Now it looks like Bush is doing something like that. Rumsfeld's resignation was announced the day after the election; Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has been moved over to State; Abizaid's retirement has been announced; and Gen. George Casey, the on-the-ground commander in Iraq, is being moved out early. Bush is reported to be planning a "surge" of additional troops into Iraq to establish order in Baghdad and Anbar province. Clearly, the president is changing tactics and maybe even strategy.
Many Democrats are calling this "escalation" and are swearing they'll oppose it. For those who see Iraq through the prism of Vietnam, a surge is something like Richard Nixon's invasion of Cambodia, an intensification of a war that never seems likely to go away.
I have been of the view that the Democratic Congress would not use its legislative powers to bar an increase in troop levels, for fear they would be seen as not supporting the troops already there (and for fear they couldn't get majorities on the floor), and I still think that's unlikely. There's a danger in being seen as promoting an American defeat. But the left wing of the Democratic Party will be calling loudly for defunding the war, and as we saw last week, in a jarring episode during the festivities, Cindy Sheehan can outshout the Democratic leadership.
I think we're going to see a very loud and bitter clash, one that will contrast vividly with the graceful words of Pelosi and Boehner on opening day. One side wants American victory and success, though it cannot promise that they are certain; the other wants only exit, without regard to the consequences. The 110th Congress will be no more devoid of controversy and angry partisanship than the First.
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