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Parsing the Polls: Is Bush's "Surge" Idea DOA?

President Bush will address the nation tonight and outline his plan to move forward in Iraq, a blueprint likely to include an influx of 20,000 American troops.

Will the American public accept such a proposal? Two new polls released Monday suggest the answer is no.

Let's parse the polls.

Two new surveys suggest that the landscape on which Bush will deliver his remarks tonight is tilted heavily against him. Both polls were conducted in the first days of 2007. The USA Today/Gallup poll was in the field from Jan. 5-7, testing 1,004 adults. The poll had a 3.1 percent margin of error. The CBS News survey spanned Jan. 1-3 and sampled 993 adults. (As loyal Fix readers know, we generally look askance at polls that test adults as opposed to registered or likely voters, but in this case the goal is to test public sentiment broadly not in the context of a political campaign.)

The surveys show that not only have Americans soured on the Iraq war, they have also experienced a major loss of faith in Bush's ability to make the sound choices about the conflict. Just 26 percent of the CBS News sample expressed "confidence" in the president's "ability to make the right decisions about the war in Iraq," while 72 percent pronounced themselves "uneasy." Though Democrats' distrust of Bush (7 percent "confidence"/92 percent "distrust") is nothing new, Independents (19 confidence/79 distrust) and even Republicans (63 confidence/37 distrust) have grown more and more skeptical that Bush has a plan to win the war. Should the erosion among Independents and Republicans continue, GOPers seeking office in 2007 and 2008 have real reason to worry.

While USA Today/Gallup asked a slightly different question to gauge the public's trust in Bush on Iraq, their results were nearly a mirror image of those produced by CBS. When the sample was asked whether they approved or disapproved of Bush's handling of the Iraq situation, just 26 percent approved, while 72 percent disapproved.

The public also decidedly views the war as not worth fighting. Fifty-seven percent of the USA Today/Gallup sample said it was a "mistake" to send troops to Iraq; 57 percent of the CBS News sample said the U.S. should have "stayed out" of Iraq. (As we have written before, recent history suggests that once the American public sours on an armed conflict, it stays sour.)

The news for Bush is not simply negative on the generic level but also on the specifics of his surge proposal. Asked what the United States should do now in Iraq, just 18 percent of the people CBS surveyed said "increase the number of troops," slightly better than the 12 percent in the USA Today/Gallup survey who advocated America sending more troops. Fully 59 percent in the USA Today/Gallup survey advocated decreasing the number of troops (30 percent) or removing all troops (29 percent); The CBS sample showed 15 percent in support of immediate withdrawal and 39 percent backing withdrawal within a year's time.

Put simply: President Bush shouldn't expect too many cheers of support when he unveils the full details of his surge plan tonight. The two polls cited above -- as well as multiple other surveys conducted late last year -- suggest that the public has tuned the president out when it comes to Iraq; they no longer view him as a credible messenger on the issue and therefore anything he says in regard to Iraq is greeted with a large degree of skepticism.

The war in Iraq continues to be a lead weight around Republicans political fortunes that could well cost them elections in 2008. (Stu Rothenberg argued the 2008 presidential election was "Democrats' to lose" in his Roll Call column on Monday.)

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 10, 2007; 4:36 PM ET
Categories:  Parsing the Polls  
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The entire Bush family needs to be sent to Iraq along with all the neo-cons and their families. They will fit into one 747. They could patrol the Sunni neighborhoods of Baghdad and hand out dollar bills to the residents whenever the electricity fails.Do not forget Bush II is only a figurehead. David Rockefeller, age 91 is the real President and oil is the reason he will not let the troops come home.
Senator Wayne Allard is a strange duck who is manning a Kamikazi plane as he attacks the Denver airport. He is killed and Dems take his seat. Since when did a Senators promise to run for only 2 terms mean diddly squat???

Posted by: mascmen7 | January 17, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

1. President Bush let himself be misled by the information that was given to him about
weaphons of mass destruction. He sent the Military to Iraq in doing so he did not find Weaphons of mass destruction,spent billions of tax payers dollars and got over 3,000 young american men and women killed. The president now wants to justify himself by sending 21,000 more young americans into this abatross. This is a failure, a blunder,and a snake bite. The american people wants this war to end just as they wanted the vietnam war to end. If the president gets his way; people will start marching in the streets just as they did during the vietnam war. If the Republicans and the democrates go along with this president who hid out during him military respondsibility for 2(Two Years)on a botch-up plan they all need to be thrown out.

Posted by: Henry | January 15, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Take every word in that ifrst paragraph, and substitute Iraq for Iran. It's the same BS argument we had last time. Iran is at least ten years away from a nuke, Ahmadinejad will probably lose the presidency next electin to the current mayor of Tehran because the rest of Iran wants to focus on stregthening the country internally, not wasting effort on foreign issues (and that's not necessarily good for us, he's more ideological on domestic issues) and once more I care far more about the security of the US than I do about Israel. If you want to move there than please do so, starting a war with Iran now will break our armed forces, galvanize resistance to the US, and drastically undermine our war on terror. Airstrikes are insufficient, and we don't have the capability to start another ground war and try to occupy everything from the Saudi border to pakistan (or all the way to the Mediterranian if we go after Syria like the noecons would like too). We'd just confirm to the Arab world exactly what bin Laden has been saying for years.

Posted by: Michael | January 12, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

So the moonbats complain we don't have enough troops and that Bush needs to change course.

He does and they complain that changing the course and adding more troops will only lead to disaster.

No pleasing you, huh? Oh I forgot...the US losing the war would make you mighty happy.

After all, the impending genocide once we "bug out" is no skin off your latte infused noses

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Iran has a nuclear capability, and their leader seems to have no intention of halting the nuclear programs, or ever using them "for peaceful purposes"--such as energy production. We must take out the man who calls for the total annihilation of Israel (Ahmadinejad) before we even consider taking out the man who calls for freedom for all human beings (Bush).

The reason people are so pessimistic about this war compared to so many wars of the past (where thousands, and in some cases millions, more died than in the Iraq War) is simply because of the effect of modern mass communication and media bombardment everywhere we go. We know of every little negative event which occurs yet we never hear of the positive things (they just don't sell as well).

And President Pelosi...yay! Let's have an image-conscious and economic near-socialist control the presidency! Sounds like a fantastic plan! She can implement colossal government programs to magically solve all our problems! And she can pull all the troops out of Iraq, and cause the chaos to spiral ever further into a state of degradation and mindless violence! Yay! F*** the Iraqis! We don't have any responsibility to protect their human rights of life, liberty, and property!

Posted by: Josh | January 11, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree Judge. I think we really need to remove him from office before he bombs Iran and single-handedly ushers in a global war. I think that's what it comes down to. He must be removed by impeachment. He is breaking the military, he is breaking the will of the American people, and he is literally encouraging jihad around the world.

And just think. If Bush is removed and Cheney is forced to step down, we would have President Pelosi. And you know she would get things in tip top shape. God knows we need it.

Posted by: F&B | January 11, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

The time to have an adequate number of troops has long passed. They should have been there, as the generals wanted, during the invasion. No less than the top leadership in the Army told congress a very large force was required to take control of Iraq and occupy it.

The neo-cons in the Administration on 2003, few if any who had actually worn the nation's uniform, overruled all the sound military opinion.

Now were are stuck in a quagmire, which good military minds predicted. Twenty thousand more troops, roughly the addition of one more Division of soldiers, allows for a little more area to be partolled. It also engages more US forces and increases the odds that the American death toll will climb higher.

And still there is no articulated new strategy. There is no end in site, other that some day attrition will take care of the militants. Now, where have we heard THAT before?

