Their View: Bush needs to end a vacation and do something
While President Bush dithers about a new approach to Iraq, the situation in Iraq is changing - often quickly, and not for the better.
One new development could be viewed as mostly symbolic - the U.S. military death toll now exceeds the number of Sept. 11, 2001, victims - except that the White House used the occasion to warn that the “war on terror” is going to be a long fight.
That sort of diversionary blather obscures that Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11 and little with terrorism - at least until the U.S. invasion created terrorist havens in the country.
It's hard to believe an administration still so intent on deceiving itself and the American people is going to hammer out a new policy that deals with cold realities.
And those realities are grim.
For example, in the southern Iraqi city of Basra - a Shiite city that has had almost no sectarian violence - British and Iraqi troops launched a heavy Christmas Day assault on an Iraqi police station, where 127 rescued prisoners had faced torture and execution.
The Iraqi police ironically seem to be at their best when they are standing around fecklessly or running away. They cause real trouble when, as in Basra, they are taken over by militant militias, criminals and death squads.
Meanwhile, in Baghdad, where a quarter of Iraq's population lives, the Shiite majority is continuing to redraw the demographic map, by driving Sunni Arabs from their traditional residential areas.
All of this and more - such as the American voters' insistence last month on a changed approach - suggests the President better make his thinking known quickly. It also makes it less likely that one notion that he may favor - escalation of the war with a “surge” of additional U.S. troops - would be an effective answer to such circumstances.
No one should want the President, who has made so many grievous errors in Iraq, to act precipitously. But many new ideas have been offered to him, and the war is nearing the end of its fourth year. It's time for Mr. Bush to end yet another of his vacations and do something.
- The Courier-Journal, Louisville