A failed change for a failed war

Chris Kok

President Bush is changing his Iraq War strategy. His plan includes sending an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq and loosening the rules of engagement. Most of these soldiers will be sent to Baghdad with the rest going to Al Anbar province. This strategy is doomed to be another failure in the already disastrous Iraq War.

Sending thousands of troops into Iraq will only spark more violence in urban areas. Urban warfare is Iraq’s version of the jungle warfare during Vietnam. Insurgents know the neighborhoods better than the American military. They will hide in buildings and alleys, showing their faces just long enough to attack, and after that, they will disappear. Urban warfare will continue to be deadly for American soldiers.

Not only will the escalation harm American soldiers, but it will also greatly increase the numbers of dead Iraqis. In November 2004, the Lancet released a study revealing that more than 100,000 Iraqis had died because of the war.

In a more recent study, that number has been estimated to be at 655,000, but this study takes into account how those Iraqis died. The largest cause of death from the “Coalition of the Willing” was from air strikes rather than ground troops. Since that study, the military has increased its reliance on air support when going after insurgents. When soldiers are under attack, rather than moving into the buildings where the resistance is located, they call in an air strike. This is effective at killing the insurgents, but it is even more effective at killing innocent people who are in the same building.

Another part of Bush’s strategy is to target Moqtada Sadr and his Mehdi army. Due to the conditions of urban warfare and the Mehdi army,’s strength, this will result in a bloodbath for Americans and even more so for Iraqis. Loosening the rules of engagement will only increase the amount of blood lost on both sides.

Sending troops into the Al Anbar province relies on the misguided notion that a large part of the resistance is made of foreign fighters. Although some of the resistance is foreign, the large majority is homegrown. Closing the border to Syria will not have any significant effect on the Iraq War.

The real solution is immediate withdrawal.

Fortunately the Democrats have heard the opposition to the war here at home, and they are passing resolutions against the escalation. They have the power to stop this escalation, and bring the troops home now. But wait, the resolutions they are passing are non-binding. They have the power but are unwilling to use it. They are just as guilty as Bush.

Fortunately people aren’t relying on the Democrats. This past weekend there were anti-war protests across the country. When the powers in government are unwilling to listen to the people, the people must take action.

Grassroots activism is the only way this war will be stopped.

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].