Then the plan seems to be as the old song said, "We'll all be drinking free Bubble-up and eating Rainbow Stew."

Mabe it's time to think of partition. The three main religious sects are geopgraphically divided already.
We actually supported partition as a policy when Tito's death sparked an explosion of ethnic strife in the former Yugoslavia. It worked, the area is at peace and not one American soldier died in action.

Here we've removed the strongman by force, and like Yugoslavia, the national has degenerated into bitter secretarian fighting.

It is way too little and too late to be adding additional US forces in Vietnam.

Posted by: Alan in Missoula | January 11, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Can't help but ask the Bush-supportive posters what, if anything should happen if this surge fails? In Iraq? To Bush?

Last night Bush admitted that mistakes were made and accepted responsibility. However, this seems to be the same kind of consequence-free responsibility unique to Bush (as a President) that my four-year old cannot get away with.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | January 11, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Adam Hammond - "The pentagon reports roughly 23,000 non-fatal US casualties so far in Iraq."
And this would be the very same Pentagon who's recruiters are so honest with our children when they enlist? Look, any moron can check the VA numbers of wounded veterans from this mess and those numbers are 60,000 100% disabled and 105,000 50% or more disabled. The Pentagon press office, thus, aren't simply liars, they are stupid liars.

Posted by: MikeB | January 11, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't really matter.

Even if Bush's surge is successful, that success is not going to translate in us getting out of Iraq in the very near future. 'Success' will depend on an increase of contact with the enemy by about a third (we have around 60k troops currently on real front line duty, about to add another 20k), meaning that we can expect American casualties to increase by the same proportion. Increasing the rate of casualties by a third will cause Bush's 'new way forward' to be declared a failure by most Americans before there has even been time to evaluate the consequences.

Bush is pretty well doomed, politically, no matter what happens. Probably the most interesting question is whether he will be foolish enough to start vetoing legislation from the new Democratic majority. Should he pick a fight, Pelosi can retaliate by launching hearings and investigations into Bush's alleged mishandling of intelligence to get us into the war in the first place. This can very easily lead straight to impeachment in a political climate where Bush is at 30% approval and Republican senators are running as far away from Bush and Iraq ahead of the '08 elections they can.

A vote on impeachment could very easily become a political litmus test for whether a senator is in favor of the war or opposed to it. The idea of the senate voting two thirds against Bush is no longer impossible. Bush could really be on his way out the door if he isn't very careful. Whether or not this surge does what he thinks it will doesn't even figure into things. Success looks so much like failure in the short term that Bush can't win.

Posted by: Jackson Landers | January 11, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"were there to see Justice served with his execution"

The guy was executed with members of Moqtada al Sadr's militia as part of the guard duty, while he was taunted and people chanted al Sadrs name, following a conviction solely for the murder of 148 Shi'ites following an assassination attempt led by the Dawa Party, a party which today is headed by Nouri al Maliki. The death warrant was rushed and proper constitutional protocals were not followed (Talabani never signed it as required). I don't care how guilty he was- that wasn't justice, it was a sectarian lynching emblemizing all of the problems we face in Iraq. He will never answer for his crimes against the Kurds or other true crimes against humanity, hundreds of thousands will never see justice solely because the Shi'ites wanted their revenge quickly.

Posted by: Michael | January 11, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Far to small to be very effective.

I think I had stated back in May or June of last year (much to the surprise I think of some of my Dem colleagues) that a 35,000-50,000 was prudent to pacify the central Anbar province and the Baghdad capitol, hasten the Iraqi security training and set the stage for full security handover by the end of 2007 so the US could begin a withdrawal of US forces.

Apparently, one General (can't remember off hand at that moment) said to really do the job right, it would take 250,000.

My only advocacy for the surge was to protect the forces already on the ground and undermanned and ill equipped. If we can provide a brief period of stability central Iraq, build the Iraqi security forces and protect infrastructure and rebuilding, we will get our troops back quicker.

Posted by: RMill | January 11, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

re: "What war? This is an invasion and occupation so we can steal the resources of one's of the world's most oil-rich countries"
According to independent watchdog groups:.. this deal is "the only way to get Iraq's oil industry back on its feet after years of sanctions, war and loss of expertise. But it will operate through "production-sharing agreements" (or PSAs) which are highly unusual in the Middle East, where the oil industry in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the world's two largest producers, is state controlled.

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Salih, who chairs the country's oil committee, is expected to unveil the legislation as early as today. "It is a redrawing of the whole Iraqi oil industry [to] a modern standard," said Khaled Salih, spokesman for the Kurdish Regional Government, a party to the negotiations."

At least with Saddam gone, the rest of the country has a say in things. Most people can agree on Nor'easter's point.."We successfully entered Iraq, deposed a tyrant, captured the tyrant, made sure that he had a trial far fairer than he ever allowed, were there to see Justice served with his execution, provided all of the Iraqis with an opportunity to run their own country by themselves. That's a helluva lot which we accomplished."

Thank you, Rigo, for a unvarnished report from someone who's actually been there.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

'We still have a chance to make things better in Iraq IMO. Why do liberals think it's o.k. to lose this war? The new plan is not only military but also includes many other important changes and strategies.'

Oh please, please. I really cannot believe there are people that are this stupid, this gullible, this simple. What war? This is an invasion and occupation so we can steal the resources of one's of the world's most oil-rich countries.This week, a consortium of oil companies [including Exxon] signed a 30-year extremely profitable extraction agreement, thereby effectively transferring all the profits out of Iraq.

So as of now the 'war' for oil is won. But our troops have to stay there to protect the pipelines and establish bases. We aren't going anywhere.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Several pundit shows have about the expected comments from them, and I have watched GW from The White House Library a few more times to try and understand better what he is saying. The words and thoughts I come up with are "delusional, shell game, dreamer, con artist", to name a few. How this Iraq situation will play out is beyond me and I can only hope we, as a country, can get out of there and not keep on with the useless sacrifice of so many of our brave military forces.

Posted by: lylepink | January 11, 2007 4:17 AM | Report abuse

As I sit here thousands of miles from my home, I am increasingly saddened by what my country is doing in the Middle East. But most of all, I am saddened by the prospects of losing more of our servicemen and women in a civil war that has absolutely no relevance to our interests. I am a Vietnam veteran and know something about this and am horrified by the current similarities. While the politicians can spout on about the pros and cons of leaving this mess to the seemingly endless groups of Iraqi insurgents, U.S. mothers, fathers, wives and children are left to greet the caskets of their loved ones and wonder, "to what end, Mr. President, to what end? End the war now!

Posted by: john/beijing | January 11, 2007 3:27 AM | Report abuse

Stu Rothenberg seems to think that Iraq is a key issue in giving the Democrats the White House in 2008. Voters are already primed for change, and an extended war will only help.

Posted by: JNutting | January 11, 2007 1:30 AM | Report abuse

The fact of the matter is that the Dems have done more in the last 48 hours to fight the war on terror than the GOP has ever done. And they did it simply by being Diplomats and passing legislation to make America stronger. The fact of the matter is that George Bush can save countless thousands of lives around the world with the stroke of a pen by doing things like funding mosquito nets in Africa to prevent malaria, but he instead devotes several times that amount of money to endess war. That is why America is hated and that is why there needs to be a progressive Democrat to be President.

Posted by: F&B | January 11, 2007 1:14 AM | Report abuse

FH- thanks, glad to see civility isn't dead despite the nature of these blogs. I do, however, think we do need to discuss why we went there in the first place. It is inherntly related to why we remain there today, it gives us insight into the thinking of the decisionmakers (almost all of which remain the drivers of our foreign policy establishment), and serves as a warning for handling future situations (which is why I argued throughout 2004 that Kerry et al should have made a bigger issue of it, it's NOT about hindsight, do you really want the people who brought you Iraq to be handling the war on terror and making decisions on policy toward Iran, N Korea, Syria, and others given their blindness to history, lack of outside inputs, failure to learn from mistakes, and fundamental lack of understanding of the conflict itself?).

