Thursday, January 11, 2007


Ever check out the on-line edition of the Oregonian? Great paper. Often their editorials make more than a lot of sense - it's like the gospel. Believe it or be damned.

Here's today's Oregonian editorial speaking to last night's Bush speech:


'New way forward' is too little, too late

The poor execution of the war has exhausted America's patience

Thursday, January 11, 2007
The Oregonian

If we were still optimists, we might believe that President Bush's speech Wednesday offered a path to success in Iraq. Or at least a real recognition that American strategy -- military and political -- must change there.

But the lessons of the last four bloody years in Iraq leave no more room for optimism. And the president's repetition of familiar themes about the need for "victory" brings us no closer to believing that 21,500 more U.S. troops and some tough talk to the Iraqi government will turn things around.

It is time to concede that victory in Iraq is a mirage. It is time to begin withdrawing American troops. A U.S. military solution to Iraq's civil war seems beyond reach now. If there is a political solution -- within Iraq or regionally -- our continuing occupation of the country would seem to make it harder to achieve.

We cannot leave precipitously and, in any case, we have obligations to those who have worked with us in Iraq, especially in Kurdistan, which is hemmed in by hostile neighbors. But we must show -- not merely declare -- that our commitment to a recalcitrant Iraqi government has reached its limit. America's greatest national interest in Iraq now should be to withdraw its young men and women from an unproductive fight.

The immediate political burden falls not just on the president, but also on the Democratic Congress, which should do all that it can reasonably can do to change the United States' direction in Iraq. Even if it can't stop the deployment of additional troops, it should steadily hold the White House accountable for its decision to send them to war.

The president still believes victory can be salvaged from Iraq's turmoil. He says victory is essential to create a Middle Eastern state that is America's ally in the war on terror. But his new way forward leans heavily on some dubious assumptions.

It assumes that the Iraqi government will finally treat Sunnis, Kurds and Shia with equal favor: that the Iraqi army and police forces will become more disciplined and reliable, and that sending 21,500 U.S. troops to join the 132,000 already there will make a decisive difference in the level of security in Iraq.

Bitter experience argues against those assumptions. Add the escalating costs in American blood and dollars and the obvious strains on the Army, Marines and National Guard and America's course is clear.

The president's speech Wednesday would have been far more persuasive if it had been delivered 18 to 24 months ago, when it was becoming clear that the United States had underestimated the resistance of Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters. It wouldn't have been too late to believe that a new military approach, combined with the outcomes of the successful Iraqi elections, could still lead to the emergence of a peaceful, democratic country.

But that moment has passed. It's too late now to believe that an increase in U.S. troops is anything more than what Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith has called President Bush's "Hail Mary pass" in hope of a victory.

Great Britain says it won't increase its forces in Iraq, and most of the rest of the military coalition has disappeared. The president is almost entirely alone in believing that the United States can still effect a victory in Iraq.

The most encouraging things to come from the president's speech are the recognition that previous tactics have failed to stop Iraq's civil war and the promise that America has reached a breaking point with the Iraqi government if it fails to act to quell the insurgency. Both developments are long overdue.

But a sustained, heavy commitment to Iraq is too heavy a burden on American troops, their families and the military. Congress should call the question. And American troops should begin coming home. "

I don't think that anyone could have put this sentiment any better.

The nearly forgotten comedy team of Laurel and Hardy: Laurel once said to Hardy, "This is a fine kettle of fish you've gotten us in."

Are you listening President Bush?

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