I can remember being in Barcelona when we first went to war in Iraq. The president of Spain at the time, Aznar, was a supporter of the war, but I guess a lot of people were back then. I was busy reading all of the liberal rags I could. All of the reports in the Guardian and blogs saying there were no "weapons of mass destruction" and that the war itself was based on hidden agenda. Or the Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq report from before the war began saying that
Being overseas, I wasn't caught up in the fervor that was going on over here in US. I remember coming home at Christmas and being stunned that so many people were already convinced that war was inevitable. Hadn't they been reading what I was reading? Why was everyone so scared of someone who hadn't attacked the US; who was too busy trying to milk money from UN programs and oppress his own people to care about us?
R and I went back to Spain and I can honestly say that I was surprised when Bush issued his ultimatum and we actually started bombing Iraq 50 hours later. The political climate in the Barca was staunchly anti-war. R and I participated in any way that we could. We walked in marches for peace and we all banged pots and pans out the windows at 10pm on set days to protest the war. Part of this was because we were so against what was going on, but another part of it was to try to prove to our Spanish neighbors that not all Americans were fools.
I noticed a definite difference in my students' attitudes towards me after the war moved into full swing. They started asking me more and more if I agreed with what was going on in Iraq, if I thought all Americans really wanted the war. I had to defend myself and my country. I didn't tell them that Americans were stupid. Instead I tried to explain what I had seen when I went home: that the government and the military industrial complex were spoon feeding the media and they in turn were convincing the public of complete and utter lies. That the debate had been set as "war now or war later" and that they probably would have felt the same way had they been under the same media pressure as other people in the US.
Bush gives a speech tonight wherein he'll ask for a troop escalation of 21,000 men and women. According to this article in USA Today "President Bush will acknowledge in an address to the nation tonight that U.S. policy in Iraq has failed and will send in 21,500 more troops to try to quell sectarian violence and bolster the Iraqi government, according to a senior administration official."
But according to another article of theirs summarizing the Iraq Study Group report: "The commission recommended the number of U.S. troops embedded to train Iraqis should increase dramatically, from 3,000-4,000 currently to 10,000-20,000. Commission member William Perry, defense secretary in the Clinton administration, said those could be drawn from combat brigades already in Iraq."
I'm torn as to whether more troops are a good idea or a bad idea. I suppose it's best to turn to the experts in situations like this, since I'm not much of a military planner. Of course, it doesn't give me a great deal of hope Bush is "pulling away from his generals" or that the Iraq Study Group report talks about more troops to train the Iraqi army, not for combat.
How about the Op-Eds? What do they have to say? Let's see:
Washington Post - Froomkin says that Bush isn't changing strategy by sending 20,000 troops, just changing tactics.
Guardian - Like a deluded compulsive gambler, Bush is fuelling a new cold war: With air strikes on Somalia and a surge in troops in Iraq, he is staking everything on a finale he can call victory.
Post again - Cohen explains that Bush is the decider and that
Hrm... maybe the editors at the WS Journal can do better:
Or how about the Weekly Standard?
by a rapid increase in the size of the force in Iraq by around 30,000 troops, and will signal a sharp departure from the failed Rumsfeld-Abizaid-Casey minimalist approach.
Oh well. I can't say that I agree that sending 20,000 more troops is going to help. I think that, had there been more from th beginning; had we not used Rumsfeld's strategy of having a smaller more agile force on the ground, things would be different now. I also think that we never should have gone there in the first place... but it's all together too late for that now.
The saddest part of all: there's nothing that anyone can do to stop "the decider" from deciding. He'll send however many troops he wants until congress does something drastic and that's that. I think I'll write my (non-voting) congresswoman.