The Bush administration's plan to beef up the U.S. military presence in Iraq is likely to create a new wave of protests across the United States in the coming days.
As Bush is expected to announce his plans Wednesday to send approximately 20,000 more troops to Iraq, anti-war groups say they will hold rallies and sit-ins in dozens of cities across the nation to press the U.S. Congress to thwart any troop escalation.
Within 24 hours of Bush's announcement, there will be protests all over the country, according to Tom Andrews, former Congressman and director of Win Without War, one of the largest anti-war coalitions.
Andrews' group, which is working closely with United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), another major anti-war umbrella group, has planned a series of protests, including a Web-based campaign to push Congress to block Bush's plans for Iraq.
In addition to rallies and sit-ins, the campaign includes personal YouTube.com appeals and photos calling for legislators in Washington to reject Bush's strategy for Iraq and call for an end to the occupation.
Those participating in the Web-based campaign have already begun to download
"No" signs, with petitions urging Congress to exercise its powers of the purse to block any escalation of war in Iraq.
"It is unbelievable that after the voters and the Iraqis said they want and end to this war, Bush is going to escalate it," said Leslie Cagan of UFPJ. "He was wrong to begin the war and he is wrong to prolong it even one more day."
Cagan called the Iraq war "outrageous," and demanded that Bush recall all U.S. troops from Iraq.
For his part, however, Bush has made clear that he not only intends to increase the size of the U.S. army in Iraq, but would also seek further funding for the war.
Some reports suggest that next month Bush is likely to ask Congress for emergency funding for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and what he calls the "war on terror" that would bring total military spending for fiscal year 2007 to more than $110 billion.
The expected request for increased funding, if approved, would bring total spending on the war to more than $500 billion.
But given the changed political climate on Capitol Hill, indications are that Bush's effort to boost funding and troop levels may not succeed. Now that they hold leadership positions in both houses of Congress, many Democrats are becoming increasingly critical of Bush's Iraq policy.
Calling the previous Congress a "rubber stamp" for Bush's Iraq policy, senior Democratic senator Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), in a speech Tuesday, said the Democrats would strongly oppose any further military escalation in Iraq.
"It would be another mistake," he told reporters in Washington. "We must change course in Iraq, not escalate. American people voted for change. We have a solemn obligation to say we have heard their voices."
In response to Bush's perceived plan for sending more troops, Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, took a similar stance.
"Congress is ready to use its authority of oversight to question what is the justification for this spending, what are the results we are receiving," she told the CBS television program Face the Nation.
Like Kennedy, Pelosi made it clear that Democrats would not accept military escalation, but said they were not in support of reducing funding for troops already in Iraq.
Last week, Pelosi sent a letter to Bush saying there should be no increase in troops, while emphasizing the need for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, tens of thousands--and by some estimates hundreds of thousands--of Iraqi civilians have died while U.S. forces have also lost more than 3,000 troops.
Anti-war groups said this week's campaign against the military escalation would culminate in a major national march on Washington on January 27. That event will be followed by a series of activities, including an interfaith peace service and a day-long program to educate legislators about the devastating consequences of the war.
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