Stop the Iraq escalation

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EDITORIAL The more the evidence shows the war in Iraq is a failure that's only getting worse, the deeper the denial seems to be at the White House. Earlier this month President George Bush made clear that he wouldn't follow the Iraq Study Group's recommendations for a withdrawal deadline. Now he's going a huge step in the opposite direction: he's suggesting the United States send as many as 30,000 more troops to Iraq. This is insanity and another good reason why Congress needs to begin hearings on impeachment.

Almost everyone who is paying any attention to the situation thinks more US troops would be at best a waste of a lot of lives and money and at worst a cause of further instability in the region. General John Abizaid, the senior military commander in the Middle East, told the New York Times that bringing more soldiers into Iraq from abroad would only increase tensions. "[Abizaid] argues that foreign troops are a toxin bound to be rejected by Iraqis, and that expanding the number of American troops merely puts off the day when Iraqis are forced to take responsibility for their own security," the Times reported Dec. 19. General George W. Casey Jr., who commands the ground troops in Iraq, agrees with that assessment. According to the Washington Post, the Joint Chiefs of Staff do too — and are arguing against expanding the US force.

The clear majority of military leaders agree that the armed forces are stretched too thin by this war; that units being forced into repeated, longer deployments are coming unglued; and that there simply aren't enough available troops to meet Bush's goals. That means existing deployments would drag on even longer, more reservists would be called up, more National Guard units would be sent into a war they were never trained to fight — and it means more and more soldiers will be coming back in body bags.

But Bush (who has argued in the past against "politicizing" military decisions) doesn't seem to care. He has asked the Pentagon to look at adding between 15,000 and 30,000 more troops to the quagmire and will likely announce in early January that he will escalate the war instead of moving to end it.

Not all the Democrats are standing in his way either: Sylvester Reyes, the new head of the Intelligence Committee, told Newsweek recently, "We're not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies. We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq.... I would say 20,000 to 30,000 — for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military."

That nonsense has to stop. The Democrats control the Senate and House today for exactly one reason: people in this country are sick of the war. If the Democratic Party wants to remain in power for more than two years and have any chance of recapturing the White House, incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid need to immediately make clear that they won't allow Bush's plans to go forward.

Fiscal sanity alone makes a compelling argument: Bush's escalation would bring the total cost of the war in Iraq to $600 billion — more than the United States spent in the entire Vietnam War (even adjusted for inflation).

The quickest way to end this madness is for Congress to cut off funding for any additional troops — and for the leadership to allow articles of impeachment to be introduced, debated, and voted on. *