Students Face-Off on Troop Surge


Tim Wilson
Staff Writer


President Bush recently made clear that he is “the decision-maker,” assuring us that it’s his way or the highway.  That more or less negates the usefulness of any opinion arguing against “a troop surge.”  First of all, let’s define troop surge, in this case approximately 20,000 soldiers will be added to the approximately 130,000 already in Iraq.  This number is significantly smaller than other escalations, and, in fact, troop decreases in the past year.  Is it the timing of this escalation that has brought such a fuss?

            It would seem that the excuse for the outrage is obvious.  During the mid-term elections, the American people voted strongly in favor of candidates who supported bringing troops home, and to begin bringing about an end to this war. 

            Let’s completely disregard who might be right or wrong in this situation.  Let it be completely irrelevant whether the bleeding hearts or warmongers have truth and grace on their side.

            The point is this; our fearless leader is blatantly disregarding his responsibility to represent the American people, that large mass of people huddling between Canada and Mexico.  His constituents.  Us.  Good and bad aside, our president simply doesn’t listen to anyone but the little devil on his shoulder, or perhaps it’s the voices in his head.

            As the Democratic majority throws “non- binding” resolutions to protest the troop escalation, the president’s plan marches ahead.  What can be done?

            I’m getting off track here, this piece is supposed to be explaining why an escalation of military power in Iraq is counter-productive. 

            Violence leads to violence right?

            It is painfully obvious that our military presence in Iraq has not led to peace, it has not led to prosperity, and it probably won’t start accomplishing that end with an additional 20,000 soldiers, a small number when one looks at the big picture.

            Unfortunately I am not a Diplomat, I’m not an engineer, I know nothing about how to rebuild a shattered nation, but even a slacker working on his Associates degree can come to the conclusion that adding more wood to the fire is going to make it burn hotter.

            Maybe Congress ought to redirect the massive amounts of taxpayer money being spent on creating weapons, whose chief cause for existing is to kill people (let me state for the record, I am not “anti- gun”), and use those monies for better ends.  I can’t be certain that there are better ways to go about this, it is just too hard to believe that the only way to pacify Iraq is with the business end of an assault rifle.

            And yet, with Mr. Bush as “the decision- maker,” that is the purported solution.  Keep doing what we are doing.  It actually just needs time to manifest itself as the genius plan that it is.

            I can, at the very least, direct you to a clear and progressive blueprint for ending this embarrassing war.  George McGovern and William R. Polk put their heads together, writing an article that was published last October in Harper’s Magazine titled “The Way Out of War.”  Of Mr. Bush’s insistence to “stay the course,” they wrote “when a driver is on the wrong road and headed for an abyss, it is a bad idea to ‘stay the course.’ A nation afflicted with a failing and costly policy is not well served by those calling for more of the same.”  Well put sirs. 

             They concisely state the often heard argument that American military presence in Iraq actually aggravates and encourages insurgency, instead of helping to defeat it.   If the military presence there was downscaled, the insurgents would lose much of their reason for fighting, killing, destabilizing, etc.

            According to Polk and McGovern, Iraq would be better suited with a “temporary international police force” that would have no need for tanks, artillery, or strike aircraft.

            The article is much too detailed and concise for me to restate in a short opinion piece, but it is recommended by the writer as the most solid strategy for moving forward through this ridiculous mess we have caused.

            And while much of the blame lies with Mr. Bush, blame as well lies on our shoulders, those who voted for this president, those who turned a blind eye while congress eagerly voted for a premature and foolish war.

            There is no easy fix for this war, certainly not one that will come off my tongue, but it is simply the exercise of common sense that points to further escalations of troops as blind and foolhardy.

            We have now lost over three thousand American soldiers, more than sixty this month.  More than ten thousand have been badly wounded.  The numbers of Iraqi dead seem to be at least fifty- thousand, though no one can seem to agree upon that.  The death toll in Iraq at this point makes Saddam Hussein seem a tender and loving leader.

            This war isn’t working.  It is time to snap into reality, and admit to having approached this war with our heads in our nether regions.

            “You live and learn.  At any rate, you live.”  Douglas Adams said that.



