While the president keeps listening in Washington, six members of Congress have traveled to Iraq to get a closer view of the problems there -- or at least to provide a more compelling backdrop for advocating their own long-held views on the war.
As the Associated Press reports, John McCain acknowledged today that U.S. military commanders with whom he's met in Iraq didn't ask that more U.S. troops be sent there. But McCain is making that call from Baghdad anyway, saying that the United States should send between 15,000 and 30,000 more combat troops to help control sectarian violence.
Joe Lieberman, who made the trip with McCain, seems to be on the same page as his Republican colleague. "We need more, not less, U.S. troops here," he said.
What does the Pentagon think? That depends on which newspaper you read. As we've noted, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that there's "strong support" at the Pentagon for a plan to dramatically increase U.S. troop strength in Iraq. But the Washington Post reports today that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with whom the president met yesterday, "do not favor adding significant numbers of troops to Iraq." Moreover, the Post says, the U.S. combat troops already in Iraq would be pulled out of Iraqi cities and into a few U.S. bases under a plan now being reviewed by Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
What does the public think? In a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, two-thirds of Americans say they think the United States is already doing all it can to quell sectarian violence in Iraq, and 69 percent say they feel "less confident" rather than "more confident" that the war in Iraq will come to a "successful conclusion."