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Stop the Surge: Escalating the War in Iraq is Wrong

Why the president's decision to escalate troops in Iraq will not make America safer. Congress must stop the escalation and develop a real strategy.

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In late December the Center for American Progress detailed why the United States faces a critical choice in Iraq: either embrace a new strategy for regaining stability and making progress in the Middle East, or instead escalate our military operations in Iraq. President Bush last night explained why he thinks escalation is the way to go. To us, that choice is wrong. That’s why it’s incumbent on the new 110th Congress to play a key role in helping shape the country’s deliberations over this critical choice. To us, the choices are clear:

Promote a Diplomatic Surge and Oppose Military Escalation. For the past month, the Iraq debate has been dominated by discussion of a possible military escalation, or the so-called “surge” option. Choosing this path would be simply doubling down on a failed strategy. Since last June, the United States tried a similar military escalation twice in Baghdad, and there is no compelling evidence indicating that a third time would be a charm. Rather that sinking deeper into Iraq’s civil war, the United States should undertake a fundamental strategic shift centered on a political and diplomatic surge aimed at resolving Iraq’s civil war and stabilizing other parts of the Middle East.

Ignore the Advice from Those Responsible for the Iraq Quagmire. Supporters of U.S. military escalation in Iraq in 2007 are among the same pundits and so called experts who assured the president that the U.S. invasion was necessary; that the war would be a cakewalk; that we would be greeted as liberators; that we could rebuild Iraq at a cost of $1.5 billion a year; and that we could reduce our troop strength to 30,000 by the end of 2003. These pundits fail to recognize some key realities: that the fundamental security challenge in Iraq is a violent struggle for power; that the United States cannot solve Iraq’s problems militarily; and that the U.S. presence is fostering a culture of dependency and increasing the violence.

Exercise the Proper Constitutional Role of Congress in Guiding Iraq Policy. When Congress reconvenes, the Bush administration will submit a supplemental funding request to the defense budget of at least $100 billion to fund the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of FY 2007. Although the new Congress should not refuse to provide the funds that the troops already in Iraq and Afghanistan need, it can place an amendment on the supplemental funding bill that states that if the administration wants to increase the number of troops in Iraq above 150,000, it must provide a plan for their purpose and require an up or down vote on exceeding that number. In addition, it can place limits on the mobilization of Guard and Reserve forces, and vote on key aspects of U.S. funding, including U.S. taxpayer money that is going to provide weapons and training to Iraqi security forces. At minimum, Congress should increase its oversight and demand a full-blown, detailed plan from the Bush administration on how it is preparing to stabilize Iraq and address the growing problems in the Middle East.

Contact our Iraq experts, Lawrence Korb and Brian Katulis for additional information and comments.

For TV, Sean Gibbons, Director of Media Strategy
202.682.1611 or sgibbons@americanprogress.org

For radio, Theo LeCompte, Media Strategy Manager
202.741.6268 or tlecompte@americanprogress.org

For print, Trevor Kincaid, Deputy Press Secretary
202.741.6273 or tkincaid@americanprogress.org

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or ashoup@americanprogress.org

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or cpatterson@americanprogress.org

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or mmeth@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or lhamilton@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org