Surge promises more casualties

President Bush has pursued an unrealistic military objective with blind conviction.

In 1969, during the throes of the Vietnam War and shortly after the end of Dean Rusk’s term as secretary of state, the Washington Post published an editorial about his tenure. The editorial began like this: “Sometime around the middle of his awesome eight-year term as Secretary of State, Dean Rusk took a sighting on a distant objective in the Vietnam War, lowered his head, and charged.”

Remarkably, the metaphor of a hell-bent, charging bull can be used with the same precision more than 30 years later. President Bush and his administration have pursued an ill-defined and unrealistic military objective with blind conviction. When pre-war inspections found no weapons program, they kept on charging. When no discernable link between al-Qaida and Iraq turned up, they kept on charging. As the number of casualties climbed, as sectarian warfare erupted, they kept on charging.

The proposed “surge” in troops is yet another page of the same story. Hope for a peaceful solution to the Iraq War has all but dimmed in this country. Still, the administration keeps charging. Bush’s new plan would deliver 21,500 more troops to the country, with the majority of them going to Baghdad. It will cost another $6 billion. And it will keep us there even longer.

The plan has many intentions, but only one promise: more casualties. It hopes to stabilize the country so Iraqi forces can take control, but our efforts can do nothing to stem sectarian fighting, which has become the real conflict. The Iraqi military has proven itself worthless, and the Iraqi police forces often double as death squads. Moreover, the Shiite-controlled Iraqi government has done little to stop the fighting. Make no mistake; these are not obstacles a temporary surge in troops can overcome.

The war in Iraq was lost long ago. So the question becomes, when will it stop? This administration shows no sign of relenting, and what else could we expect from a group that took nearly four years to even acknowledge that mistakes have been made. Unfortunately, it still seems poised to keep charging in the same direction, its head lowered, whether it’s toward a cape or a cliff.