"In WW II, there were about 292,000 battle deaths. In the Korean War, about 34,000. And in Vietnam, about 48,000. From this review, it is clear that the number of in-theatre deaths in Iraq is extremely low -- about 3,000 at present."

The body count frankly doesn't matter. It's not that America somehow has a weaker stomach for violence than we once did, it's just that we are more aware of what is and is not in our interest. If we thought losing Iraq would really jeopardize more American lives at home or present a lasting threat to Western civilization itself (as WWII always was and as Korea and Vietnam at least seemed to be early on), I'm confident we'd have no problem putting 500,000 troops on the ground (another part of the equation missed when discussing the body count- all those other ocnflicts had more troops involved total, and a greater percentage were combat arms troops rather than combat support troops) and risking a similar number of casualties. but, the simple truth is that the WMD premise was always sketchy, the direct link to al Qa'eda was never realistic, and even with that polls before the war showed majoities opposed to action if it would result in a large number of casualties. It's not that the people have turned on the war, they're doing exactly what the pre-war polls said they would, it's the fault of policymakers for not realizing the realities both at home and abroad that the policy is a complete unsalvageable failure. Americans will always support wars for our own survival or against those who attack us, but those we fight for other more altruistic reasons from Bosnia to Iraq to wherever else, Americans are more leery of sending Americans to die in the name of. It may be selfish and it may seem racist that we value some human life above others, but that's the way it is, and i really don't think any other country is different- it's just othat other countries almost ALWAYS fight their wars for survival, we're one of the few truly committed and with the resources to fight other more idealistic wars.

"Iran is also behind these insurgents, and as soon as we have the capabilities, we MUST take out Iranian nuclear capability as well as their capacity to equip the Shi'a insurgents in Iraq with fresh fighters and weapons."

After "surging" to 165,000 troops in Iraq for the forseeable future, exactly when do you see us being able to do anything about Iran? The Army is already unable to sustain the current force in Iraq and Air Force and Navy personnel are having to fill a lot of their roles right now. The Army is already broken and it's taking the other services down with it. We might launch some airstrikes, bu that won't solve anything other than causing Iranians to rally around their government, more international criticism of the US as the percieved agressor trying to start another war when it can't finish the job in Iraq, not to mention that airstrikes might not be successful in taking out any threats.

This is precisely the problem- we are bogged down, draining more manpower and resources, losing more credibility, creating more enemies, all in the name of a conflict that even were iraq to meraculously turn into a functioning democracy tomorrow it propbaly wouldn't do us much good in the global war other than stop the bleeding. We need to begin to withdraw and regroup. We won the war with Hussein, and we've given the Iraqis ample time to build a rudimentary functioning government. If it breaks apart in Civil War, it's not our fault. We should do what we can to prevent it, we should have the UN declare it a faild state, and we should get a UN-mandate team hopefully with lots of Arab leadership in there to minimize the violence.

"Even with the supposed recruiting power insurgents are gaining from the American presence in Iraq, it is still more conducive to Iraq's security for American forces to stay for the present time."

I care more about America's security, and escalating this conflict is counter to our interests.

"We MUST win the war on terror, and to do that we MUST establish a secure, peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Iraq. Only then can we promote global security and extend liberty to all individuals."

There's a non-sequitor. Just when I thought democratic peace theory had been thrown intothe dustbin of history, we see it again here. There is no need to build a democracy in Iraq in order to win the war on terror. Imposing our values and our systems on other countries isn't the solution and as I went to great lengths discussing it might even be counter productive (especially when they vote to give power to followers of guys like al Sadr).

To win, we need to really focus on a coherent grand strategy for victory. Yes, this means going beyond politics, but I look at the right as the chief offenders. Flr all their talk about being tough and taking the fight to te enemy, it is their very rhetoric that is most problematic in the big picture. Bush scores lots of points with his base talking about things like a clash of civilization and people being with us or against us, but all these words that play well with his base are applauded by our enemies. They WANT a clash of civilizations. They WANT us to choose sides. They love how much our own government inspires terror in the hearts of the people of the US, and they love it when we trample on our own values in the name of security against this menacing threat. It's to their own benefit as much as it has been to the benefit of the poitical right the past few years. If you're an Arab and you're told there's a clash of civilizatins and you must choose between Bush and bin Laden, who are you going to side with? Even if it splits 50/50, that's a whole lot of people against us.

"I've spent several months in Baghdad and there is a TON of wonderful stuff going on that is simply not reported except the futility and despair that I read on occasion in the press."

Which part of Baghdad were you in? Obviously a different place than I was...

"The next time we are attacked we should not retaliate EVER since we simply don't have the stomach to take it. Just quit."

Ok, next time we're hit by a terrorist group, you get to pick the random country to fight against no matter the cost in dollars or life whether it's related to the attack or not.

Posted by: Michael | January 10, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Instead of sending more troops, how about sending more socks to the troops who are there. They get TWO pairs of socks for their entire year's duty. Not to mention unarmored Humvees for the medics who go out with the troops. There they are, in battle, trying to treat casualties and they themselves, as well as the people they are trying to save, are in a vehicle that is unprotected.

Posted by: NoVA | January 10, 2007 11:15 PM | Report abuse

George Bush should be held singularly responsible for every one of the 21,500 that dies in duty of his choice. George Bush is willfully killing American troops. This has to end immediately and he must be held accountable.

Posted by: F&B | January 10, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

The Fix is DOA.

Posted by: F&B | January 10, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

We weren't attacked by Iraq. There is nobody advocating giving up. Those are talking points used to mislead people.

Posted by: Adam Hammond | January 10, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Here's an article from MSNBC on the success of Iraqs Economy. I listen to MSNBC and this story was never reported. Guess it didn't fit into their agenda.

Posted by: Rigo | January 10, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I listened to GW and the main thing I noticed was the same policy being sold in another package.

Posted by: lylepink | January 10, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

It would behoove Mr. Bush to pay attention to the words of his "favorite philosopher" - allegedly his Lord:

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

We have heard so many empty promises and so many blatant lies from this administration that it is amazing that anyone actually pays attention to anything that is said by this administration. Jesus spoke about integrity and credibility, linking a lack of either to the evil one, and while Bush claims to be a believer in Jesus Christ it seems clear from Bush's fruit where his true loyalties lie...

Clearly, the US cannot remain in Iraq indefinitely, serving as little more than target practice for the sectarian militias while trying to play whack-a-mole with the Iraqi resistance. Equally clear are the implications of pulling out of Iraq right now - Iraq's Shiites would slaughter the Sunnis with Iran's backing, then the rest of the Islamic world annihilate the Shiites in Iran and Iraq in retaliation for the ethnic cleansing of their Sunni brothers.

Here's my suggestion - partition the country into Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish semi-autonomous commonwealths under a central confederate government, move three divisions into Kurdistan to keep the Kurds from inciting a Turkish invasion and to maintain a presence in the region, and invite the Arab League to create a multinational force to enforce the Sunni/Shiite border, lest their Sunni brothers be overrun by marauding Shiites.

The obvious wild-card here is Turkey, who absolutely refuses to see an independent Kurdistan on its southern border. Three divisions of US troops should keep Kurdistan from making trouble for Turkey and keep Turkey out of Kurdistan, but if not then there would be nine kinds of hell to pay...

