Clap Harder

US News and World Report is reporting that President Bush is looking to go "big" in Iraq in next month’s speech on a new policy:

"senior administration officials" who suggested Bush wants more time because he "is planning to do something big" namely, he is "very seriously considering agreeing with John McCain and increasing troop levels." In fact, the Los Angeles Times reports on its front page that "strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to ‘double down’ in the country with a substantial buildup in…troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government." The Times also notes that strategy would overlap "somewhat a course promoted by" McCain. And the Washington Times says "top military officials with whom Mr. Bush met yesterday backed Mr. McCain’s stance."

The only US combat units that are available for a surge operation into Iraq are the units currently in Iraq.  Units will be getting orders to extend their deployments from twelve months to sixteen, seventeen, eighteen months, while the units that were supposed to replace them will instead come in on schedule, or slightly ahead of schedule and fight side by side with the units they were suppose to replace. 

This constraint limits the size of the force to an additional four or five brigades above baseline, or roughly one division.

President Bush indicates that he wants this force to take on both the Mahdi Army and reinitiate the fight in Anbar Province against the Sunni Arab insurgencies.  However the problem is that an additional four or five brigades is only 25,000 troops or so, and this is not enough manpower for either problem.  The Washington Post reported in September that commanders in both Anbar and Baghdad were calling for an extra division in each area.

Introducing a short term surge of American forces into an area will do next to nothing about the violence trend line.  There have been several other temporary surges that have not successfully dampened the insurgency; instead as soon as US troops withdraw and Iraqi forces ‘take over’ security, the violence ramps right back and the situation continues to deterioriate.   The war is lost, and the ability of the United States to influence events on the ground in a manner that is favorable to US interests (define that as you may) is and has been consistently decreasing.  Another 20,000 troops, or 30,000 troops or 60,000 troops for six months will not change this dynamic.

It is time to leave, and to learn how we collectively made and endorsed this horrendous series of decisions.  That is the best that we can do today.

 

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