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Letter from the Editor

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Remember the "Coalition of the Willing"? It was all the rage back in 2003. President Bush managed -- by coercion, sweet-talk, bullshit, or a combination thereof -- to convince 25 countries that sending troops to invade Iraq alongside American forces was a good idea.

The coalition's forces once totaled 50,000 soldiers. Almost four years later, that number is down to around 15,000 -- and falling fast. Italy pulled out its remaining 3,000 troops last month. South Korea is down to 2,300 troops and is considering withdrawing all of its forces by the end of the year. Even Great Britain, our staunchest ally with 7,000 troops, is planning to cut its forces in half in the next few months. The bottom line is clear: The Coalition is no longer Willing.

And neither is the American public. In November, they voted the Republicans in Congress who enabled this fiasco out of power. Every recent opinion poll indicates that almost 70 percent of Americans think putting more troops in Iraq is a bad idea. And this is after Bush's dead-eyed speech to "rally" the country last week.

At least nine Republican senators have said the surge is a bad idea. Many conservatives, including George Will, Joe Scarborough, and Bush syncophant Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal have come out against it. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group is against it. The former generals on the ground are against it. The Iraqi government is against it.

They all understand that sending 20,000 more Americans into a four-sided (and counting) civil war where every enemy fighter looks the same makes no sense. It's too little, too late. That's why other countries are pulling troops out. That's why the American public is deadset against the surge.

But the Decider hears no one. He listens only to his "heart." He says he won't change his mind, even if the only people who support him are "Laura and Mrs. Beasley [his dog]."

Now is the time, friends, to write letters to your congressman, to be loud and vociferous, to make sure we stop this fool before he kills again. Those are our precious troops, not his playthings. This is our country, not his.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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