We’ve been down this road before. This time, it has to be different. There have been too many times that President Bush has promised a new strategy on Iraq, only to repeat the same old set of failed approaches and unachievable objectives. Americans need to hear Bush offer something truly new — not more glossy statements about victory, platitudes about what war is, or aimless vows to remain “until the job is done.” If the voters sent one message to Bush last November, it was that it is time to start winding down America’s involvement in this going-nowhere war.

Bush is widely expected to announce on Wednesday a significant increase in American troops to deploy in Baghdad. He needs to explain to Congress and the American people where the dangerously tapped-out military is going to find those troops. And he needs to place a strict time limit on any increase, or it will turn into a thinly disguised escalation of the American

combat role.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that just under 23,000 Iraqi civilians and police officers died violently in 2006, more than 17,000 of them in the last six months. That is a damning indictment of the Maliki government, and of current American military strategy. That is the Iraq that Americans want Bush to deal with Wednesday night.