It has become a sad cliche that Americans deserve better from their leadership than they are getting.
The President and some Members of Congress are calling for an increase in troop levels in Iraq to attempt to keep implementing the same domestic security and training plan for Iraqi police and militia units that America has had in place all along.
The plan has not changed -- just the call, finally, for more forces. But it's too late for 20,000 -- 30,000 -- or even 40,000 -- troops to matter.
I'm not sure that several hundred thousand troops would make a difference, but all bias aside, Iraq and the sectarian civil war that is erupting calls for a much bolder, bigger action than a simple "surge" in U.S. troops.
Solving Iraq, if it can be solved, now means getting real about and engaging in a broad range of Middle East dealmaking between internal groups inside Iraq as well as among its neighbors.
It means working to establish the State of Palestine in a manner that maintains the viability and security of both Israel and Palestine. It means offering Syria a Libya-like arrangement out of the international doghouse. It means massaging Iran's ego in the region without handing the entire Middle East over on a golden platter -- which America seems to be doing with its counterproductive strategy. It means figuring out what China and Russia want most in their foreign policy objectives and doing what we can to trade their needs for our own.
This all means that we must have an end to diplomacy on the cheap -- and national security on the cheap. And a surge in troop levels without a plan, without the other component parts of a credible and believable grand strategy -- is sending more soldiers off to die unnecessarily -- or to kill Iraqis, many who are absolutely innocent in all this mess and who will no doubt hate the United States for a long time ahead.
I cannot attend tomorrow as I am traveling, but there is a picket action that is taking place on Friday at noon in Washington at 1150 Seventeenth Street (near 17th and M Streets) to protest the campaign that Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman are launching tomorrow to support President Bush's call for more troops in Iraq.
This peaceful picket action is called "No Iraq Escalation" and folks will have colorful signs and other material to carry around if you wish.
I know both Senator McCain and Lieberman -- and I know that both think that this "surge" is something that they have to support. My response to them -- if I was discussing the matter privately -- is that they are not asking the tough questions of the President and of our nation's top strategists. They are not thinking this through well enough or fully enough and are calling for an "escalation" of an already terrible situation.
They need to hear some alternative voices out there. That's what our democracy is about.
Feel free to send this post to others in the DC area, or to other blogs, or email lists.
I hope that those of you who can will share your views tomorrow at 1150 17th Street and give our elected representatives a sense that Americans are sick of being asked to send young men and women into a war that has gone way off the rails.
Bush is cherry-picking the Iraq Study Group report -- cherry-picking what he wants to continue a failed four year plan. But without the big deal and the other important parts of the ISG Report, Bush -- and enabling Senators -- are making America's situation even worse.
-- Steve Clemons is Senior Fellow and Director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note