Anti-War Liberals Want Stronger Dem Reaction to Bush 'Surge' Plan

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:23pm EDT

( - President Bush's newly announced plan to send more troops into Iraq has drawn opposition from congressional Democrats, but anti-war activists are criticizing both parties.

A Democratic former senator for Alaska and self-described "longshot hopeful" for the presidency in 2008 derided Bush's plan but also criticized Democrats for what he called a "tepid" response.

"The president is either pursuing an illusory and impossible military victory or buying enough time to push the blame for the Iraqi failure onto the next administration while he contemplates military action against Iran," Mike Gravel said in a statement.

"The Democrats, despite their posturing, seem to be on the verge of endorsing more of an unwinnable, unending, costly and murderous war before any serious action is taken," Gravel added.

Bush said Wednesday evening more than 20,000 additional troops would be sent to Iraq in an attempt to quash the increasing violence in Baghdad and Al-Anbar province.

In official reaction to Bush's speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised the Senate would "give his proposal and the overall situation in Iraq a thorough review."

"I believe putting more U.S. combat forces in the middle of an Iraqi civil war is a serious mistake," Reid said. "Last November, voters across America spoke loudly for change in Iraq. In overwhelming numbers, they delivered a vote of no confidence in the President's open-ended commitment, and demanded we begin to bring the war to a close."

While elected Democrats like Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and virtually all of the party's presidential hopefuls have rushed to criticize the "surge plan," most have been largely unwilling to initiate a troop withdrawal.

They have instead proposed "political" solutions like one outlined in a statement by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y).

She said pressure should be placed "on the Iraqi government to resolve the political crisis through phased redeployment of U.S. troops, establishes an Iraqi Oil Trust to end the stalemate over oil, and pursues an aggressive diplomatic strategy including an international conference of the regional parties to further the task of Iraq's stability."

Unelected Democrats and anti-war activists, however, are urging Democrats in Congress to stand against a troop increase and in favor of bringing troops home on a planned timetable.

Gravel called for "an immediate and orderly withdrawal of American troops" to "save the lives of scores of our soldiers and thousands of Iraqi citizens while putting America on the long and winding road to restoring its reputation and influence while protecting its vital interest."

The liberal group said in a statement Thursday that more than 270,000 people have signed its petition opposing an escalation in troop levels. "Escalation is the wrong answer and should be off the table," the petition says. "Instead we should be working to end the way and start a responsible exit."

"Mr. Bush is willing to ignore the clear reality on the ground, disregard the advice of his own generals and dismiss the will of the American people, who oppose this escalation," Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action, said in a statement. "That is why it is now time for Congress to step in and stop the war."

"History will not look kindly on this Congress if it does not step in to end this war," Martin said. "Neither will the electorate in 2008."

Peace Action will participate in a "Mandate for Peace" rally in Washington, D.C., later this month organized by Code Pink. Anti-war activists will march against the war and lobby members of Congress to find ways to end it.

Code Pink has already helped other groups organize nearly 600 small protests around the country to criticize Bush's plan to add troops in Iraq.

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