Posted by: Oscar In Louisville | January 10, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

We should just quit in Iraq. That's what the Dems and most of the country seems to want and the national media such as the NYT and the Washington Post fully support this position. I've spent several months in Baghdad and there is a TON of wonderful stuff going on that is simply not reported except the futility and despair that I read on occasion in the press. It was amazing coming back to the states and reading the local press. I felt like I was on a different planet. The next time we are attacked we should not retaliate EVER since we simply don't have the stomach to take it. Just quit. That appears to be Americas new game plan and I hope to god that the next time we are attacked, that its not too bad. I guess its time to nominate Cindy Sheehan for U.N. Ambassador. I'm sure she will get the Posts endorsement.

Posted by: Rigo | January 10, 2007 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Why debate the ideologies here? What is the point of that? The conversation never has to get that far. The fact is that this president and his administration are incompetent - end of discussion.

Name me something - anything - Bush has had as an idea or initiative that has worked out anything but miserably. Can you people who want to "see it through" really want to leave this in the hands of this idiot? You think it's going to be carried out correctly just because in your opinion it has to be done? You don't get your choice of who carries it out, guys! You get this dumbass!

Posted by: achilli | January 10, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I am very ashamed of the mindless Bush-bashing on this forum. Yes, Bush is definitely not the greatest president, maybe we should not have gone to Iraq, but regardless, it would be DISASTROUS and EXTREMELY FOOLISH to attempt to pull out American troops very soon. The Iraqi forces are not capable of sustaining the security of the Iraqi nation without the support of the U.S. military. Even with the supposed recruiting power insurgents are gaining from the American presence in Iraq, it is still more conducive to Iraq's security for American forces to stay for the present time.

And yes, a troop surge will enhance our presence there to more effectively combat the insurgents who are attempting to undermine the security and prosperity of the Iraqi nation. Iran is also behind these insurgents, and as soon as we have the capabilities, we MUST take out Iranian nuclear capability as well as their capacity to equip the Shi'a insurgents in Iraq with fresh fighters and weapons.

We MUST win the war on terror, and to do that we MUST establish a secure, peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Iraq. Only then can we promote global security and extend liberty to all individuals.

Posted by: Josh | January 10, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Mary Margaret I'm with you. Perhaps the entire Bush family would like to serve.

Posted by: KimE | January 10, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Send the Twins in "the surge".

Posted by: mary margaret | January 10, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

The pentagon reports roughly 23,000 non-fatal US casualties so far in Iraq.

Posted by: Adam Hammond | January 10, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

I have a new idea and direction for Iraq. Perhaps President Bush and Vice President Cheney would like to join the 21,000+ troops that will be sent to Iraq and go door to door with them in Sadr City to snuff out the terrorists. I can't think of a better way for them to show their support for the troops and their love for America. Can you?

Posted by: KimE | January 10, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

John, The battle deaths in Iraq are artificially low due to the use of bordy armor. Body armour covers the torso and part of the head. It provides no protection for arms, legs, genitalia, and the face and jaw. As a conseqeunce, while the death rat is relatively low, the *casualty* rate is the same as it was for WWII, Vietnam and Korea. Did you know that more than 60,000 soldiers have permanent 100% physical disabilties from Iraq? That means two or more limbs complete blown off or a head injury so severe that the young man or woman will NEVER be able to care for themselves. Those young people are as good as dead. Did you know that more than 105,000 other casualties have physical disabilties of 50% or more? When you cut through the lies and the double talk, this war has resulted in suffering and casualties that are right in line with Vietnam. It's time to end it.

Posted by: MikeB | January 10, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

"But after what we have wrought, I don't think this is the time to leave."

I understand this sentiment. We should not abandon the good people of Iraq. However, it is argued that our presence is not helping them. We cannot assume that "Americans in Iraq" is the same thing as "supporting the Iraqi people". They don't even want us there (although polling must be tough, I'd guess). This current suggested escalation is politically motivated and pushed by people who have already gotten stuff terribly wrong. Why trust them further? Why disregard the considered opinions of the ISG?

Posted by: Adam Hammond | January 10, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

To repeat the obvious, the Iraqi war has been drastically mishandled -- or rather, the aftermath to the short war has been so mishandled. No need to review the arrogance of Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush, their refusal to listen to Powell and Scowcroft about the decision to go in, or their naivite about how we would be received. I actually was in the camp of Tom Friedman before the shooting, believing that we had a slightly better than 50/50 chance to make things better for Iraqis and the entire Middle East, by deposing someone like Saddam and in theory creating better governance. I very much regret I did not adequately understand how out of touch with reality our leaders were. One of the lessons we were taught in high school was, "Great pride goeth before a great fall." From Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge," if memory serves.

So perhaps it is shocking that I am willing to consider a "surge" of US troops.

We brought the Iraqi people to where they are today. No, we aren't the ones who instigated the sectarian violence, and we aren't the ones carrying it out. But if we hadn't invaded, or if we had found a way to provide more security, much of this bloodshed wouldn't be happening.

It seems to me that we owe it to the people who want to have peace, who don't want to have ethnic cleansing, to do our best, for a while, to help those who aspire to a non-sectarian civil government, to help those who have put their lives at risk in joining the police, on our say-so. I don't think history or the region will look kindly on a country that brings so much violence to a region, and then too quickly washes its hands of the place and abandons people, many of whom in fact do wish for the kind of civic society and personal freedoms from oppression we have in the west.

An argument is made, with legitimacy, that no more U.S. soldiers should die or be wounded in Iraq. If it were not for the reasons stated above, I would agree. If the casualties were substantially higher, I would agree, although I don't know how much higher they would have to be. For perspective, I have just looked up the number of deaths in combat from the last three wars the US was engaged in. In WW II, there were about 292,000 battle deaths. In the Korean War, about 34,000. And in Vietnam, about 48,000. From this review, it is clear that the number of in-theatre deaths in Iraq is extremely low -- about 3,000 at present.

If we could somehow stem the tide of anarchy and ethnic cleansing and sectarian strife that we have, unwittingly, brought down upon Iraqis, I think it would be worth it to the US, and to the world. I don't know if this is possible, but I think it is morally right to try for a period of time. If it turns out that the Iraqi government cannot survive without a prolonged US presence, if it turns out that the militias are too strong over time, then it will be time to go. But after what we have wrought, I don't think this is the time to leave.

Posted by: John | January 10, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

This is not what will plunge George Bush to the title of Worst President Ever.

After this escalation plan blows up in our faces, the American people (and the world, unfortunately) will discover that Bush has no Plan B.

Has anyone asked "what to do if this fails?"

We will look like idiots. All sides.

Worst. President. Ever.

Posted by: Steve G | January 10, 2007 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Define win. It is the theme that emerges from this thread. If you want to argue that my beloved Americans need to die in Iraq so that we WIN, then you need to write down what that means.

Hawks insist that anti-war patriots consider what would happen if we leave. OK. A bloody nightmare. Chaos that resolves into an official attempt at ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis. This causes nearby Sunni governments to pitch in and there is a regional war that causes oil production to drop. The world economy shows the strain and the west finally unites and agrees to do something about it. That action will take a while, and might lead to Americans being back in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iran increases its influence in the middle east and Al Qaida sets up some training camps in the chaotic region. Israel? Who knows what Israel does during this mess, but it could well include unilateral military action.

Is that an alright worst case scenario? I'm being honest. I've considered what might happen if we leave. Now be honest and explain why it is better that we stay. What can you possibly mean by 'win'?

Posted by: Adam Hammond | January 10, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised he has more than 20 percent support at this point.

