S.-led coalition troops and almost 90 percent “say they live in fear that the violence ravaging their country will strike themselves and the people with whom they live.” Even the hallmark of Bush’s Iraq strategy — the transfer of power from U.S. forces to Iraqi security forces — is collapsing. With a failing strategy that costs the U.S. more and more each day, the case for redeployment has never been stronger.

  • While insurgents in Baghdad wait out the troop buildup, violence elsewhere has escalated. Despite Bush’s calls for optimism, an administration official acknowledged “there is no trend” showing that the troop escalation is working. In fact, violence is only being displaced. “Deaths of Iraq civilians and U.S. troops have increased outside the capital…If violence is down in Baghdad, analysts said, it is likely because the Shiite militias operating there are waiting out the buildup in U.S. troops, nearly all of whom are being deployed in the capital. At the same time, Sunni insurgents have escalated their operations elsewhere.” With the troop escalation underway, “the U.S. military has warned that insurgents are adopting new tactics in a campaign to spread panic.” Yesterday, suicide bombers detonated highly toxic chlorine bombs in Fallujah, wounding 15 U.S. and Iraqi security forces. Since January, eight U.S. helicopters have been shot down as “Iraqi insurgents…are learning that downing a U.S. helicopter serves as powerful propaganda — an underdog’s blow against the technical prowess of the American Goliath.”
  • Despite comments by Senator McCain, Baghdad continues to be dangerous for Americans. Staunch war supporter Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) commented this week that he believes the escalation is working, as “General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee.” I think you oughta catch up,” McCain instructed CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “You are giving the old line of three months ago.” CNN Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware quickly rebuked McCain’s comments, saying McCain is “way off base. … To suggest that there’s any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I’d love Sen. McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.” Ware added, “None of the American generals here on the ground have anything like Sen. McCain’s confidence…(and) certainly the general travels in a humvee.” The next day, McCain tried to recant his optimism, arguing “Well, I’m not saying they could go without protection. The President goes around America with protection. So, certainly, I didn’t say that.”
  • The humanitarian crisis in Iraq continues despite the escalation. The Iraq war and the recent escalation has harmed the lives of  thousands of American troops and millions of Iraqi civilians. As violence spreads, “nearly a million displaced people in Iraqi’s increasingly volatile southern provinces are in urgent need of food, medicines, and municipal services, local officials and NGOs say…the past two months were the worst for those families.” Within the United States, returning veterans  influx overstretched and underprepared hospitals, such as the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Army’s new acting surgeon general, Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, said this week she was “concerned about long term morale because the military lacks money to hire enough nurses and mental health specialists to treat thousands of troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.”