Who Cares What You Think?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, December 13, 2006; 12:14 PM

Despite polls consistently showing that a majority of Americans want American troops pulled out of Iraq in short order, President Bush is refusing to even consider that option.

In fact, signs are that he is leaning in the opposite direction, choosing to send yet more troops into harm's way.

And despite the obvious, palpable urgency, Bush this week decided he needs more time to think things through -- rescheduling until some unspecified point in the new year an announcement the White House had previously said would come before Christmas.

Doubling Down

John King reported on CNN yesterday: "I talked to a number of senior administration officials today and also some of the outsiders who have been consulted by the administration a part of this review, including one retired general. . . .

"These officials all believe the president is planning to do something big. He is planning to do a substantial policy shift. And one of the sources I spoke to said he believes the president is very seriously considering, in the short-term, agreeing with Senator John McCain and increasing U.S. troop levels in the short-term and also resisting the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. . . .

"[T]he president, we are told, has asked for more advice about how could he do it? If he wanted to send in 20,000, 15,000 more troops for a few months to try to improve the situation, primarily in Baghdad, how could that happen?

"So they need more time to put all that on the table. They need more time for the new defense secretary to study it."

It sounds a bit like the last gasp of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his fellow neocons.

Julian E. Barnes writes in the Los Angeles Times: "As President Bush weighs new policy options for Iraq, strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to 'double down' in the country with a substantial buildup in American troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government.

"The Joint Chiefs of Staff will present their assessment and recommendations to Bush at the Pentagon today. Military officials, including some advising the chiefs, have argued that an intensified effort may be the only way to get the counterinsurgency strategy right and provide a chance for victory. . . .

"Such an option would appear to satisfy Bush's demand for a strategy focused on victory rather than disengagement. It would disregard key recommendations and warnings of the Iraq Study Group, however, and provide little comfort for those fearful of a long, open-ended U.S. commitment in the country. Only 12% of Americans support a troop increase, whereas 52% prefer a fixed timetable for withdrawal, a Los Angeles Times/ Bloomberg poll has found."

And it's not just the public that's against it.


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