When a surge isn’t a surge

When a surge isn't a surge

Main Entry: barrage

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: profusion

Synonyms: assault, attack, blast, bombardment, burst, deluge, hail, mass, onslaught, plethora, rain, shower, storm, stream, surge, torrent.

Source: Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.3.1)

Copyright © 2007 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Antonyms: decrease, reduction, disperse, empty, retreat, scatter, thin out.

It's becoming more and more difficult to determine just what will be happening, in terms of military forces in Iraq, in the near future.

President Bush and his administration recently stated they are changing strategy. The Pentagon is in the midst of implementing Bush's order to raise troop levels by 21,500, part of a plan to help quell sectarian violence in Baghdad. This "surge" of military forces, at the time, seemed to fit nicely with all the synonyms listed above. We are going to deluge Iraq with more men and might in an effort to stop the roadside blasts, the suicide bombings of everything from markets to places of worship, and the downing of our very sophisticated Blackhawk helicopters.

But wait. What's the whooshing sound? It's not the noise of more troops crossing the border into Iraq. It's the sound of the vacuum left by the pending reduction in forces there.

Last Wednesday, Great Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a new timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, the BBC reported.

Blair also told the House of that a total of about 3,000 British soldiers will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. said, quoting government officials who weren't further identified.

As recently as late last month, Blair rejected opposition calls to withdrawal British troops by October, calling such a plan irresponsible. Blair, who has said he will step down as prime minister by September after a decade in power, has seen his foreign-policy record overshadowed by his role as Bush's leading ally in the unpopular war.

The war has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. troops so far. Republicans say we should stay on course; that a pull-out of American troops would just make things worse. "If you're not for victory in Iraq, you're for failure," Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, told The Associated Press. "The consequences of failure are immense. I think it destabilizes the entire Middle East, encourages Iran and on top of that, it's pretty clear that the terrorists will just follow us home."

Meanwhile, some Democratic critics of war argue that Bush's policies have led to a situation in which U.S. troops are thrust into the middle of a civil war.

And, it appears, this battle is more and more becoming "our" battle. Other nations, perhaps because they are growing as war-weary as us, are leaving that war-torn nation, including Denmark, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, Spain, the Ukraine, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

It's time for us to seriously consider taking the same action. As we've stated before on this page, the best way to guarantee the safety of American troops is to bring them home. Calls to ramp up our troop numbers echo the same rationale used to keep us in Vietnam. To those who contend that we would weaken our credibility if we withdraw, we believe that the nation's standing would greatly improve if we demonstrate the judgment to terminate an unwise course.

Our continuing presence in Iraq feeds the insurgency and gives the insurgents a certain legitimacy in the eyes of much of the world. We know from our own history that armies of occupation are seldom welcome.

We're not going to try to fool you into thinking we believe there are easy answers in Iraq. It's very difficult to find solutions to an operation that was botched from the very beginning. But it's time to re-focus our efforts on something other than building U.S.

troop strength. Such action will only give the insurgents more targets to hit.

Instead, the United States' goals should include accelerating and paying more for the training of Iraqi security forces with the help of Egypt, Jordan, and other Arab allies. We can begin drawing down American forces to coincide with the number of trained Iraqi forces. By that measure, we should bring 30,000 of our troops home now.

There are no guarantees that militarily withdrawing from Iraq would contribute to stability or would not result in chaos. On the other hand, we do know that under our occupation the violence will continue.

It's time to set a goal of bringing our women and men serving in Iraq in the armed forces home.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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