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FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 2007
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EDITORIAL

How many times must we follow a mistaken leader?

Four years ago, President Bush sent American men and women into Iraq because of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's cooperation with al-Qaida in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Later, we learned that he had no WMDs and Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaida or 9/11.

Strike one.

Wednesday night, President Bush admitted that he made mistakes in the execution of the war. He totally bought into Donald Rumsfeld's theory of waging war on the cheap, with a minimum of firepower.

Strike two.

Now, Mr. Bush wants us to trust his judgment about escalating our participation in a bungled war we should never have begun.

Mr. Bush wants to send 21,500 more American men and women to Iraq — 17,500 to Baghdad and 4,000 to Anbar province.

That is 21,500 more fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and neighbors who Mr. Bush is asking to put their lives on the line for a war that had no legitimate purposed and no clear direction.

How many strikes does he get?

In his speech Wednesday night, Mr. Bush talked about diplomacy with our allies: Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others in the Middle East. He mentioned Iran and Syria, countries that have contributed to the dissension and strife in the region, but declined to consider talks with those major players in the conflict. Quite the contrary, his rhetoric implied an escalation of tensions rather than an interest in a peaceful resolution.

In four years, Mr. Bush has led us to a war under false premises and bungled the execution of that war — at a cost of more than 3,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. He gave radical Islamic terrorists a focal point, a training ground and a justification for jihad. And he diverted valuable resources from the real war on terror taking place simultaneously in Afghanistan.

Now, after admitting those mistakes, Mr. Bush asks us to trust him to bring the war to a successful conclusion and send more Americans to be targets in Iraq.

America has done enough. We won the war and paved the way for a democratic Iraq. The Iraqi government must stand on its own or fall.

As the Iraq Study Group report plainly states, the way forward includes discussions with Iran and Syria, being sure to include other Middle Eastern nations in the talks. As countries in the region, they have as much or more at stake than we do. We were never really threatened until we invaded a sovereign country and gave the terrorists a target and a purpose.

Begin the redeployment of America's soldiers. Now.

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