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Iraq: Year Five.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Iraq war, Year Five: Time to take stock. "Four years after this war began, the fight is difficult, but it can be won," President Bush says. "It will be won, if we have the courage and resolve to see it through."

The key to victory, then, is more courage and resolve than 3,200 slain and 23,000 wounded U.S. troops have brought to the effort so far. That can only mean more of everything - more Americans and Iraqis killed and maimed, more jihadists armed and trained, and more families torn apart by grief and loss.

"Victory" has become a word that requires quotation marks in the context of the Iraq war, since even the president's handpicked new commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, concedes that no military victory is possible. "Victory" now appears to require even more than the 21,500 additional troops Bush requested for his surge to reclaim Iraq's capital from sectarian death squads and insurgent suicide bombers. Bush has increased his troop request to nearly 28,000 and reminded Americans that all bets are off on the final cost and ultimate duration of the escalation.

Those who remember President Lyndon Johnson's response after being told by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that a military victory in Vietnam probably was impossible can be forgiven for an involuntary shudder. Johnson, desperate to avoid becoming the first American president to "lose" a war, immediately ordered thousands more U.S. troops to Vietnam. At the time of Johnson's surge, American casualties were less than half of what they would total by the end of the war.

As the nation enters the fifth year of an increasingly unpopular war, one feeling shared by supporters and opponents of current U.S. policy is a sense of desperation. Republicans and Democrats desperately hope to wring some lasting political advantage from the debate over the Iraq war, but Americans are losing patience with the gamesmanship.

Families desperately hope their sons, daughters, husbands and wives in the military will return home safe and whole. American forces in the battle zone desperately hope their leaders in Washington, D.C., will come to their senses and give them a mission that can be accomplished, along with the resources needed to complete the task. More and more of those troops believe, along with General Petraeus, that their combat mission shouldn't involve taking sides in a civil war.

Opponents of the war desperately hope their elected representatives find the courage to set a deadline for U.S. military disengagement from Iraq and make the transition to economic and political strategies.

Frustration with congressional inaction and White House intransigence regarding Iraq policy increasingly manifests itself in resolutions from city, county and state governing bodies. On Tuesday, the Oregon House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on Congress to limit federal spending on a military escalation in Iraq and to support a withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2008. Last week, the Eugene City Council joined Portland and 200 other U.S. cities in passing a resolution urging an end to the Iraq war.

What's clear from the mounting pressure for an Iraq deadline that's occurring in city council chambers and legislative assemblies is that the 2006 midterm elections were no fluke. The Iraq war enters its fifth year as the most important issue in the minds of most Americans, and that priority is not lost on their local elected officials.

If Congress fails to heed the message and continues to avoid taking decisive action to bring American troops home, many of its current members probably will be going home for good after the next election.
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Title Annotation:Editorials; Pressure mounts to bring the U.S. troops home
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 23, 2007
Previous Article:Stop the stonewalling.

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