Sunday, January 14, 2007

Terrific commentary from Nicholas Kristof:
Once again the White House is seeking military solutions that are likely to rebound and hurt us. Sending more young Americans into that maelstrom may well have three consequences: inflaming Iraqi nationalism, bolstering Shiite and Sunni extremists alike, and killing more young Americans.

A U.S. military study in 1999, recently declassified and in the National Security Archive, concluded that even 400,000 American troops might not be able to stabilize a post-Saddam Iraq. The study emphasized the importance of diplomacy to engage Iraq’s neighbors.

But President Bush is moving in the opposite direction. Most worrying, he is hinting at engaging Syria and Iran not diplomatically but militarily. We are careering down a road that may ultimately lead to military strikes on Iran — a disaster.

What would a better strategy look like? A good bit like the one advocated by the Iraq Study Group. It would emphasize engaging neighbors, a big push for political compromises within Iraq, steps toward troop withdrawals and an intensive effort to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace. (Condi Rice is planning this last effort.)

Would this strategy work in Iraq? No one knows. But such a bipartisan plan might at least bring a bit of healing to the U.S.

Meanwhile, history comes around in other ways. The Rev. Bob Edgar, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches, recalls that as a young congressman in April 1975, he encountered a similar presidential request for a surge of troops. It was a demand by President Gerald Ford for more U.S. forces to stabilize Saigon.

A White House photo captures Ford conferring with two of the architects of that request: senior administration officials named Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

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