Mission Accomplished? Not Then, Not Now.

TIME TO JUST SAY NO TO CONTINUED IRAQ ESCALATION

Posted: May 01, 2007

WELL, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

When President Bush first escalated the war in Iraq a few months ago, we were told that we had to give it a chance. According to the White House, it was our "last, best hope" at righting the ship.

Republican House leader John Boehner said at the time: "I think it will be rather clear in the next 60 to 90 days as to whether this plan is going to work. And, again, that's why we need to have close oversight, so that we just don't look up 60 or 90 days from now and realize that this plan is not working. We need to know, as we move through these benchmarks, that the Iraqis are doing what they have to do."

Time's up.

Gen. David Petraeus, our commander in Iraq, admitted on Friday that violence in Iraq has remained at a steady level since the surge, and predicted U.S. casualties will continue to climb.

Said Petreaus at a Pentagon news conference, "I think there is the very real possibility that there's going to be more combat action and that, therefore, there could be more casualties . . . This effort may get harder before it gets easier."

By anyone's measure, that is not progress.

The escalation has failed.

Today, the president is expected to veto legislation the Democrats in Congress are sending to him, despite his protests. The bill, which gives U.S. troops every penny for protection that the president asked for, and more, makes it clear that we have given the escalation of the war a chance - that last, best hope - and that because progress has not been made, the time has come to make a major shift in the war.

It's ironic that the president will veto the bill on the fourth anniversary of his now-infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech. In 2003, you'll recall, the president declared that major combat operations in Iraq were over.

Fast forward to 2007, and we now know how terribly wrong the president was. And yet we gave him years worth of additional chances.

This past weekend, the White House signaled that we should now give the escalation until September to work. And if it doesn't work by then, like it hasn't worked at the former three-month deadline? Well, expect to hear the usual: Just give it more time.

It is essential that we not engage in a war without end, any more. The president has been given many opportunities to be a responsible commander in chief, and he has failed.

The deadline for progress that his own congressional leaders set for his latest scheme to work has also failed. The president may not like it, but trust and faith in his ability to stabilize Iraq using brute force has now completely disintegrated, and the Congress is doing the responsible thing by forcing a responsible redeployment from this war.

You've run out of chances, Mr. President.

In the Army, there is a saying: Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Your leadership has failed. You refuse to follow what the American people asked for in the 2006 elections. Now, Mr. Bush, get out of the way, and let the Congress bring a responsible winding-down of this war. *

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