Don't play 'ping-pong' with American, Iraqi lives


"Getting out" and "staying the course" have both been overwhelming rejected by the U.S. public, a bi-partisan mix of Capitol Hill politicians, assorted military experts and the Iraq Study Commission as responsible resolutions to the U.S. War in Iraq. Now, President George W. Bush is advancing a new policy of "surging" the number of U.S. troops into the battle zone. This new policy will require the insertion of at least seven additional brigades into Iraq and put an estimated 40,000 more American soldiers into the battlefields of Baghdad. Presumably, this new path by the Bush Administration is being launched as a last ditch effort to stabilized the increasingly violent Iraqi situation.

Strategic errors and military misjudgments have characterized the Bush War Policy since the fateful capture of Baghdad in 2003. Facing plummeting support on the home front and mounting casualties on the battle front, President Bush and his advisors are now advocating an increase in the number of U.S. troops deployed in Iraq. Their hope seems to be that the increased military presence might somehow bring stability to an area of the world marked by daily mayhem and bloodshed. The U.S. Congress, both Democratic and Republican members, have voiced little support for the administration's latest policy twist with Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska suggesting that the Bush Administration was "playing ping-pong" with U.S. soldiers' lives.

Bishop William Skylstad, speaking for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, suggested: "Each course of action, including current policies, ought to be evaluated in light of our nation's moral responsibility to help Iraqis to live with security and dignity in the aftermath of U.S. military action. Our nation's military forces should remain in Iraq only as long as their presence actually contributes to a responsible transition. Our nation should seek effective ways to end their deployment at the earliest opportunity consistent with this goal."

President Bush's latest policy twist in the Iraq War faces tremendous opposition from both the U.S. Congress and the U.S. public. While a so-called "cut and run" policy is clearly irresponsible, this recent policy of surging troop levels for a short time to gain stability seems to be equally irresponsible. The Bush Administration has made little effort to seek out diplomatic avenues with other nations in the Persian Gulf and has not gained the support of the Western nations, either. What is needed in Iraqi is not a policy that plays "ping-pong" with the lives of either U.S. soldiers or the Iraqi people but a policy that begins to lay down a diplomatic framework for a peaceful settlement.

The Iraq War cannot be settled by U.S. troops alone; a policy of diplomacy and negotiation with many nations are necessary. We urge the Bush Administration to reevaluate its dangerous policy of escalation of war by surging troop levels and instead seek out a bi-partisan plan that would be more responsible. For, as the burden of warfare can never be carried alone, neither can this burden of war created by the Bush Administration be carried by the U.S. alone.

(This editorial originally appeared in The Providence Visitor)