Senator Hagel is the one Republican in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who stood against President Bush’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq. Explaining his reasoning, Hagel noted
There is no strategy. This is a ping pong game with American lives. And we better be damn sure we know what we are doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder.
Meanwhile, Vice President Cheney remains focused on the “enormous successes” our policy in Iraq has created, and grouses that people who oppose the President’s plan “are so eager to write off this effort or declare it a failure.” In Vice President Cheney’s world, we are not in a “terrible situation” in Iraq.
The New York Times has a report today describing the early results of the “surge”:
In a miniature version of the troop increase that the United States hopes will secure the city, American soldiers and armored vehicles raced onto Haifa Street before dawn to dislodge Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias who have been battling for a stretch of ragged slums and mostly abandoned high rises. But as the sun rose, many of the Iraqi Army units who were supposed to do the actual searches of the buildings did not arrive on time, forcing the Americans to start the job on their own.
When the Iraqi units finally did show up, it was with the air of a class outing, cheering and laughing as the Americans blew locks off doors with shotguns. As the morning wore on and the troops came under fire from all directions, another apparent flaw in this strategy became clear as empty apartments became lairs for gunmen who flitted from window to window and killed at least one American soldier, with a shot to the head.
Whether the gunfire was coming from Sunni or Shiite insurgents or militia fighters or some of the Iraqi soldiers who had disappeared into the Gotham-like cityscape, no one could say.
“Who the hell is shooting at us?” shouted Sgt. First Class Marc Biletski, whose platoon was jammed into a small room off an alley that was being swept by a sniper’s bullets. “Who’s shooting at us? Do we know who they are?”