Where's the Outrage Over Escalation?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; 2:28 PM

The American voters in November made it clear that it's time to start withdrawing from Iraq. Political leaders from both parties and any number of experts are increasingly coming to the realization that American soldiers are dying, day in and day out, in pursuit of an unattainable goal.

So what is President Bush about to do? By all indications: escalate. His "new way forward" in Iraq appears to call for more troops -- along with a series of other measures that might have helped if he'd taken them three years ago.

News reports suggest that Bush's plan is not likely to win enthusiastic support, even from within his own party. But my question is: Where's the outrage?

If the vox populi and the cognoscenti agree that throwing more American bodies at the problem will only result in more American deaths, then how is the apparent Bush plan anything short of a betrayal of the troops and an expression of contempt for the will of the people?

The Plan

Official word is that Bush hasn't yet made up his mind, but every indication is to the contrary: That Bush threw his support behind a "surge" in early December (see my December 15 column) and that in the interim, his national security team has been scrambling to find some post-hoc pretext to make it sound like there's a "specific mission" that such an escalation can achieve.

Yochi J. Dreazen and Greg Jaffe write in the Wall Street Journal: "White House officials say a troop 'surge' almost certainly will be the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's new strategy for Iraq to be unveiled mid-month. But while administration officials have gone to great lengths to emphasize that the extra troops will be in Iraq only temporarily, there is no clear definition of how long that might be. . . .

"The debate over how long the new forces should remain in Iraq stems from tension between the political and military aspects of the emerging proposal. Mr. Bush has staked his presidency on Iraq, and several White House aides say they believe he would be inclined to leave the extra troops there until improvement is evident. Senior commanders, by contrast, have expressed concern that leaving extra troops too long risks lasting damage to the U.S. armed forces."

Meanwhile, the intellectual architect of the "surge", Frederick W. Kagan, admits to the Journal: "If we surge and it doesn't work, it's hard to imagine what we do after that."

Justin Webb reports for the BBC: "The BBC was told by a senior administration source that the speech setting out changes in Mr Bush's Iraq policy is likely to come in the middle of next week.

"Its central theme will be sacrifice.

"The speech, the BBC has been told, involves increasing troop numbers."

But if Bush intends to say he owes it to the soldiers who have already died to step up the fight, there's a good indication that won't work either, as I wrote in my December 14 column.

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