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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Libertarians Scholars Critical of Iraq Troop Surge

Prominent libertarian thinkers have joined a chorus of Democrats urging President Bush to reject the "troop surge" option when he presents his new strategy tonight for U.S. involvement in Iraq.

"President Bush is sure to face stiff opposition if he chooses to escalate the conflict in Iraq by adding 20,000 or more U.S. troops," says Christopher Preble, director of foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington. "The bipartisan Iraq Study Group wisely rejected similar proposals to escalate the U.S. military campaign; the public is equally skeptical that additional troops will succeed in reversing the ominous cycle of sectarian violence -- with good reason. The latest proposals are merely more of the same, offered by the very same people who got us into this mess in the first place.

"Aside from a few die-hard war supporters, most Americans recognize that the costs of our continued military presence in Iraq are far greater than any benefits that we might eventually enjoy as a nation," Preble adds. "In the meantime, the war effort is sapping our national will, eroding our military might, and undermining our efforts to prosecute the global counter-terrorism campaign against al Qaeda."

The war in Iraq is nearly four years old and has cost more than 3,000 American lives. President Bush launched the invasion because he said Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction for use against the United States. No WMDs have been found. American disapproval of Bush's handling of the war has risen sharply.

President Bush's speech tonight will fail to secure either more support for the president's Iraq policy or a more peaceful Iraq, according to Cato adjunct scholar Patrick Basham.

"The president's new plan for Iraq is little more than a military Band-Aid with almost no chance of long-term success," he says. "Committing additional troops may serve the short-term objective of marginally reducing the volume of sectarian killings and insurgent attacks upon Iraqi government personnel and American soldiers in and around the Iraqi capital.

"The surge in troops will do nothing to alter the underlying dynamics that continue to drive the violence in Iraq: deep-seated religious, ethnic, and tribal divisions and hatreds; and a high and rising level of antipathy among Iraqis across the sectarian divide towards the continuing occupation of their country by Western armies," he adds.

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