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Whats Another Word for Quagmire? - August 29, 2003

Times Watch for August 29, 2003



Whats Another Word for Quagmire?

Douglas Jehls Friday piece on the high cost of occupation in Iraq doesnt contain the word quagmire, but it may as well: But after four months in which the American occupation of Iraq has exacted a heavy toll, and with no end in sight, the new American approach to the United Nations can be seen as a call for help in the face of a politically intolerable arithmetic.

To make his case that Bush is suffering politically, Jehl turns to that well-known fount of objectivity, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, who says: We're 95 percent of the deaths, 95 percent of the costs, and more than 90 percent of the troops. The costs are staggering, the number of troops are staggering, we're seeing continuing escalation of American casualties, and we need to turn to the U.N. for help, for a U.N.-sanctioned military operation that is under U.S. command. Besides Biden, the only other source Jehl quotes is James Steinberg, President Clintons deputy national security adviser, who dismisses a U.S. donors conference intended to raise cash for Iraqi rebuilding.

Is the U.S. situation in Iraq really as politically intolerable as Jehl claims? So far U.S. patience is holding firm, according to a new Gallup poll that finds Americans seem resolute in their support of the mission: Sixty-three percent say the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over. That's exactly the same as the readings from two July Gallup Polls that asked this question, and higher than the late June reading of 56%.

Jehl continues: With nearly 140,000 American soldiers still in Iraq, the military costs alone are running at nearly $4 billion a month, administration officials have said. More American troops have been killed since major combat operations ended than during them, at least 64 of them by hostile fire in a guerrilla resistance that shows no sign of dissipating.

For the rest of Douglas Jehls story, click here.