In a couple hours, President Bush will likely announce to the nation that he will be sending an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq. I’m planning on watching the speech, but I’m probably in a tiny minority. While most Americans may oppose the President’s conduct of the war, I don’t think most Americans feel strongly connected to the war effort or the soldiers stationed over there. This administration has not sought much sacrifice from the American public and, for most of us, the war dwells on the periphery of our day. That’s why–even though the number of troops proposed is not nearly enough to bring any real stability, even though these troops may be committed to the region indefinitely, even though a genuine political solution to the sectarian violence seems more distant than ever–I’m skeptical that many people will be discussing this escalation around the water coolers tomorrow.
I’m hoping Congress will ask lots of questions about this proposal and force the president to clearly define the mission and milestones for success (or failure). And if the administration isn’t forthcoming, Congress should exercise the mandate it was given in November and put a freeze on additional troop increases and propose a roadmap for disengagement. But I’m also hoping that the voters who put the new Congress in power don’t fall back into their slumber.