20,000 More Troops

Armstrong Williams

1/22/2007 12:00:49 AM - Armstrong Williams

I strongly supported President Bush when he declared war on Iraq and sought regime change there once and for all. I adamantly defended President Bush when he outlined his post-Saddam Hussein plan to stabilize Iraq and rebuild it as a free and democratic country. I staunchly backed our President when he asked the country for patience and Congress for more money to win the war. But after last week’s speech in which he laid out plans to send in another 21,500 US troops to Baghdad, my support stopped.

After the President’s prime-time speech last week, I was able to speak with individuals on the ground in Iraq. They emphatically blasted the decision, saying that the President’s optimism didn’t match the “reality of the situation.” Adding 20,000 more troops - in their estimation - changes nothing, as long as the inept Iraq government is expected to meet the challenge expressed by the President in his speech. Relying on the Iraq government and President Maliki to be more responsible and accountable is a joke. His authority has never been demonstrated, and there is no evidence that he will step up to the plate now. His police and security forces are so infiltrated by militias, that they can never be trusted to do what's in the best interest of their country. They are bought and paid for by money, loyalty to the insurgents, and a genuine distrust and disgust of American presence there. Experts say that the security forces and perhaps government officials are involved in matters unduly sectarian, and are abusive and inhumane to Iraqi citizens. My sources on the ground believe Maliki feels no loyalty to President Bush or the Iraq people, and is just an enabler for the massive violence and destruction that continues.

To me, this seems like more of the same from our President. It sounds like the build up plan from last summer, only this time he admitted past mistakes (“Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”), and added a few guidelines for the Iraqi government (Iraqis should dedicate $10 billion for reconstruction efforts, deliver three brigades for Baghdad effort, and crack down on all insurgents and extremists, regardless of sect or religion.). But the fact remains, President Bush is spurning the opinion of the American public (recent polling shows 70 percent of Americans are against sending more troops to Iraq), ignoring the Iraq Study Group plan, and acting against the majority of Congress. At this point, one has to wonder if the President is being stubborn or just getting misleading information.

There is no reason to believe that the President’s latest plan will work. We’ve been imbedded in Iraq for years now, and noticeable progress there is hard to find. Most people believe the country is in the midst of a civil war, with sectarian violence raging everyday. Of course, there's always hope that this plan will work, especially from soldiers following the lead of the President. Young officers are willing to risk their lives for this fight, but based on what they’re seeing, they believe victory is out of reach. If an infantryman isn't complaining, then you know something is wrong. Some of these men and women are on their third or fourth tour of duty. These extensions breach the promise they were given by their Commander in Chief and our military. And you cannot discount morale in wars, even in this day and age. Our soldiers cannot have the same motivation as our enemy’s, who has nothing to live for except this fight.

As part of President Bush's new strategy, about 10,000 Iraqi troops will deploy to Baghdad in the coming weeks. Possibly half of these troops could be Kurdish, bringing a new facet into the bloody and complex struggle. Most Kurds live in a protected region and do not want to get involved in a fight between Shiite and Sunni Arabs. Most Kurdish troops are not familiar with Baghdad, do not speak English or Arabic, and show the greatest loyalty to leaders from their own ethnic group, even if they are with another fighting force. Furthermore, the Kurds and Arabs have been fighting over government posts and political power since the 2003 American-led takeover. After generations of mistrust, the divide between these groups has only grown wider in recent years. To expect them to work together now is unreasonable, and will only result in more chaos and bloodshed.

I appreciate our President’s fortitude and admire his willingness to make a decision and stick with it. However, in this case history isn’t on his side. He is undermining the war effort by ignoring the people who elected him and bypassing lawmakers, experts, and Congress. Despite Vice President Cheney’s recent claim that “you cannot run a war by committee,” President Bush and his advisors must work with Congress on new strategies if they wish to see a successful end to this war.