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Novak: Bush's 'surge' and new strategy will not win the war
Mike Sheehan
Published: Wednesday April 11, 2007
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Conservative columnist Robert Novak says that President Bush's new strategy in Iraq will lead to failure.

"The early reports from Baghdad indicate the 'surge' and new strategy will not win the war," writes Novak in the latest edition of the Evans-Novak Political Report. "The expectation from all sides is that a troop removal will be underway in earnest by year's end, no matter who is winning the war."

Novak says the troop boost in Iraq is affording "mixed results," but the feedback so far is decidedly negative.

"The heightened U.S. troop presence, according to the top commanders, appears to be pushing the violence out of certain areas, but it has increased in others," he asserts. "Meanwhile, U.S. troop deaths are skyrocketing, with very little attention being paid to this fact at home."

In mid-March, RAW STORY reported how Philadelphia Daily News writer Will Bunch accused news site The Drudge Report of passing off questionably low casualty figures. Bunch wrote that in fact, "Americans are still dying now in Iraq at a higher-than-average rate for this conflict." Novak himself notes that the grand total of troop deaths is approaching 3,300.

The conservative commentator also has much to say about Sen. John McCain's "recent ordeal" in Iraq, where the 2008 GOP White House hopeful was embarrassed after declaring Baghdad safe, only to appear in a local market accompanied by a large U.S. military escort and donning a flak jacket.

McCain's gaffe "illustrates the political problem the war is posing for Republicans," writes Novak. "Part of the precaution surely stems from his status as a presidential candidate, but the message was clear: Iraq is not safe."

Novak also predicts trouble next year for GOP candidates seeking the White House. "All of the top Republican contenders are supportive of President Bush on the Iraq War," he says. "But by next year, the Republican presidential nominee will have to answer whether he believes, in retrospect, that the war was a good idea.

"If he cannot summon up a 'no,' or at least a 'maybe not,'" opines Novak, "then his general election chances will diminish significantly."

Continuing on the Arizona senator, Novak writes that "McCain's attempt after a weak fundraising quarter to use the war as a positive political issue is perhaps the greatest sign of the desperation the war causes."

He says that the war could be called the "last refuge" for Republicans, but he adds, "One must be hurting badly in order to try to make support for the Iraq War an asset."