Activists condemn “surge”

President Bush announced Jan. 10 that he intended to send 20,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq. In a speech, he said that 16,000 of these troops would help to stop sectarian violence in Baghdad, while 4,000 would help in the Anbar province. The “surge,” as it has come to be called, officially began Jan. 21 when the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne landed in Iraq. The brigade of 3,200 troops arrived a day after at least 20 U.S. troops were killed, the highest daily death toll in the past two years. A Newsweek poll found that more than 2/3 of Americans oppose the escalation and only 24 percent approve of Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq. The poll also found that 55 percent of people trusted Democrats in Congress to handle the war more than the president, despite the fact that most Congressional Democrats have appeared helpless in stopping the surge, though they could easily introduce a bill limiting the number of troops in Iraq. Many Ames residents expressed their disapproval of the surge at the Ames Veteran’s Memorial Jan. 11. Over 100 people lined up along Grand Ave. holding signs condemning the war. Former Congressional candidate Dr. Selden Spencer spoke at the protest before protestors lined up. Ames High senior Glenn Martin came to the protest. “This was not the first protest I had ever been to, but definitely one of the coldest,” Martin said. “I attended the protest because in my opinion, there is no way that sending more troops will fix the war in Iraq. I had heard about the protest the night before at Progressive Club, and was determined to go, despite the terrible weather that evening.” Martin is one of many students who are against the war in Iraq. “I don’t like the escalation,” junior Andrew Coyle said. “I really haven’t liked the war at all. I think the U.S. presence in Iraq is not helping.” Senior Jacob Johnson-Muyengwa, who is joining the army, thought that a lot of the information about the surge will not be revealed for some time yet. “I think there’s a lot of politics going on behind closed doors,” Johnson-Muyengwa said. “I think we’ll find out more about what’s really going on five to ten years from now.” Some Ames High students even thought the surge might help. “In all likelihood, it’ll help us get out faster,” senior Chris Parsons said. “It’s not a lot, but I think it’ll help.”