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By RICHARD SISSON rgs008@latech

By RICHARD SISSON

rgs008@latech.edu

 

In a speech given Jan. 10,  President Bush outlined his plan to send 21,500 troops back to Iraq to quell a relentless insurgency.

The President’s surge is calling for 17,500 U.S. soldiers to be deployed to Baghdad, where the President claimed that 80 percent of the violence was occurring within a 30-mile radius of the Iraqi capital.

The remaining 4,000 would be deployed to Anbar province in western Iraq to provide more security for the area.

“The new strategy I outline tonight will change America’s course in Iraq and help us succeed in the fight against terror,” the President said in his nationally televised speech.

The President’s plan has met with a lot of criticism, even from members of his own party. Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska led the barrage.

“I think this speech, given last night by this President, represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam,” Hagel said.

George Voinovich, a Republican from Ohio, also aired his doubts about the President’s plan.

“I’ve gone along with the President on this and I’ve bought into his dream. At this stage of the game, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Voinovich said.

Critics of Bush’s new plan aren’t only based in Washington, D.C. Richard Hutchinson, an assistant professor of sociology at Tech, joined in critism of the  President’s plan.

“It’s an incremental increase in troops, which is all they can do because the army is stretched thin as it is,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson detailed how  Bush should have listened to the generals at the beginning of the war who wanted a much larger force when invading Iraq in order to successfully occupy the country.

Instead, the administration decided to “go in light” as then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wanted.

“They wanted to prove that it could be done without that many troops and that obviously was a huge mistake. So, the insurgency started to grow immediately and it’s grown ever since,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said, of the roughly 130,000 troops already stationed in Iraq, the 21,500 to be added in the “surge” represents a 16 percent increase in troop levels.

“The President doesn’t want to admit that his whole war has been a big mistake, but that’s basically what it is at this point,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said the surge was an effort by the President to save face in the midst of what will become his presidential legacy.

“Better to take one more chance at trying to turn things around before he finally concedes defeat and goes down in history as a guy who launched a completely failed war,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson strongly disagreed that the invasion of Iraq could be tied to legitimately fighting terrorism.

“The only thing that Iraq has had to do with 9/11 is it has provided a great theater for jihadists to come and practice learning how to fight,” Hutchinson said.

“It has become a theater of operations for al-Qaeda after the [United States] overthrew Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein didn’t allow al-Qaeda to operate in his country. He was a ruthless dictator who prevented them from being there.”

Jonathan Carroll, a sophomore forestry major, was stationed in Baghdad from October 2004 to September 2005. Carroll served in the Louisiana National Guard’s second division of the 156th Mechanized Infantry Brigade.

Carroll was unimpressed with the President’s plan.

“I don’t think that this plan will help promote democracy,” Carroll said.

Carroll acknowledged the logic behind the President’s plan, but believed the reason for the intensity of the violence around Baghdad was because there were so many troops already stationed there.

“That’s where one of our main posts is. That’s where all the soldiers are, because when we came in, that’s where we set up shop,” Caroll said.

“[The President’s plan] may help secure [Baghdad]. Maybe the violence will go down, but it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm.”


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