Friday, December 15, 2006

Iraq, iraq, iraq....

Lots of stuff happening today.

Condoleeza Rice rejected the idea of talking to Iran and Syria, as suggested by the Iraq Study Group, saying the cost of a deal would be too high and that if Iran and Syria really want a stable Iraq they'll see that it happens anyway.

Heck, what do we need diplomacy for at all, then?

Meanwhile, President Bush is reportedly considering the "Go big" option, despite the unpopularity of that option with the public and the strain it would put on the military that he has steadfastly refused to expand.

While some key decisions haven't been made yet, the senior officials said the emerging strategy includes:

1. A shift in the primary U.S. military mission in Iraq from combat to training an expanded Iraqi army, generally in line with the Iraq Study Group's recommendations.

2. A possible short-term surge of as many as 40,000 more American troops to try to secure Baghdad, along with a permanent increase in the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps, which are badly strained by deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military commanders look warily at a surge, saying that even 20,000 more soldiers and Marines may not be available and wouldn't necessarily help reduce Iraq's violence.

"We would not surge without a purpose," Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, said Thursday. "And that purpose should be measurable."

3. A revised Iraq political strategy aimed at forging a "moderate center" of Shiite Muslim, Sunni Muslim Arab and Kurdish politicians that would bolster embattled Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. The goal would be to marginalize radical Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents.

4. More money to combat rampant unemployment among Iraqi youths and to advance reconstruction, much of it funneled to groups, areas and leaders who support Maliki and oppose the radicals.

5. Rejection of the study group's call for an urgent, broad new diplomatic initiative in the Middle East to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reach out to Iran and Syria.

Instead, the administration is considering convening a conference of Iraq and neighboring countries - excluding Iran and Syria - as part of an effort to pressure the two countries to stop interfering in Iraq.

Those plans dovetail nicely with a proposal put forth by Fred Kagan at the American Enterprise Institute, which calls for sending seven more brigades into Iraq to begin clear-and-hold operations, then pouring reconstruction aid into the cleared areas.

The plan got a withering response from E.J. Dionne, who ties it to tax cuts and a willingness to put other people's kids in harm's way.

My criticism is more prosaic: The plan reads like a do-over, what we should have done in 2003. I find it difficult to believe that such an approach will make a difference at this late date. Kagan is right that if we decide Iraq is important enough, we'll send the troops over and leave them there instead of rotating them out, allowing us to sustain a large troop presence for a long time.

But besides the damage that will do to the strategic readiness of our military, as well as recruiting and retention rates, what will 40,000 more troops accomplish? Most credible sources said we'd need 300,000 to 500,000 troops to adequately pacify the country in 2003. In 2006 Iraq is a far more unstable place, and even 40,000 more soldiers would only bring our strength up to about 180,000. That might be close to enough, considering most of the trouble occurs in the Sunni and ethnically mixed regions, accounting for about 40 percent of Iraq's population. But given the established nature of the insurgency, I find that doubtful.

Further, the Iraqi government opposes it.

Sigh. I asked for "get serious." But this isn't a big enough troop boost to qualify.

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Blogger Not Your Mama said...

"The plan got a withering response from E.J. Dionne, who ties it to tax cuts and a willingness to put other people's kids in harm's way."

Don't worry too much...guess what they'll do with all those "illegals". It's the "path to citizenship". Get your head blown off for la familia.

12/15/2006 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Complain, complain, complain. Democrats are never happy. First they condemn the President for not sending what they think is just the right amount of troops. (Because, you know, the Dems ALWAYS have all the answers). Now, they complain about his consideration for some more troops, based on what his Generals are supposedly saying.

I've figured out what to expect from Dems. Whatever the President is doing, they will be sure to say the opposite.


12/15/2006 8:12 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

The question is whether it's too late, especially given the relatively small number of additional troops we're talking about.

The proposal is a good one for 2003; it seems inadequate for 2006.

Still, if they're serious about one last push to try to pacify Iraq, I'll support it as long as it is carefully monitored, and not the beginning of a massive Vietnam-style pointless escalation.

12/16/2006 5:22 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Eat my shorts anonymous. We might be slightly less retarded than you think.

12/26/2006 1:51 PM  

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