President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make “a last big push” to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration’s internal deliberations.
We’ve seen a “big push” in Baghdad before. In mid-June, President Bush announced a major effort to secure Baghdad, stating at a news conference that over 7,000 U.S.-led coalition troops would be moved into the city. “This operation is a joint effort to restore security and rule of law to high-risk areas in the capital city,” Bush said.
A record number of Iraqi civilians were reported killed in October. “Statistics issued by the Interior Ministry for Iraqis killed in political violence put civilian deaths last month at 1,289. That is nearly 42 a day and is up 18% from the 1,089 seen in September. September’s figures themselves were a record high.” In Baghdad, the morgue reported the official toll of violent deaths in August was 1535, a level in line with previous months.
Administration officials have been forced to concede that the Baghdad big push had failed:
BUSH: After some initial successes, our operations to secure Baghdad have encountered greater resistance. Some of the Iraqi security forces have performed below expectations. … I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I’m not satisfied, either.
AMBASSADOR KHALILZAD: It has not produced the results I expected so far. The plan is being reviewed, and adjustments will be made. No, it has not performed to the level that was expected.
GEN. CALDWELL: Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas but has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in the levels of violence.
359 U.S. troops have died since the Baghdad operation began. Moreover, U.S. deaths in Iraq peaked last month, the deadliest month of the Iraq war since American forces made big pushes in Fallujah in April and November of 2004.
The lessons from the last “big push” in Baghdad demonstrates that the American occupation is fueling the insurgency’s fire. A recent poll of Iraqis indicated that support for attacks on U.S.-led forces has grown to a majority position — now six in ten. The administration is apparently ready to make the same mistake once again.