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The Iraq War Goes On

By Ed Koch

The war in Iraq goes on.

The most respected war correspondent in Iraq is John F. Burns of The New York Times, who seems to discuss the war in Iraq nightly on New York City television stations. You can't mistake him. While the U.S. soldiers he regularly describes have G.I. haircuts, his hair has the look of an unshorn Merino sheep. From under that wildly uncombed head of hair comes the clearest analysis of what is happening on the ground in Iraq.

Burns is bearish on his expectations of what will result from the Bush "surge" following the introduction of 21,000 more U.S. troops into Iraq, 17,000 of whom will be assigned to Baghdad. The city of Baghdad holds 25 percent of Iraq's population consisting of both Shiites and Sunnis. Almost every day, fifty to one hundred Iraqi civilians are victims of the escalating civil war between those two groups. Their tortured executed bodies are found in Baghdad. Many victims have been hung from lampposts. President Bush's announced purpose of increasing our troops in Baghdad is to stop the sectarian violence.

In a recent New York Times article Burns wrote, "First among the American concerns is a Shiite-led government that has been so dogmatic in its attitude that the Americans worry that they will be frustrated in their aim of cracking down equally on Shiite and Sunni extremists, a strategy President Bush has declared central to the plan."

Quoting an unnamed American official, Burns wrote, "We are being played like a pawn."

The chief culprit in escalating the sectarian religious violence is Moktada al-Sadr who rules supreme in the "main stronghold for the Mahdi army militia," according to Burns. If the Sunni militants are to be brought under control so must the Shiite militants. Burns wrote, "American officers say it is far from clear that the Maliki government will permit American troops to operate freely in the enclave (Sadr city in Baghdad)."

Democrats must find a way to adopt binding language on the administration that will start the process of U.S. disengagement unless our Arab and NATO allies join us and provide combat forces in Iraq. Pending our departure from Iraq, our troops engaged in combat must be authorized by the Maliki government to treat equally under rules of engagement both Sunni and Shiite insurgents.

President Bush should demand that Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqi parliament immediately enact a resolution empowering U.S. forces to proceed against both Shiite and Sunni insurgents and terrorists. If Maliki supports and believes in President Bush's announced program, which Bush has said is Maliki's program, he will have no problem in obtaining the resolution. If he declines or is unable to obtain its passage, every American, whether supportive or opposed to the President's policy, should make known to the President and the Congress their support for bringing our troops home.

* * *

In questioning Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the U.S. Senate, Barbara Boxer raised the issue of Rice being single, having no children in the military, and therefore being unqualified to make policy on the war in Iraq. What nonsense! Does Boxer really believe that public officials are only capable of doing what is best for them personally, and not what's best for the country?

Boxer's outburst was criticized by some Democratic senatorial colleagues. She should have been formally denounced by them as the disgrace she is to the Democratic Party.

When will Californians throw her out of office? Regrettably, not soon. In the 2004 election, Boxer defeated her opponent by a margin of 20 percent. There must be a word to describe her prejudice and lack of respect for single and childless women. Let me have your suggestion.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

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