The President’s ‘surge’ proposal will only result in a surge in the number of U.S. soldiers injured or killed in Iraq. Inserting more troops into the growing Iraqi civil war merely increases the exposure of our forces to warring Sunnis and Shiites.

Less than four years into the Vietnam conflict, the U.S. lost 3,000 troops. Eight years later, following a major ‘surge’ of U.S. involvement in the war, 58,000 American servicemen were dead.

Today we stand at a similar precipice in Iraq. As the esteemed novelist and philosopher Santayana said, ‘Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ Unfortunately, the President’s ‘surge’ proposal ignores the mistakes of the past, trying to force a western-style democracy from the barrel of a gun.

It is not the job of the U.S. military to physically play peacemaker between these two warring religious sects. Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite Muslims are in a violent power struggle for control of their country. While our toppling of Saddam has created a vacuum of power resulting in civil war, violent animosity between these two religious factions has existed for centuries. Our troops should not be caught in that crossfire.

Ultimately, it is up to the Iraqis to choose whether they will lay down their arms and participate in a civil society. They can choose to continue down the current deadly path or they can choose to put their religious and ethnic differences aside to work together to build a new Iraq.

Diplomatic efforts to bring to the negotiating table neighboring countries interested in a stable Iraq must continue. But our military involvement must end.