(London, January 4, 2007) In this week's cover story, TIME's Michael Duffy reports that President Bush's expected plan to propose a surge in the number of U.S. forces in Iraq for a period of up to two years is being met with a cool response from generals in Iraq and skepticism by Congressional Republicans.
A senior official tells TIME that the plan, expected to be announced next week, could call for "about 20,000 troops," and maybe more, to be in place within months. Duffy writes that the irony is that while the generals would have liked more troops in the past, they are cool to the idea of sending them now. The joint chiefs of staff have hinted that they would back a surge only if the goals and the goalposts are explicit. "We would not surge without a purpose," said Army Chief Peter Schoomaker. "And that purpose should be measurable."
Duffy reports that, whether Bush intends it that way or not, a surge is probably his last stand, and that many in the military assume privately that a muscular-sounding surge now is chiefly designed to give Bush the political cover to execute a partial withdrawal on his terms later. Frederick Kagan, one of the chief architects of the surge idea, tells TIME, "We think that by bringing the level of violence down and bringing the level of Iraqi support up, we will be able to begin to hand over the country." Asked what happens if the surge fails, he adds, "If the situation collapses for some other reason loss of will in the U.S., say, or an unexpected Iraqi political meltdown, then the reduced violence will permit a more orderly withdrawal, if that becomes necessary, mitigating the effect of defeat on the U.S. military and potentially on the region."
Skepticism among Republicans about the President's thinking on Iraq has become reflexive. In recent weeks, Republican Senators Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, and Arlen Specter have made their discomfort with the proposal known. A senior aide to a G.O.P. Senator tells TIME that "requiring more troops without providing the goals or the message is a killer. It's a political killer." Duffy concludes that this is where the problem of the President's direction on Iraq only damages his cause in the long run. The White House imagines it is girding for battle against the Democrats and the naysayers who opposed the war in the first place. In fact, its fastest-growing problem is with Republicans who carried Bush's water on "stay the course" last fall.
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RICHARD STENGEL: TIME's New On-Sale Day, Friday TIME's managing editor, Richard Stengel, in a letter to readers, announces that this issue marks the arrival of TIME's new on-sale day, Friday. In addition, he describes a series of new, regularly-appearing features, including a history section penned by Niall Ferguson and others; a "Going Green" environmental column by Bryan Walsh; a revived Law section, with reporting by Reynolds Holding; and "The Power of One," a service and volunteer column kicked off by the revered economist Jeffrey Sachs. Stengel writes, "Today our print magazine and TIME.com are complementary halves of the TIME brand." In addition, on January 8, a very different TIME.com will feature a new design, 24/7 news coverage, and a host of new columns and blogs.
ALEX PERRY: In Somalia, A Fragile Hold On Power "Hussein Mohammed Aidid is still getting used to his transformation from warlord to Somalia's Deputy Prime Minister. But his assessment of the precarious hold the new government has on Somalia, after ousting an Islamist regime, is both candid and grim," writes TIME's Alex Perry. "The institutions of the T.F.G. [Transitional Federal Government] are very weak," Aidid says in an interview with TIME at his villa in Mogadishu. "It is a symbolic government. Permanence we do not have. We do not have institutions, we do not have a credible force. Unless [we receive outside assistance] quickly, we have no chance of building a nation."
INTERVIEW: 10 Questions For MAURICE LEVY Maurice Lévy, chief executive of Paris-based advertising giant Publicis, played quite the provocateur in 2006. With the $1.3 billion acquisition of American online ad company Digitas, he is leading his company into the increasingly important Internet market. And he co-authored a controversial report sharply critical of many of postindustrial France's economic policies. He recently talked policy and politics with TIME's Peter Gumbel. "The problem in France is that once you make an error it becomes a taboo. The wealth tax was a mistake, but you can't touch it in case it provokes negative reactions. The 35-hour workweek was also an error, but don't touch it. The right doesn't dare go back on decisions taken by the left," he told TIME.
SIMON ROBINSON: Heroes Are Only Human "We are unlikely to see Shane Warne's kind again. He is a phenomenon, unique, and it seems natural to recognize the fact that his passing will leave cricket fans the poorer. But it's more than just that. We love our greatest athletes because they remind us of what we are not: artful, instinctive, faultless. In their most sublime moments think a Nadia Comaneci routine, a Michael Jordan leap, a Tiger Woods swing, a Zinédene Zidane pass sportsmen and women seem to channel the divine, so perfect are their skills," writes TIME's Simon Robinson. "But when he finally goes when any of our heroes step down we are left with memories, highlights of former glories and all the blemishes, with none of the moments of genius. Retirement makes mortal."
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