What's the buzz on ... the troop surge in Iraq?
Each week, CNN.com takes a look at trends in the blogosphere by tracking one topic across gender and generation with the help of analysis tools from Umbria Inc. This week, we focus on the troop surge in Iraq, first announced by President Bush in January. Bush said the U.S. presence in Iraq would be bolstered with 30,000 additional troops, and the Pentagon announced May 8 that 35,000 additional troops would be deployed to provide support throughout the year. Here's a look at what bloggers are saying.
Overall opinion (May 9-15, 2007)
So what does this mean?
The majority of blog conversations about the troop surge were negative, with relatively few positive and neutral viewpoints expressed. Liberal bloggers showed a much greater degree of negative comments than conservative bloggers. Troop surge opponents suggested President Bush is ignoring a desire by many people to lessen involvement in the war and that the president is doing more harm than good to the country and the party. Disbelief also was expressed that Congress is continuing to back the war, which opponents feel is a lost cause.
Those supporting the surge argued the president deserves a chance to give his new plan a try and accused liberals and Democrats of opposing the surge for political reasons. Dislike of Bush should not cloud judgment of the war since the president and the Democratic-controlled Congress have similar approval ratings, these bloggers argued. An increase in troops in Iraq is needed to finish the war, surge supporters said, although the question remains of how long the troop surge should last.
In their own words
David Kaiser on History Unfolding
The new strategy behind the surge consists of putting more American soldiers among the Iraqi population. As such it parallels what the Marines tried to do with Combined Action Platoons in the villages of Vietnam (as described in Bing West's excellent book, "The Village,") and what the American Army also tried to do in some areas beginning in 1969. West showed how the Marines lived with the villagers, earned their trust, and kept the VC away from them by spending every night in ambush positions on the paths leading into it. Clearly, however, several problems make the success of such a strategy most unlikely in the neighborhoods of Baghdad. … The Americans, recent press reports indicate, are doing the only thing they can: They are building fortified outposts in the neighborhoods to which they are assigned with the help of huge blocks of concrete. That, obviously, will separate them from the population and make it very difficult to build up any genuine trust.
Eric A. Hopp on Oh Well
First, it is obvious that the Bush troop surge plan is not working. And this is not good for the Bush administration. President Bush needs to keep the Iraq war going until 2009, when he can hand off this entire Iraq mess to his successor and wash his hands of this entire bloody war. If President Bush can hand the war off to his successor, then Bush can claim he did everything necessary to win the war, and he was not responsible for losing the war -- his successor, if a Democratic president, was responsible for losing the war in Iraq. This is all about salvaging President Bush's legacy here. If Bush can keep the war going without benchmarks or timetables into 2008, then he can be reassured that both Iraq will be the overriding issue in the 2008 elections and that Congress will not pass any legislation for resolving the Iraq war, or withdrawing the troops, until after the November 2008 election--until after George W. Bush leave office in January, 2009. … The second thing you need to remember is that the political climate in Washington, and the country, has changed. The Democrats are in control of Congress. Congress had already passed a war funding bill, which contained both benchmarks for measuring the success of the Bush troop surge, and withdrawal timetables of U.S. forces if those benchmarks were not achieved. President Bush vetoed the war funding bill, claiming that "Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure, and that would be irresponsible. ..." The president wants a blank war funding check, the Democrats in Congress are willing to fund his war, but with conditions and benchmarks.
vnjagvet in a comment thread on Big Lizards
There is much impatience in the commentariat, including the blogosphere. And it is not all from the left of the spectrum. Impatience seldom wins wars. Especially wars of the unconventional variety. The election cycle drives impatience in this country. Republicans took a beating in 2006. They don't want a repeat in 2008. The faint of heart, and the impatient are worried about the dropping popular sentiment, without which the war flounders. But results are what will turn it around. Bush took a risk to make the changes you describe, as he did in beginning the Iraq front on the GWOT. I think the guy has the guts of the burgler, while most of my fellow citizens to my left politically think he is an unprincipled dumbo. History will let us both know who is right.