But, regardless, it's not Must See TV tonight, it's Must Miss TV - I'll be watching something on cable instead.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | January 10, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

How would Americans react to being denied the right to vote when the leaders of the occupying power strutted about making asserting this was a victory for democracy? The anger and outrage Americans would feel is now felt by Iraqis. Resistance to the US occupying forces will increase, and eventually, like all imperial powers, the Americans will be forced to leave - because of the scale of the resistance and because of the chaos wreaked by the occupying forces. Yet before that happens we are likely to see a great deal of violence. The US will attempt to crush all kinds of resistance to their power, which is only likely to become more organized and apparent. Interestingly, none of this came up in the mainstream media when career journalists heaped praise on Reagan shortly after his death. Somehow, amongst the fawning and whining in mainstream and elite circles it was forgotten that the Reagan administration carried out in Central America one of the worst campaigns of state terrorism of the late 20th century. All of this in the context of the present situation in Iraq - one might expect that the media would pick up on the fact that many of the present incumbents in Washington are those who were responsible for the terror in Central America in the 1980s. John Negroponte's appointment as ambassador, as if it was not clear enough by now, tells something of what Bush et al have in store for Iraq.... so maybe the insurgents, are some P.O.ed people, you know the modern day equivalent to those darned redskins consigned to Oklahoma? after having grown up in the rich fertile hills of North Carolina...trail of tears? suck it up frat boyz....or the trail will be yours to be walking... g o o g l e on the word PSYOP and Iraq... have fun...

Posted by: a little food for thought | January 10, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

the misleading word used in daily conversation to convey something that is not true,

_war_ is a lie, a propaganda ploy...

there are oil deals that have been cut, the Iraqi treasury has been looted by the Interim government appointed by John Negorponte and Bush offers them a billion dollars to give him what he wants which is signed contracts by the Iraqi government to give B P E X X O N and S H E L L rights at fabulously low rates to take Iraqs oil off of its hands for 30 years...

do you think somehow the world will not figure it out and the ones that have figured it out wont be angry for centuries?

or did you know this?

wouldn't you like to know that your congress person or Secretary of State had not been consorting w/the enemy?

February 21, 2006 -- The Houses of Bush, Sabah, and Maktoum. The Bush Crime Family's close business dealings with the royal houses of Kuwait (the Sabah family) and Dubai (the Maktoum family) either borders on or is treason according to information received from U.S. military and Persian Gulf sources by WMR.

The Sabah family and their business cohorts are reportedly skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from the shipping of military materiel through Kuwait to U.S. forces in Iraq. Moreover, much of this money is being used to fund the Sunni insurgency in Iraq that is directed against U.S. troops. In 1993, former President George H. W. Bush was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kuwait University and Kuwait's highest honor, the Order of Mubarak the Great. Bush was accompanied on a Kuwait Airways flight by his sons Neil and Marvin and former Secretary of State James Baker III, former chief of staff John Sununu, and Joint Chiefs Operations Director Gen. Thomas Kelly. After the trip, Neil landed lucrative contracts with the Kuwaiti Ministry of Electricity and Water. Marvin secured defense contracts for his clients. Baker nailed down deals for Enron.

Marvin Bush, George W. Bushes brother, served on the board of Securacom (renamed Stratesec), which had contracts to provide security for Dulles Airport and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Securacom's backers included a number of Kuwaitis through a company called KuwAm Corp (Kuwaiti-American Corp.). KuwAm also financially backed Aviation General, formerly Commander Aircraft, which brokered the sale of airplanes to the National Civil Aviation Training Organization (NCATO), located in Giza, Egypt, the hometown of lead hijacker Mohammed Atta and the only civilian pilot training school in Egypt. NCATO has a training agreement with Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida, the flight school that was investigated by the FBI for possibly training at least one of the 911 hijackers.

Posted by: first of all | January 10, 2007 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Michael: That's the best post I think I have ever seen. Well thought out and explanatory. Nice job. I will say that perception is huge in the Arab world, and IMO we can't be perceived as leaving with our tail between our legs.

P.S. Your previous comment was a straw-man at this point. No point in arguing why we're there.

Posted by: FH | January 10, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Which enemy, the Ba'thists, the Sadrists, the Persian Shi'ites in Iran, the Taliban, al Qa'eda? All are different and must be approached differently, and a massive troop presence only plays into their hands, because one thing they all have in common is a history of opression at the hands of western colonists. Islam has been outside the control of Arabs since the fall of the Abassid Empire, and Islamism is a reaction to that. Their hatred of Israel and Zionism is a part of that- Zionism is equal to imperialism for them, and Israel is to them just one more Western colony in a long line of Western colonies in their eyes (Although the Ottomans were Islamic, Arabs consider them to be European opressors). The Persians went Shia in reaction to Ottoman opression of the Shi'ites, and Wahabiism grew in Arabia as a counterbalance to Ottoman dominance of the holy sites and the percieved Western influences on Islam under the Ottomans. untl America figures this history out, we will never understand the mindset of the Arab world, and until we do we stand no shot at winning.

I've explained it before and I'll say it again, Terrorism and insurgencies can best be viewed as a pyramid with four levels:

Top- Leadership- responsible for strategic vision, do not actually carry out attacks
Active Cadre- those who plan and carry out tactical attacks
Active supporters- those who are not members of the organization, but sympathise with it and support it, from housing and money to political support
Passive Supporters- The bottom of the pyramid, and the broadest group. It includes everyone not formally affiliated with either side of the conflict, who thereby allow the organization to flourish. These are the folks who do not like their methods but can understand their reasoning and to an extent can sympathize with it.

Typically, a terrorist is molded from the bottom up, advancing in levels as their attitudes shift.

The problem we run into is that with a large military presence in an area that will for years be suspect of the West and our intentions, the larger our force and the longer our committment, the more precarious our situation becomes. This is already evident looking at polls and perceptions of Iraqis as they gradually grow more disapproving of our presence and as the insurgency expands.

The key is understanding that the war is not won or lost at the top, but at the bottom. Terrorist groups and insurgencies will swin through a population like fish in the sea, the only way to beat that is to turn the sea against it. Cut their recruiting off, turn the population hostile to them, and then they will be defeated. Of you only focus on the top and do so in a manner that further aggrevates the bottom, the cycle of violence never ends. This is why the military operations must be limited and surgical, while the bulk of our ops should be economic, political, and diplomatic, improving our stature while undermining theirs. Prevent attacks from happening, done by deterrence in the Cold War and done by counterterrorist ops today (information warfare, targeted airstrikes, spec ops task forces, etc), while focusing on winning at the bottom. Iraq is merely a war of deterrence that is costing us more than it could ever be worth anymore. You're right, it's not comparable to Vietnam, because at least Vietnam did send a message how committed we were to the policy of containment to a third party enemy that was clearly defined and accountable. Iraq just makes us look foolish. bin Laden knows the key US COG is our economy, and every additional dollar we throw away at this struggle that's NOT EVEN PRIMARILY WITH HIM at this point (nor was it at the beginning for that matter) makes him very happy.

What do we do? Strategic withdrawal.
- Set strict benchmarks to be completed and a timetable for withdrawal to accompany it- sink or swin time for the Iraqi government
- If they sink, we leave a MAGTF in the theater as a rapid response force to stabilize the country (and we let the country and the Congress know about it, not keep it a secret in the hands of the administration like Nixon's plan)
- We follow on the MAGTF with a rebuilding of our presence in the region and we start the process again, allowing for a new government to be put in place and the timed withdrawal of our forces
- All the while, we leave about 15-20,000 spec ops forces in the region specifically with the goal of rooting out AQ-affiliated terrorists in the region, who only make up a small fraction of todays insurgency. Target them with CT ops in precision engagements, not a massive force overwhelming the region

Posted by: Michael | January 10, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

History is a great teacher when it is used to compare simular things/events, and IMO trying to find these are just not here when Iraq is brought into the picture. Nam was a UN resolution i.e. The Gulf of Tonkin. This War in Iraq was started by false reasons and has continued under false reasons, although different ones.

