Yesterday, President Bush announced to the nation that he plans to increase America’s presence in Iraq by approximately 22,000 troops, with no timetable for when troop levels would be drawn back down.
Today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried her best to make this escalation plan more palatable to the American public. “I think that I don’t see it, and the president doesn’t see it, as an escalation,” Rice told an incredulous Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Hagel responded, “Putting 22,000 new troops, more troops in, is not an escalation?” “I would call it, senator, an augmentation,” Rice said.
RICE: So I think you will find support among the people who are supporting Prime Minister Maliki in his desire to end the sectarian violence. And that is more than Prime Minister Maliki…
HAGEL: My question was the escalation of American troops in Iraq.
RICE: But I think you asked who was supporting it. And I said the Kurdish parties, Prime Minister Maliki and his Shia allies, and the IIP support a plan to do this. And they know that the augmentation of American forces is part of that plan.
Now, as to the question of escalation, I think that I don’t see it, and the president doesn’t see it, as an escalation. What he sees…
HAGEL: Putting 22,000 new troops, more troops in, is not an escalation?
RICE: Well, I think, Senator, escalation is not just a matter of how many numbers you put in. Escalation is also a question of, are you changing the strategic goal of what you’re trying to do? Are you escalating…
HAGEL: Would you call it a decrease, and billions of dollars more that you need for it?
RICE: I would call it, Senator, an augmentation that allows the Iraqis to deal with this very serious problem that they have in Baghdad.