Friday, January 05, 2007

For Bush, Troop Surge Is Last, Best and Worst Hope

President Bush and his brain trust still have the weekend to put the finishing touches on his new Iraq war initiative but it’s evident that an increase in ground troops of at least twenty thousand and possibly forty thousand will be the main piece to the puzzle. Unlike in the past, this current Bush White House is showing deep divisions over whether this is the right policy but the President has made the decision to go forward with the troop surge as soon as his new diplomatic and military teams are in place.

Today, Bush will announce that Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus will replace Gen. George W. Casey Jr. as commander of the multinational forces in Iraq. Also, Navy Adm. William J. Fallon will be nominated to replace Gen. John P. Abizaid as the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East. For his diplomatic team, Bush is set to appoint Ryan C. Crocker the new ambassador to Baghdad. Zalmay Khalilzad, who is the current ambassador to Iraq, will be nominated to become the top U.S. envoy at the United Nations, replacing John R. Bolton.

The decision by Bush to send more troops to Iraq, which he will present to the American people on Wednesday, will be severely criticized by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel calls the plan to increase troops “Alice in Wonderland. I’m absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly.” Joe Biden, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign relations Committee, is even more critical of the decision. "I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost," Biden said. "They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy -- literally, not figuratively."

There are no good options left for this President. Although the American voters showed their displeasure and unease with the situation on the ground in Iraq at the voting booth in November, he is not, nor will he ever, be willing to admit that his administration’s handling of the war has been catastrophic. Twenty thousand more troops deployed in 2006 will not be sufficient to change the situation, especially after his military leaders plainly told him he needed more troops on the ground from the beginning. Think back to what Chief of Staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, 2003: “I would say that what's been mobilized to this point -- something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground- force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this.”

At the time, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, threw Shinseki under the bus, calling his estimate “far off the mark.” Four months later Shinseki was gone, but his prediction has more than stood the test of time. Twenty thousand or forty thousand, whatever the final number is, will still be far below what is necessary to control Iraq. After four years, the insurgency has perfected its killing machine and it would take a minimum of one hundred and fifty thousand more American and Coalition troops to have any chance of stopping that machine from churning. Winston Churchill said, “Never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.”

Bush is unmoved. “One thing is for certain: I will want to make sure the mission is clear and specific and can be accomplished,” Bush said Thursday. This is the same rhetoric that has been coming from his administration for the last three years but what other choice does he have? Any other decision would be an acknowledgement he, Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the neo-conservatives were wrong, so the only choice left is to fight on.

Philosopher Simone Weil said, “The great error of nearly all studies of war... has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics.” President Bush and his White House failed in their Iraq policy from the start; failed to anticipate the sectarian violence that plagues Baghdad today. Yet, they were clearly told what would be necessary to secure the peace in 2003. Now, more American troops are going to be sent into harm’s way by a President who vows to remain relevant during his last two years in office. To say it’s “too little, too late” would just be piling on.


Anonymous Tim said...

cindy sheehan is a crazy kook!

11:46 PM  

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