U.S. police arrest anti-war marchers
Police and protesters clashed in Washington DC during a mass demonstration against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The arrests came after the marchers staged a “die in”, to represent U.S. soldiers killed during the war.
The demonstration follows recent announcements on changes to U.S. troop numbers in Iraq.
In a report to Congress, the top U.S. general in Iraq, David Petraeus, and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, recommended that some U.S. soldiers start withdrawng from the country.
According to the plan, 5,700 U.S. troops will be home by the end of the year and at least 21,500 will return by next July.
On Thursday President George W. Bush accepted the recommendations, which showed, he said, that the troop surge is working. However in his televised address to the nation, Mr Bush firmly rejected calls to end the war, insisting that Iraq will still need military support.
Senator Tom Lantos, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs
The administration learned nothing from our country’s actions in Afghanistan two decades ago when by supporting Islamic militants against the Soviet Union we helped pave the way for the rise of the Taliban. Why are we now repeating the short-sighted patterns of the past?
“The principle guiding my decision on troop levels in Iraq is return of success. The more successful we are the more American troops can return home,” said President Bush.
The statement sparked harsh criticism, with sceptics saying the new post-surge strategy is the same as the pre-surge snow job.
“Once again the president failed to present either a plan to successfully end the war or a convincing rationale to continue it,” said Senator Jack Reed.
The verbal skirmishes continue about the success or failure of the surge. But arguing over statistics doesn't change the reality on the ground. So far the U.S. military surge has failed to forge political reconciliation in Baghdad.
Critics say President Bush is playing for time.
“After General Petraeus reported the troop surge hadn't produced progress or a political solution, what does the President want? More time for the surge to work?” asked Senator John Edwards.
Indeed, the post-surge strategy looks like a tactical shift from going big to going long. This revelation by the U.S. Commander-in-Chief was long expected and widely predicted.
General Petraeus’s tactic in Iraq’s Anbar is not new but it could backfire. Proxy fighting, splitting the tribes along their ethno-sectarian divisions and exploring their mutual hostility against a third force was not invented in Iraq. It was used by the U.S. Army against Indian tribes and by the Soviet Army against Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
General David Petraeus appears before U.S. House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs joint committee
In this respect, Senator Tom Lantos from the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs has compares the war in Iraq to other conflicts involving the U.S.
“The administration learned nothing from our country’s actions in Afghanistan two decades ago when by supporting Islamic militants against the Soviet Union we helped pave the way for the rise of the Taliban. Why are we now repeating the short-sighted patterns of the past?” he asks.
The logical next step for the U.S. Commander in Iraq would be to direct the Sunni and Shi’ite tribal allegiance against the insurgency in Iraq.
However, Al-Qaeda strategy in Pakistan is to provoke the U.S. into attacking Iran in its own proxy war. But the challenge for General Petraeus will be to avoid that trap and not to switch the surge from Iraq to Iran.