More horror from Baghdad today, with the Hotel Mount Lebanon destroyed by a car bomb, killing at least 27. There are rumors of Western casualties, but nothing’s been confirmed yet.
Particularly ominous is this initial report from CNN:
Iraqi police and coalition soldiers cordoned off the area. U.S. soldiers from the nearby “Green Zone” attempted to go into the area to rescue victims but were driven back by angry Iraqis.
Later, the troops were able to help the victims.
The Bush Administration said this attack would not change its policy in Iraq.
“We will meet this test with strength and resolve. Democracy is taking root in Iraq and there is no turning back,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
At least he didn’t point to the dead and claim victory. CNN got in some irony points for juxtaposing footage from Baghdad with Vice President DIck Cheney’s speech today (no transcript yet, sorry) at the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., slamming Democractic challenger Sen. John F. Kerry on defense. While Cheney criticized Kerry and claimed he was “ungrateful” to those who served and faced danger, Kerry, in an earlier speech outlining his defense policy at George Washington University, proposed “temporarily” adding 40,000 troops to active duty:
The war in Iraq taught us that a lightening-fast information-age military can drive to Baghdad in three weeks, but the instability that follows requires a large force — and we cannot rely on reservists alone to make up the difference. I propose to add 40,000 troops to the regular Army, not to send to Iraq, but to ease the burden on troops who have been deployed from one global hot spot to the next with no end in sight.
Kerry is wrong on not sending them to Iraq. Another 40,000 might have allowed the U.S. to establish security quickly instead of letting the insurgency attain enough momentum to kill 567 U.S. troops, 101 other troops and God knows how many Iraqi civilians. This is a criminal failure of planning which the Bush Pentagon has yet to acknowledge.
The people of Iraq are still paying the price for that failure a year later.