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The Nation

A Surge of Insanity

Katrina Vanden Heuvel

Just one day after a majority of Iraqi lawmakers rejected the continuing occupation of their country, the Washington Postreports that the Pentagon will begin deploying 35,000 soldiers in 10 Army combat brigades to Iraq in August --"making it possible to sustain the increase of US troops there until at least the end of this year."

It turns out that the "short-term surge" is just another way of saying a war without mission or end. If it's true what the LA Times reported about Secretary of Defense Robert Gates not being on board with the "surge" policy, then who's pushing for this new policy? Not former Generals like John Batiste and Paul Eaton who, today, go on the air in a TV ad sponsored by "You did not listen, Mr. President," General Batiste says in the ad. "You continue to pursue the failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps."

You'd think that a significant development involving more than half of the members of Iraq's parliament signing a legislative petition calling on the US to set a timetable for withdrawal would get some media attention. But with the exception of Alternet's story, it went virtually unreported in the US media. Instead, the New York Times devoted a front page story to Iraq's national security adviser trolling the halls of Congress trying to persuade American lawmakers to have more patience and remain as occupiers in his land. Nor have we seen front page stories reporting that in a March poll, sixty-nine percent of Iraqis surveyed said the presence of US forces in their country make the overall security situation worse.

The Iraqi Parliamentarian's courage should give Democrats the spine to stand firm --and the strength to play hardball with a President who smears those who seek a speedy end to this occupation. "Confronting Mr. Bush on Iraq,' Paul Krugman wrote, "has become a patriotic duty.'"


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Meanwhile, in addition to the staggering, horrifying human and financial costs of this war and occupation (price tag for Iraq soon to top $500 billion and counting), it's now clear that the continuing deployment of personnel and equipment is endangering our security at home. The Kansas tornado has simply refocused attention on how the sending of National Guardsmen (and lots of equipment) from Kansas to Iraq has got in the way of tornado relief work, just as it impeded relief work in New Orleans after Katrina.

For four years and counting, the situation has "been spiraling down into the Night of the living Dead," as Juan Cole described it earlier this week. But Bush refuses to confront the failure of his Iraq debacle--preferring delusion and denial to listening to Congress or a majority of Americans who support setting a deadline for withdrawal.

Meanwhile, here's yet another cost of this immoral war --one that you'd think this President would pay some attention to: "Bush's evangelical supporters," Cole reports, "who wanted an Iraq war imagined Iraq as a target for missionary work. Not only have no Iraqis to speak of become Southern Baptists, but Bush's war has displaced tens of thousands of indigenous Iraqi Christians from the country."

Katrina Vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.

© 2007 The Nation

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