Posted by: lylepink | January 10, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Chris, all - Something I have been writing about for 6 months now, the Army's refusal to even consider a perfectly workable anti-RPG system finally got picked up by MSNBC -

And, there is more. While my son and thousands like him are placed in harms way by RPG's and roadside bombs, an Israeli firm has developed systems that are nearly 100% effective in both detecting and twarting those weapons. We now have roughly 120,000 servicemen returned from Iraq with PHYSICAL injuries accounting for VA disability benefits of 50% or more. There are 60,000 young men with disabilities of 100% - meaning they have completely lost two or more limbs or have suffered a head injury that renders them completely unable to care for themselves. The U.S. Army and the Bush Whitehouse, instead of protecting our soldiers, has awarded an 11 billion dollar contract to a U.S. company to develop an independent system, one that will not retrofit existing vehicles, one that will cost in excess of 2 million dollars to install, one that wont be ready by the best estimates until 2011, and one that (thus far) had failed every single test run! In contrast, the existing system is ready right now, will retrofit on all existing vehicles, even Humvee's, and cost under $200,000.

I'm sick and tired of this WHitehouse putting our sons and daughters in harms way, of them sacrificing our soldiers for nothing, of Bush's posturing and lies and blathered nonsense. I'm also sick of the Demcratic leaderships playing politics with all of this. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are out of control madmen, monsters, that we cannot live with. They need to be impeached and removed from office. We need to make an example of them for all future leaders by punishing them and holding them up to public ridicule. And, we need to do it now! It's time, past time, for this national nightmare to end.

Posted by: MikeB | January 10, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

W knows this won't work. This just means 20,000 more targets for Sunni insurgent IED's. But he certainly can't pull soldiers out of Iraq, so this is his only option. It's a mostake, but it's his only option.

But what about '08 contenders? Hillary and McCain are in the bifggest mess on Iraq. McCain is in a corner, but Hillary has a way out. This sounds bold,
but she must say something after tonight.

Posted by: parker | January 10, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Ineffective strikes that made us look weak. The thing you don't seem to get is that this enemy is going to engage us. This is not the Cold War and it certainly is not Vietnam, nor is it comparable.

Posted by: FH | January 10, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

And, I forgot, what role did Saddam Hussein and Iraq have in knocking down those towers?

Posted by: Michael | January 10, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

That's why you go in and tactically remove a gathering threat. That's why Clinton led strikes against OBL in Afghanistan and Sudan and left a plan in place to be continued. Would have been nice if the Republican congress had gone along with that strategy and used the tools available to us to undermine AQ from the beginning, rather than accusing Clinton of wagging the dog to distract us from what was really a national priority, his sex life...

Posted by: Michael | January 10, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Michael: I forget...when we were containing the Soviet threat, did they destroy two of the largest buildings in New York City. Maybe you can help me out with that one. The terrorists were contained in Afghanistan...weren't they?

Posted by: FH | January 10, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Every single soldier/mercenary/diplomat of american origin should leave Iraq immediately and return home. Youve done enough harm already. Evrybody (outside the good ole USA) knows that the Iraqis would rather have the original demon Saddam or his equivalent rather than the murderous trigger happy american marines running rough-shod over the Iraqis.

Dont blame the militias. You broke it and cant fix it. Take responsibility for your actions and please dont pretend you are doing the Iraqis a favor by staying !! How stupid is that !!

If americans are truly interested in fixing what they broke in Iraq there are numerous solutions. To begin with turn off your darned TV sets and burn the majority of your newspapers or whereever else you get your news. Turn to independant media. Get informed. Try and coax your souls to feel some kind of true compassion , hard as that is given that 'they' are beneath our contempt. Screw this ... its not worth it !

Posted by: reddy, berkeley, ca | January 10, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting to me that the percentage of Republicans who have confidence in Bush is as high as it is (63%) and I wonder whether this is accounted for, at least in part, by former republicans self-identifying as independent as they lose faith with Republican leadership in general and Bush's leadership in particular. Have there been any recent polls on the percentages of people self-identifying as Democrat, Independent, and Republican. Are their noticable trends to be seen in those self-identifications?

Posted by: James | January 10, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, two of the proud 26% are among us...

"Why do liberals think it's o.k. to lose this war?"

I don't, that's why I've been against it from the beginning. This isn't a true war, hasn't been for a long time. It's an occupation which by definition you cannot win. To win a military campaign the key is to seize the initiative, but we cannot do that here. The intiative isn't ours to take, it's the people of Iraq. We're just occupying the territory trying to hold the peace while they step up, without giving them any incentive to do so. Sending more troops and more money in is a further disincentive, not an incentive. We paid no attention to history, culture, or the nature of the conflict we were entering, we just smuggly thought our superior force and training would bring us a quick and glorious victory. It was a complete mistake and has left us more vulnerable than before. Throwing more combat troops and more lives at the problem in a manner that will in the end do us no good whatsoever isn't a solution, it's a recipe for disaster.

The lack of a timetable and clear benchmarks with strings attached combined with Bush's insistance on staying "until the job is finished" (which, by his definition, is probably at least 15 years away) only gives a foreign power veto over the movement of US forces. When did Republicans become such fans of handing control of US troops over to foreign governments, especially unstable ones?

"but President needs to listen to his military and not second guess them"

He is by this very surge he is ordering. It goes against the advice of Gen Abazaid, Gen Casey, Gen Pace, numerous retired personnel, the majority of troops on the ground according to a recent AF Times poll, and even conservative talking heads like Ollie North, Charles Krauthammer, and numerous others. A Zogby poll conducted in Feb 06 showed 72% of troops in Iraq believed they should pull out within a year, including about a quarter who thought they should withdraw immediately. This surge isn't about winning the war, it's about Bush trying to stay politically relevant at the expense of more American lives, and it is despicable.

FWIW- the US presence in Iraq was about 120,000 during the initial invasion ; we "surged" to close to 150,000 for the 2004 elections, largely by extending tours, but we only cut forces back to 135,000, which is the current strength. Just like the increase then was permanent, expect this one to be as well.

"Senator Kennedy is calling the Iraq War President Bush's Vietnam, well it was people like him, a politician that lost the war in Vietnam, not the Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen because they never lost a battle or the Vietnam War."

No, we lost the war because we were never in position to achieve the objectives of the war. War is not about winning battles, war is about imposing political will by force. This means war can only be destructive, not creative. It cannot spread our ideology, it can only seek to destroy an opposing government, institution, or ideology. If the embodyment of the opposition is the state and we can take it down, as was the case with Hitler and Hussein, that's easy enough. If it's an ideology, it's muh harder. The only way to beat an ideology by force is to kill everyone who subscribes to it, and that's a nearly impossible task. The "War on Terror" needs to be much broader than a military struggle, with the military involved only at the tactical and operational levels to keep the spread of terrorism in check and to prevent further attacks. The war is not won or lost there, however. The war is only won by beating the ideology, which is done either by proving it false or allowing it to collapse on its own failures. This is how the Cold War was won, not by invading and defeating the Soviet Union militarily, but by isolating it through containment, engaging in military operations to limit its spread, all the while working economically and diplomatically to erode it from within. The War on Terror will be won or lost in much the same way once America gets over its post-911 blood lust.

