A congressional funding cutoff, which would have to clear a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate and then overcome a presidential veto, would be a political disaster for the Pelosi Democrats. It would threaten needed funds for our troops in the midst of war. How many Democrats would want to vote for that? Bush explained the stakes in Iraq last week without sugarcoating what the future holds, even if his plan succeeds in pacifying Baghdad and the terrorist-infested Anbar province.
"Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties," he said. The question, he added, "is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe it will."
I think we will see a change for the better on the streets of Baghdad with increased troop levels. But if there is one change I would make in the new strategy, it would be a much sharper increase in the number of U.S. forces to train more Iraqi fighters. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group proposed a massive increase in the number of U.S. military trainers by 10,000 to 20,000 to quickly escalate the size and skill of the Iraqi army. Bush's plan would just expand the number of advisers embedded in existing Iraqi forces.
The key to longer-term success and to an eventual drawdown of U.S. forces is a larger, better-trained Iraqi security force that can bear the brunt of the fighting and kill more of the enemy. That side of the military equation must be ramped up beyond anything that is now being contemplated.
Meantime, Bush is fully committed to his new strategy. He has received new promises from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to commit additional brigades to the war and to get a lot tougher combating sectarian violence. He is bringing new generals into Iraq and the region, and a new ambassador into Baghdad, to carry out the plan.
He is embarked on this course because all of the other options, such as a phased withdrawal this year, were nonstarters in his mind -- signaling to the terrorists that they had won, that we would back down in the face of their threats and that would make us and the free world more vulnerable to their attacks.
It was perhaps the toughest and loneliest decision of his presidency but one that was made solely to keep our country safe.