By E&P Staff
Editorial Response to Iraq Plan:
Thu Jan 11, 2007 00:22

Editorial Response to Iraq Plan: 'NYT' Not Convinced, More to Follow

By E&P Staff

Published: January 10, 2007 10:55 PM ET

NEW YORK In the days leading up to President Bush's speech tonight, many newspapers took no position on his proposed "surge" in troops, while others weighed in, pro or con, well after his decision was made. How will they now respond to what they heard tonight? E&P will chart some of the reactions below.

The New York Times was first to answer the call after the speech -- and this response would surely be intriguing. The Times, a prime critic of the conduct of the war, surprised some by stating in an editorial just Tuesday that it could support sending more troops to Iraq, if the president also set certain conditions.

But in its Thursday editorial, the Times declares that it didn't hear what it hoped for.

"Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation," the Times said of the president, "and he did not take it.

"Americans needed to hear a clear plan to extricate United States troops from the disaster that Mr. Bush created. What they got was more gauzy talk of victory in the war on terrorism and of creating a 'young democracy' in Iraq. In other words, a way for this president to run out the clock and leave his mess for the next one....

"Before Mr. Bush spoke, Americans knew he planned to send more troops to pacify lawless Baghdad. Mr. Bush’s task was to justify that escalation by acknowledging that there was no military solution to this war and outlining the political mission that the military would be serving. We were waiting for him to detail the specific milestones that he would set for the Iraqis, set clear timelines for when they would be expected to meet them, and explain what he intended to do if they again failed.

"Instead, he said he had warned the Iraqis that if they didn’t come through, they would lose the faith of the American people. Has Mr. Bush really not noticed that the American people long ago lost faith in the Iraqi government — and in him as well? Americans know that this Iraqi government is captive to Shiite militias, with no interest in the unity, reconciliation and democracy that Mr. Bush says he wants.

"Mr. Bush said yet again that he wanted the Iraqi government to step up to the task of providing its security, and that Iraq needed a law on the fair distribution of oil money. Iraq’s government needs to do a lot more than that, starting with disarming the sectarian militias that are feeding the civil war and purging the police forces that too often are really death squads. It needs to offer amnesty to insurgents and militia fighters willing to put down their weapons. It needs to do those things immediately.

"Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government has heard this list before. But so long as Mr. Bush is willing to back that failed government indefinitely — enabling is the psychological term — Iraq’s leaders will have no reason to move against the militias and more fairly share power with the Sunni minority....

"We have argued that the United States has a moral obligation to stay in Iraq as long as there is a chance to mitigate the damage that a quick withdrawal might cause. We have called for an effort to secure Baghdad, but as part of the sort of comprehensive political solution utterly lacking in Mr. Bush’s speech. This war has reached the point that merely prolonging it could make a bad ending even worse. Without a real plan to bring it to a close, there is no point in talking about jobs programs and military offensives. There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq."

More editorial reactions to come....



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