If our goal is to "spread freedom and democracy" militarily as the neocon agenda proposes, we can never do that at the point of a gun. We could defeat the VC and even the NVA all day, but at the end of the day we were never going to succeed until the RVN could stand on its own and the people of Vietnam were in a position to stand up for it. That was never going to happen given the way were were fighting the war. We made as many enemies as we killed, just resulting in a never ending cycle of violence. Had we gone back in 1975 and defeated the NVA invasion, we would have just been stuck back in a guerilla war where we left off and they would have restarted the Maoist insurgency plan again. Sadly we face the same problem in Iraq.

We cannot win this war with more troops, we can only prolongue a stalemate until we eventually decide to bail out. It may in fact make matters worse by leaving us with a larger footprint, a more agressive posture, and a continued growing sense of occupation by an angry populus. We are going to have to withdraw eventually and hope the Iraqis can stand up on their own (after all, we won't know if we've succeeded until our troops are out anyways, another reason I love the stated objectives of this war and saying our troops will stay until we've achieved them- the two thoughts are mutually exclusive). When we do, it's gonna be messy. Those calling for the withdrawal aren't to blame for that, the ones who should have seen this disaster coming and chose to unnecessarily begin this invasion anyways (including those on the hill who claim to have seen the light and learned they were wrong) are wholey responsible, and the blood is competely on their hands.

Posted by: Michael | January 10, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I cannot understand this "Support our Troops" term being used when the action by doing so will only surely get more of them killed. The deployment of our military to Iraq was wrong to begin with and the longer they stay in Iraq means more will be killed and injured.

Posted by: lylepink | January 10, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I think what is so apalling about the whole Iraq war situation is the realization by the American people that their president, George Bush, is so narrow, so small, so poorly equipped for any kind of greatness that he cannot face the fact that he has made one of the most colossal blunders in the history of American Foreign policy. He is like a man who buys a fake painting. The more you pay for it the harder it is to accept your mistake. What is so galling to the citizenry is not so much the mistake made but that we will all jointly pay for it with treasuure and lives while trying to be sold a bill of goods that it really was a wise decision all along. The man has no shame. How could you respect a leader like this? Before we are tried to be sold too much, and with apologies to the late Senator Bentsen, I've studied Harry Truman and Mr President, you're no Harry Truman

Posted by: T. Fowler | January 10, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Funny...stopping a civil war seemed so imperative in the Clinton Dems suggest we just let'em go at it. Yea, we'll help you long as things don't get too tough. Nice message to send to our enemies...especially the barbarians we're up against in this fight.

Abandoning Iraq would be an especially heinous action when you consider the fact that we (the U.S.) instigated the war that destabilized the country in the first place. Well, sorry to things up and run boys, but you should be able to solve all your problems yourselves from here on out. Leaving now also guarantees that every friend we have in country gets a bullet in the head.

If we leave, that doesn't give us any say in what kind of government Iraq gets, does it.

How many people are going to help us track the terrorists in that part of the world after we bail on Iraq?

Posted by: FH | January 10, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Proud - I think that it's the responsibility of the Administration to make the case for being there, not the opposition.

The original WMD case was disproven, the second Removal of a Tyrant case has been accomplished, the third Kill the Terrorists case wasn't truly legitimate as most outsider terrorists have entered Iraq since the "Bring 'em on!" gauntlet was thrown down. And, remember the President declared in a 2000 debate with V. P. Gore that he did not believe in "nation-building."

If we are there to stop the fanatic Islamic movement (which has been around for decades now), for Oil, or other things; then the Administration has an ethical responsibility to the American Public and the Armed Forces to explain why those forces continue to be put in Harm's Way.

It's not the responsibility of the opposition to theorize what may happen if their proposals are followed. It would be helpful if they did for reasoned discourse, but it's the Administration's responsibility to make a honest case for why we stay in Iraq. "Because we 'lose' otherwise" doesn't cut it.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | January 10, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

For uncensored news please bookmark:

Bush "signing statement" claims power to read Americans' mail without warrant

by James Gordon Meek, New York Daily News January 4, 2007

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Bush's move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed. It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

"Despite the President's statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.

Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.

"The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.

"The danger is they're reading Americans' mail," she said.

"You have to be concerned," agreed a career senior U.S. official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush's claim. "It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we've ever known."

A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised, "It's something we're going to look into."

Most of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act deals with mundane reform measures. But it also explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval.

Yet in his statement Bush said he will "construe" an exception, "which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent ... with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances."

Bush cited as examples the need to "protect human life and safety against hazardous materials and the need for physical searches specifically authorized by law for foreign intelligence collection."

White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore denied Bush was claiming any new authority.

"In certain circumstances -- such as with the proverbial 'ticking bomb' -- the Constitution does not require warrants for reasonable searches," she said.

Bush, however, cited "exigent circumstances" which could refer to an imminent danger or a longstanding state of emergency.

Critics point out the administration could quickly get a warrant from a criminal court or a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to search targeted mail, and the Postal Service could block delivery in the meantime.

But the Bush White House appears to be taking no chances on a judge saying no while a terror attack is looming, national security experts agreed.

Martin said that Bush is "using the same legal reasoning to justify warrantless opening of domestic mail" as he did with warrantless eavesdropping.

Posted by: che | January 10, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

At least Korea is a nation-state, Judge. We have a chance at diplomacy and negotiation with them. The radical Islamists fight insurgent-style, asymmetrical, ill-defined conflicts, yet they must be crushed whenever possible.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 10, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Dear Steve:

It is time you and your conservative bretheren read a little of the history on Vietnam as you seem to get it wrong. First, let's reel back to the 1930s. The French hold VN as a colony. The Japanese show up. The French split, leaving behind a Vichy sympathizer French government who consort with the Japanese. Ho Chi Minh moves to the hills and jungles and fights the Japanese on the Allied side. War ends. Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese think they will now get their Independence. The Allies in the infinite wisdom let the DeGaullist French take it back as a colony. Very bad move. Ho Chi Minh & Co., who are admirers of Lincoln and Washington, turn to the communists as the only means to independence.

Let's skip the next 20 years, its too depressing to recount, and get to post Tet offensive era. South Vientnam is being run by a very corrupt US backed government. US troops are fighting the Viet Cong and NVA's where? In the central plains? The north? Partly, but we troops are also fighting the Viet Cong in the Mekong Delta. Get out a map. The Mekong Delta is southernmost portion of the south. Remeber Kerry and the Swift boat? That was in the Mekong. Ask yourself this...why are people in the south, citizens of South Vietnam, fighting against the South Vietnamese government? How did the Viet Cong have a main command center a few miles from Saigon for over a decade? The answer is because no one but a handful of elites in the south wanted anything to do with the South Vietnamese government.

Now you guys can complain about this "loss" of Vietnam, but fact is it was a rotten deal from the start. The French got their butts kicked in 1954 and we - stupidly - took the war off their hands. Why? Now, of course, VN is a bustling capitalist economy. Kind of blows the domino theory out the door. Having been there a dozen times over the last 6 years I can say it would have been far better had we let them have their independence in 1946 and been done with it. We continue to do similarly foolish things around the globe, including Iraq.

Posted by: Dee-El | January 10, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and North Korea HAS nukes. Nothing 'potential' about it. Another reason to revive the Korean War and make the sacrifice of the 52,000 Americans who died there worthwhile. Just like Iraq.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | January 10, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

"Right or wrong we are in this war and by God we should stay in it till there is no questions weather we won or lost, just the fact we claimed victory."

Sounds like Steve is volunteering either himself or his relatives for a tour in Iraq. Glad to hear that he has the courage of his convictions.

