If Congress is to derail President Bush’s wayward plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, it must offer more than non-binding resolutions and bluster on the Senate floor. It must come up with a responsible and compelling alternative. As Bush challenged his critics last month, “My only call to Congress is that if you’ve got a better way to succeed, step up and explain it.” Congress can, and should, do so.
Bush is right that theUnited States cannot merely walk away from the war; ifIraq becomes a lost cause, the likely results include the regional spread of sectarian violence, the intervention ofIraq’s neighbors, and the expansion of terrorist sanctuaries. But Bush is wrong to insist that the United States faces a stark choice between sending more U.S.troops to Iraq and giving up. By altering its war aims before it is too late, theUnited Statesstill has a fighting chance of avertingIraq’s collapse and the regional spread of the conflict. In contrast, dispatching another 17,500 soldiers to confront militias inBaghdad simply puts additional resources behind failed policies, risking a steady slide toward all-out civil war.