Gas Smell in New York, Birds Die in Austin

Interesting this happens today when Bush is to announce troop increases Wednesday.

http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=65718

Austin, Texas had a great death of birds.  Here is the text of an editorial in their major newspaper published yesterday:

This ‘Bring Them Home’ editorial ran today in the Austin American-Statesman.

EDITORIAL

Bring them home

EDITORIAL BOARD

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Rather than increase the number of troops in Iraq, President Bush should bring our forces home and allow any Iraqis whose lives would be endangered by the withdrawal to immigrate to the United States.

The president is contemplating a “surge” of 20,000 or more troops into Iraq, but should focus instead on the thousands of troops who have died since 2003 and the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have died in a poorly executed war. An announcement of a change in strategy is expected soon, perhaps as early as this week.

Unfortunately, there is little reason to think that a temporary surge of troops would have more than temporary effect. And what’s temporary? Six months? Six years? All the militants of any faction need to do is fall back and wait for U.S. troops to go away. They live there, we don’t.

From the start, the president has grossly underestimated the cost in lives, the cost in money and the amount of time it would take to prosecute the war.

As the toll in lives, time and money mounted, the president refused to face up to it, much less present it to the public. No doubt Bush knows support for the war would erode even further if Americans were called upon to pay for the war with a tax increase. More than 3,000 American families and more than a dozen Central Texas families have paid and are paying for the war with the blood of their fathers, mothers, sons and daughters killed since the war began in 2003. That doesn’t include the hundreds of Fort Hood troops who have died in Iraq since the war began.

We are grateful for the sacrifice and valor the troops have demonstrated but feel the best way to honor them is to stop the bleeding.

We might be willing to endure this war longer if there were any sense that a majority of Iraqis was committed to defending against a violent minority a new democratic government.

What we see instead is a newly empowered and angry Shiite majority facing off against a Sunni minority that cruelly ruled Iraq for decades even as another group, the Kurds, hunkers down against all comers. There are Islamic terrorists involved, too, but take them all out and there is still a civil war.

There would be a risk in pulling out most troops over the next year or so — just as there is a risk of sending in more. The risk of pullout is still more violence, but that very threat might also prompt the various factions to reconsider how they might fare without U.S. troops serving as a firewall.

This newspaper supported the invasion, primarily because we were persuaded by multiple warnings of Iraq’s efforts to get weapons of mass destruction — and Saddam Hussein’s history of using them. The failure to find such weapons has done extreme damage to the Bush administration’ s credibility on Iraq, as has its failure to back up its allegations of a link between Saddam and al Qaeda.

Some have said that Bush’s real motive all along was a “neoconservative” ambition to install a democratic government in Iraq that would serve its own people and as an example — and a prod — to other Middle Eastern nations still ruled by strongmen or tribal interests.

But the Bush administration’ s misjudgments and even outright incompetence might have destroyed whatever chance there was to create a democratic Iraq. To name two often cited examples: the decision to send a much smaller military force into Iraq than some generals thought wise; and the disbandment of the defeated Iraqi Army that left hundreds of thousands of men unemployed, undisciplined and angry.

Some good has come out of the invasion. Saddam has been overthrown and executed, and the Iraqis held their first election. Keeping U.S. troops in Iraq, however, appears to be aggravating the sectarian violence that has the country in a death grip.

Are Americans to believe now that the administration has figured out how to build a democratic nation in the Middle East? We think Americans gave their answer in the Nov. 7 elections. If the president insists that this nation must remain fully engaged in Iraq, then he ought to lay out the full price of doing so — and call on the American people to start paying it now rather than continue to dump its cost on our children by borrowing the money. Yet he’s already ruled out any tax increase.

The best way forward in Iraq is to start pulling out U.S. troops and to invest in diplomatic efforts to protect and advance our interests in the Middle East.

The old strategy has failed, and putting more troops in Iraq will make little difference in curbing the violence but will forever alter the lives of the troops and their families.

It is time to end the misery.

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