By: E&P Staff
On its front page Saturday, The New York Times confirms recent reports that President Bush is seriously exploring sending 20,000 or more troops to Iraq in an attempt to “secure” Baghdad. This would account for the delay in announcing his overall plan until January, and flies in the face of the recent Iraq Study Group report and public opinion polls. Sen. John McCain has called for 30,000 more troops.
Maureen Dowd, meanwhile, writes in her Saturday column:
“The Democrats thought that when they won the election, they won the debate on the war and they had W. cornered. But the president is leaning toward surging over the Democrats, voters, Baker and the Bush 41 crowd, and some of his own commanders.
“The White House budget office is studying how much it will cost to finance The Surge, an infusion of 20,000 to 50,000 troops into Baghdad to make one last try at ‘victory.’ The policy would devolve from ‘We stand down as they stand up’ to ‘We stand up more and maybe someday they will, too.’
“Some serving commanders are not in favor of The Surge because they fret that it will infantilize Iraqis even more about assuming responsibility for their own security. They also fear that the insurgents, who have nowhere to go, will outwait our troops.”
If Bush does go in that direction, how is the paper’s editorial page likely to react? A hint could be found in the transcript of an interview on Friday that C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb conducted with Andrew Rosenthal, who takes over as the Times’ editorial page editor next month.
It will airing on Lamb’s “Q & A” program on Sunday at 8 and 11 p.m. ET.
The transcript, according to C-SPAN, includes the following. .
Lamb: Do you think you’ll eventually call for us to get out of Iraq?
Andrew Rosenthal: Wow, should I answer that question?
Rosenthal: I think it’s becoming more likely. I mean I don’t know what George Bush is going to say [in Januaary] . We’ve been going through this very odd spectacle this week of all these meetings and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. We actually wrote about it this week.
I mean, are we really supposed to believe he just started thinking about it this week? What are these meetings about? Are we supposed to believe the Army just started thinking about it this week? I mean it’s crazy. It has to be true that he’s just going through this for some crazy public relations stunt.
It depends on what he says. If he comes up with a plan that could lead in some reasonable period of time to an orderly withdraw than that’s one thing. If he sticks to these fictions about achieving victory and all the other things that he keep talking about then we may have to change.
It really does depend, I mean — we’re going to withdraw our troops from Iraq and we’re going to do that without initiating a fully functioning government that serves as a beacon of hope for the Middle East. I mean it’s interesting and very instructive to go back and look at last year’s strategy for success in Iraq strategy: defeating terrorists, establishing full democracy in Iraq, an independent army, and an Iraq that is part of the international economic system, I don’t know what that means. Are they supposed to join the IMF or the WTO? I don’ t know what the heck that means.
And this kind of burgeoning democracy throughout the Middle East , well none of that’s going to happen, I think that’s pretty clear — at least not in George Bush’s timeframe.