Posted: 01/11/07 03:19, Edited: 05/26/13 11:25
By Christopher Truscott
In his address to the nation Wednesday night, in which he announced he'll send 20,000 more troops into Iraq's bloody civil war, President George W. Bush said "millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence."
He was talking about Iraqis, but the same is true here. Americans of all political ideologies are ready for an end to the war, which enters its fifth year in March. We're tired of the financial cost and we despair at the human toll as every few months a grim milestone is reached as more of America's bravest make the greatest sacrifice for a terrible cause.
Wednesday night, and at various times over the last four years, the president declared the "advance of freedom is the calling of our time."
He's right, to some degree. The American people stand by all those who dream of liberty while living under tyranny in the most hellish regions of the world. But ultimately freedom has to come from within. It can't be imposed on people; they must rise up and take it and then do the work required to sustain it. That hasn't happened in Iraq.
The Bush administration's greatest success stories in advancing the freedom agenda didn't come on the battlefields of Afghanistan or Iraq. They came in places like Georgia, Liberia and the Ukraine, where America stood behind the millions of brave citizens who demanded democratic elections and a fair counting of the votes.
In Iraq, however, Sunni and Shiite extremists have spent the better part of the post-Saddam Hussein years trying to settle centuries-old grudges. The civil war doesn't have a clear-cut "good" and "evil." It's violent shades of gray and we can't possibly take sides. Whose death squads do we support? Do we support violence-inciting-Iranian-backed Shiite clerics or al-Qaeda-sponsored Sunni terrorists?
For seven decades American leaders have opted between the lesser of many evils in the Middle East. We've backed oppressive regimes in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia ? and in Iraq we once supported a ruthless dictator. We can do better. It's time to put America first and it's time to bring our troops home.
This year, as the Iraq Study Group recommended, should be one of transition. As American troops exit, real Iraqi leaders must emerge. But that's not the president's plan. He's escalating a conflict that no number of American troops can really win. We deserve better.
As details of the president's plan were leaked earlier this week, Republicans and Democrats alike came out against deploying more troops. The president, the leader of American democracy, should honor the wishes of the people and their elected representatives.
If Bush wants more troops in Iraq, he must ask Congress. Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy and Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, a former war supporter, are right. The 2002 use of force resolution is outdated. The U.S. Congress backed a war against Saddam and the weapons of mass destruction threat he was believed to pose. That matter has long since been settled.
If the president doesn't ask for additional authorization from Congress, members of the House and Senate shouldn't hesitate to cut off funding for further deployments to Iraq. We have an obligation to support the troops who are already there, but we shouldn't send thousands more into a cycle of violence that is only getting worse.
The president is a desperate man. Long gone are the days of the leader who rallied the country in the weeks and months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. His legacy is now a modern-day Vietnam. Fortunately we can learn from history.
Congress has a clear choice: our elected officials can either be the president's enablers or they can turn over a new page in U.S. history.
Christopher Truscott can be reached at email@example.com. There's no need for a joke today.