Also, sounds like he's been writing letters to his congressman or Bush insisting that we go back to 'Nam. Otherwise, his post would be just a bunch of hot, empty air. Should be easy to mount a sea-based invasion since they've got a lot of coastline. We've got to send more Americans to die there to make the sacrifice of the 55,000 who've already died worthwhile, don't we? Makes perfect, indisputable sense to Steve. And hey, what about Korea?

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | January 10, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"I don't necessarily disagree with those who say the U. S. has vital interests there because of Oil, because of Israel, because of Iran and because of Russia. I'd just like for them to be open and honest about it."
Yes, there are lots of vital interests, Nor, that's why this is one of the most difficult decisions the administration has ever made. I'd like to know why the liberals have failed to elucidate what will happen if we bail out now, as they prescribe. Just be honest about it. Do we really want to leave this legacy to our children, with fanatical Islamists in Iran and Syria emboldened the world over and potentially armed with nukes?

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 10, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"These people are no better than Jane Fonda was when she collaborated with the North Vietnamese .."

Exactly, Steve. Most of the liberals have staked their careers and their prestige on America losing in Iraq. It is a shameful day when the majority of Americans believe this liberal garbage about "re-deployment"...we need to stand behind the CIC at this difflicult moment and Support our Troops!

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 10, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Proud - Let me get this straight, we get more G.I.'s and Marines killed, so we don't "lose" somebody else's Civil War.

We successfully entered Iraq, deposed a tyrant, captured the tyrant, made sure that he had a trial far fairer than he ever allowed, were there to see Justice served with his execution, provided all of the Iraqis with an opportunity to run their own country by themselves. That's a helluva lot which we accomplished.

I say we Won! Time to go home.

A Civil War should be between opposing sides in that country. We've done more than any other country has ever done to help others; yet, you're willing to sacrifice the lives of more U. S. Armed Forces so we don't "lose." Even Fox News is beginning to "bail" on what's become a disaster.

Republican Senator George Aiken was right about VietNam. Let's just say we "Won!"

Now, if you have a different reason for us to have to stay there. Let's hear it.

I don't necessarily disagree with those who say the U. S. has vital interests there because of Oil, because of Israel, because of Iran and because of Russia. I'd just like for them to be open and honest about it.

And your reason for staying, with its associated cost in lives, other than the semantical "losing", is....?

Posted by: Nor'Easter | January 10, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Two of the commenters have said we should stay til we win. If you can, please tell me specifically what it means to "win" in Iraq? This is not WWII where "win" means defeating the Axis powers - that is having them cry uncle and putting up the white flag. Dubya says we will stay til win but places no specificity on that. Does win mean the government is finally stable? If so it looks now like the stable government will be a Shia theocracy pledged to ethnically cleanse the Sunnis. In 5 years we will have Moqtada al-Sadr as Prime Minister. Is this what we are spilling blood for?

So for all you red-white-and-blues who keep yelping about winning the war, you first have to say exactly what that means. Only then can we judge (a) a strategy for reaching that objective, and (b) if that strategy is in fact doable. No one in this government has done that so far. They can't because they have no idea what is really going on there. You have to know that to define "win" and then a strategy for getting there. Balls in your court.

Posted by: Dee-El | January 10, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Remember, this is really all about the juicy loot an plunder oil contracts to steal Iraqi resources and the continued theft of U.S. tax dollars through fraudulent government contracts. There's nothing like a little war mongering for the war profiteers who then collect buckets of blood money.

Posted by: KEVIN SCHMIDT, STERLING VA | January 10, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

By the way, ProudtobeGOP, the US presence in Iraq is 132,000 today, but has climbed over 148,000 on several occasions in the past four years. So why you or anyone else think that 153,000 is going to turn anything around is beyond me. Military competence doesn't seem to be a GOP strong suit. In fact, I'm sure Bush himself doesn't believe it's a winning strategy. He's just flailing around, looking for anything that might deflect some of this storm of criticism for a few more weeks or months.

Posted by: OD | January 10, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

It's not Bush's 'surge' idea. The idea came from Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. He advocated it in the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard. A few days after writing his article he was invited to the White House to present his ideas, and a few days after that the Pentagon started talking about its surge option. Kagan himself said no surge smaller than 50,000 would help, but of course now that hes learned only 20,000 are available hes fallen into line like a good little boy and changed his tune.

Posted by: OD | January 10, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Senators Norm Coleman and Sam Brownback have already come out against the 'surge' idea (before the speech has even been 'delivered'.

Posted by: star11 | January 10, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Right or wrong we are in this war and by God we should stay in it till there is no questions weather we won or lost, just the fact we claimed victory. Let's not let war protestors like Rev. Al Sharpton, Susan Sheehan, Susan Sarandon and other weak kneed Americans that would rather our enemies claim victory in this war. These people are no better than Jane Fonda was when she collaborated with the North Vietnamese in their support while they were killing America Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen. If it takes 40,000 more troops to win the war then so be it, but President needs to listen to his military and not second guess them. Senator Kennedy is calling the Iraq War President Bush's Vietnam, well it was people like him, a politician that lost the war in Vietnam, not the Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen because they never lost a battle or the Vietnam War. What lost the war in Vietnam was the American people who protested just like Al Sharpton, Danny Glover, and that traitor Jane Fonda clone Susan Sheehan are doing today. The politicans worried about being reelected and went with the protestors. I hope this doesn't happen with Iraq, but that is the way it is headed. This war goes beyond politics.

Posted by: Steve | January 10, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Ironic this speach comes on the 230th anniversary of Tom Paines Common Sense Declaration

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what the public thinks? The decider is not running for reelection. He wants to be a hero in his Mommy's eyes. How sad for our brave soldiers.

Posted by: elmerg | January 10, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

The Baker-Hamilton report was DOA. We still have a chance to make things better in Iraq IMO. Why do liberals think it's o.k. to lose this war? The new plan is not only military but also includes many other important changes and strategies. Have courage, Mr. President; there are still some who support your decisions.
"the key elements of the president's new plan ...include not only the additional troops but more than $1 billion in additional funding for economic reconstruction, as well as benchmarks for the Iraqi government in meeting such political goals as a new law for distributing oil revenue and the holding of provincial elections.

While U.S. officials said Bush would make clear that there is no "open-ended" U.S. commitment to help Iraq, they said the president would not put any specific conditions on the provision of aid and troops to the Iraqi government, contrary to a recommendation by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Nor will there apparently be a timetable to remove the additional American troops, which will be phased in over the course of several months, swelling the American troop presence in Iraq to roughly 153,000 soldiers.

"When you're trying to empower a government, you don't talk to them in those terms -- you must do this, or else. This is a government we're trying to strengthen,"

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 10, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Let see what the republican senators all say about the speach afterwards
Get a mike in front of them and let them go on record with the folks back home if they are for this
Bet they will run like cockroaches when the TV lights go on

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"Why the Republicans have decided to stake the future of their party on this war is beyond me."

Perhaps this will help answer that question:

Posted by: Peter Principle | January 10, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Why the Republicans have decided to stake the future of their party on this war is beyond me. Our original justifications for being there--WMD, Hussein--are history, and virtually all Iraqis and citizens of other countries don't want us there, as well as most Americans. Let Iraq deal with its own problems.

The supporters roll out the usual domino theories, but in reality, who knows? We made a mess and we're making it worse by staying there.

Bottom line: Bush has singlehandedly turned the word "stubbornness" into a term of opprobrium. The next election will be a cakewalk for the person most un-Bush-like, who presumably will be not only triple-jointed, but extremely flexible in his or approach to governing and making policy as well.

Posted by: Jeff in WI | January 10, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Bush and Cheney need to resign before they are sent to The Hague to face war crimes charges.

President Pelosi can then withdraw the imperialist forces oppressing Iraq.

Posted by: The Only Answer | January 10, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

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