01/07/2007 08:45 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011


President Bush wants to boost permanent active-duty
U.S. military troops by as many as 70,000 and promptly
order a surge of added troops to Iraq to quell
disorder and sectarian insurgency.

Hopefully, now that Democrats have taken over both
houses of Congress, this will prompt our country's
leaders to come together immediately for a
badly-needed, fully civilized discussion and concrete
decisions so we can win whatever gains have already
been made in Iraq, and get out as soon as possible.

Stop the finger-pointing and get on with statecraft.
Support the troops and what they have won so far. Do
it in 100 hours, if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can organize and
control their political troops. Or do it in 100 days.

But do it. And stop the finger-pointing, because we
are in this together as a nation, and our people want
a solution.

The president has bipartisan support from a pro-war
coalition led by Sens. John McCain, Arizona
Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, Connecticut
Independent, who held a recent joint news conference
on Capitol Hill to call for a surge of additional
military troops to Iraq.

Senator Lieberman said: "Let there be no doubt: If
Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a
tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran.
Iraq is the central front in the global and regional
war against Islamic extremism.

"To turn around the crisis, we need to send more
American troops while we also train more Iraqi troops
and strengthen the moderate political forces in the
national government.

"After speaking with our military commanders and
soldiers there, I strongly believe that additional
U.S. troops must be deployed to Baghdad and Anbar
province -- an increase that will at last allow us to
establish security throughout the Iraqi capital, hold
critical central neighborhoods in the city, clamp down
on the insurgency, and defeat al-Qaeda in that

Senator Lieberman said it was American colonels in
Baghdad and Ramadi, even more than the generals, who
made the case for more U.S. troops. "In both places,
these soldiers showed a strong commitment to the cause
of stopping the extremists," the former Democratic
vice-presidential candidate said.

"The most pressing problem we face in Iraq is not an
absence of Iraqi political will or American diplomatic
initiative, both of which are increasing and
improving." Lieberman said. "It is a lack of basic

"As long as insurgents and death squads terrorize
Baghdad, Iraq's nascent democratic institutions cannot
be expected to function, much less win the trust of
the people. The fear created by gang murders and mass
abductions ensures that power will continue to flow to
the very thugs and extremists who have the least
interest in peace and reconciliation.

"This bloodshed, moreover, is not the inevitable
product of ancient hatreds. It is the predictable
consequence of a failure to ensure basic security and,
equally important, of a conscious strategy by al-Qaeda
and Iran, which have systematically aimed to undermine
Iraq's fragile political center.

"By ruthlessly attacking the Shiites, in particular
over the past three years, al-Qaeda has sought to
provoke precisely the dynamic of reciprocal violence
that threatens to consume the country."

According to the Pentagon, initial war plans for Iraq
included an American invasion force of about 130,000
soldiers and Marines, which would drop quickly to as
few as 30,000 to 50,000 by the end of 2003. Obviously,
the intended force reduction did not happen.

Instead, as sectarian insurgents and death-squads
terrorized Baghdad and other major population centers
over the past almost four years, U.S. troop levels
remained well above 130,000 to this day.

In December 2005, during Iraq's parliamentary
elections, we had 160,000 troops on the ground. By
March 2006, the number was 133,000 and the Pentagon
cut Army combat brigades from 17 to 15. (A brigade is
usually made up of 4,000 to 5,000 troops.)

Moreover, since October 2005, 80,000 of our country's
National Guard and Reserve forces were deployed in 40
nations -- the largest number in Iraq where Guard
units accounted for eight of 15 Army combat brigades.

The result: Our military is spread too thin around the
world and our National Guard and Reserve forces are
badly depleted for needs throughout our own country,
shown after Katrina, and possible threats to our own

Whether we admit it or not -- and the political
finger-pointing doesn't help: Despite the magnificent
ability and commitment of our volunteer military
forces and the support given to them by Congress and
state legislatures, we are stretched too thin and in
deep do-do.

Our country's enemies - notably, Iran, Syria, North
Korea, and Russia - have exacerbated our strategic and
tactical disadvantage with actions to bolster the
terrorists with arms and financial support, while
throwing down a continuing array of other threats of
nuclear proliferation and other actions to destabilize
us and our allies.

They know we have our hands too full and their
destabilizing actions are sadly working.

Something has to break very soon in Iraq. The question
is whether a big surge of troops is the right answer,
and what would it gain with a minimum of further
bloodshed and loss of American treasure?

We can be sure that Democratic anti-war leaders who
now run Congress are going to push though a spate of
resolutions against a military surge, and they will
make a good case:

• Why should the United States and our young military
men and women continue to be caught in the middle of a
growing Iraqi civil war between Sunni insurgents and
Shiites, with American troops losing their lives
unnecessarily every day as the disorder spreads?

• Why has the administration not more solidly sided
with the Shiites against Sunni insurgents and pushed
the Sunni death-squads out of Baghdad?

• More especially, why have we not taken out the
radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a vehement
opponent of the U.S. military presence and fomenter of
so much of the hatred and violence responsible for
American and Iraqi bloodshed?

So now is the time for honest reassessment of our
direction in Iraq.

It is not a question of "moving forward." It is a
question of winning.

We need some immediate hard decisions about our entire
global diplomatic and military strategy to further
liberty and economic productivity.

We must stop pouring American military lives, our
national treasure, and billions of taxpayer dollars
down the drain.

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Allen Riddle,
an expert on military strategy, said it plainly in a
recent piece written for

"Ironically, when ground forces are engaged in large
numbers, options are limited elsewhere, no matter how
big your Navy and your Air Force are. These sister
services are needed to support the land force; and
further, boots on the ground are what matters at the
end of the day. They determine who rules.

"If you embark to fundamentally remake another nation
or society, you must rule and rule for a long time in
order to accomplish your goals. You cannot, indeed
must not cede sovereignty in short order after you've
won it. If your goals are so all encompassing and
comprehensive as to aim at erecting democratic
institutions where there are none, to rebuild a
military whom you have vanquished (twice), to make
warring ethnic and sectarian factions live peaceably
together, and to transform the Middle East by example
-- you cannot hope to do so on the cheap, in terms of
the numbers of troops or the extreme level of force
those troops will have to exert.

"Of course, your objectives may well come into
question, as indeed they should, if you are given to
self-analysis or to constructive reassessment."

So let a hard reassessment begin, without all the
political finger-pointing.

This is not only our own country's problem. It is a
problem that affects the future of liberty and
economic productivity of populations throughout the

So let us get behind pro-liberty leaders of good will
everywhere, regardless of party, nationality,
religion, or military rank, who want to get beyond
mere rhetoric, so we can win this struggle certainly,
with a minimum of further loss of national treasure.

We must get out of the mess we currently are in and
organize ourselves better to win the battle against
global criminals intent on taking away liberty and
economic freedom for all.