Chris Greising
Online Editor


                In no way, shape, or form, have I ever agreed with President Bush, his policies, or his administration.  I even feel that he will probably go down as one of the worst presidents in American history, especially for one that has been elected to a second term. His incompetence has resulted in the destruction of an entire U.S. city, unfair tax cuts for corporate fat cats that have driven an even larger wedge between the very rich and the ever increasing poor, and also leading America and its citizens into an unjust war with no favorable outcome in sight. 

This last blunder, the Iraq War, leads me to the conundrum that I have found myself facing recently, actually agreeing with George W. Bush, albeit for very different reasons then him.

            Recently there has been an increase in American forces in Iraq.  There are polls that show that as much as 70% of the American public disagrees with this troop surge.  I have no problem with these numbers and feel that it is completely reasonable for the American public to disagree with anything that ‘W.’ has to say.  Except, I do remember when, roughly, 70% of the American public supported going to Iraq at the time of the initial invasion and look how good that turned out. 

            That leads me to my first point; every Iraqi citizen that dies in the civil war, that has erupted because of our presence and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, is on our heads.  We, the American public, did not stand up to President Bush and his cronies as they proposed the invasion.  He would say, “9/11” and we would cower before him, doing his bidding and blindly following where he would lead.  Lazily we sat back and voted for American Idol contestants and worried if Frodo was going to destroy the ring, all the while allowing the Bush administration to do whatever was in their best interest.

            Now, you might say, “Well, he is saying send more troops and now we are standing up to him!”

            It’s too late.  Our apathy has lead to the destruction and turmoil that the people in Iraq are now faced with.  If we were to cut bait and withdraw from fighting, what would happen?  Peace?  A new dictatorship?  Genocide?  We don’t know.

            You might also say, “It’s their fight, we have no right being there!”

            We had no right to be there to begin with and it’s our fault that their country is in the shape it is in now.

            “Now we have a congress that is willing to listen to the American people and begin to bring our troops home!” 

            Is that true, or is it that the Senate is just pandering to the public?  Just this past week Congress voted 81-0 in favor of appointing Lt. Gen. David Petreaus to be the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.  Gen. Petreaus feels that in order to achieve a favorable outcome in this war, we must send in more troops. 

Wait, the Senate opposes troop reinforcement but unanimously votes in favor of a General who feels that more troops are necessary?  Interesting.

My second point comes from someone who has experienced the tragedies of war firsthand.  His name is Dan Braund and he is a Sergeant in the United State Army.  Sergeant Braund has been on two tours of duty in Iraq, the first in Mosul and the second in Southern Baghdad.  On his last tour his squadron lost two soldiers while fighting insurgents.  He is expecting to return to action for a third tour sometime this year.

Sergeant Braund is a good soldier, he goes where he needs to go and does what needs to be done, that’s his job and he understands that.  However, Sergeant Braund may be a good soldier, but he is an even better friend.  I have known him almost my entire life.  Lots of friends have come and gone throughout the years but Sergeant Braund, or ‘DB’ as he is known by back home, has always been there.  Nothing would pain me more then to hear of a tragedy befalling my friend while doing his job. 

I talked with him the other night from his base in Kentucky to get his take on the reinforcements being sent into a war zone.  He personally feels that this is what the troops need for those still stationed in Iraq.  From his experiences, increases in troop forces will help bolster patrols and fill in the gaps left from being undermanned. 

Iraqi officials are scared off by constant fighting taking place in Baghdad and the surrounding areas and need more security to begin the political process.  A NY Times article claims that some sessions of their government had as little as 65 out of over 200 members in attendance.  They need our help with security so they can get their government up and running.

Sergeant Braund tells me that the overall moral of soldiers in Iraq is positive, he said, “I like being over there, it feels like I am doing good.”

He also brought up another point that hadn’t occurred to me.  What would happen if we did start gradually pulling out of Iraq?  What about the troops that would still be stationed there? 

As Sergeant Braund said, “If we slowly pull out, the troops that get left there would get massacred.”

By chance, if my friend is one of the troops that get left behind while we start pulling out, I want as many people watching his back as possible.  I want to know that DB is as safe as possible while doing his job; a job that the American public collectively participated in throwing him into.