Bottom’s Up

Since its inception at the beginning of the year, the “surge” has not been so much a set strategy as opposed to an amorphous entity, shifting from one month to the next in terms of time, goal, and method of achieving this goal.  The only thing that seems to stay intact in regards to the surge is the constant shifting of goalposts in order to keep support for the strategy high enough to avoid being axed by congress.

As a result of the supposed “Anbar Awakening” part of the shift in how we view the surge is that it’s no long a top down strategy, but instead a bottom up one:

In truth, we just learned from the Weekly Standard that looking at benchmarks and top down political progress is so last year.

Okay, I’ll bite, let’s take a look at this whole Bottom Up strategy for a minute:

Stephen Biddle, a military analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a key proponent of the patchwork-quilt strategy. But even he emphasizes that the idea would be a political nonstarter if it resulted in a lot more American deaths. The American public, he said in a phone interview, will support overseas deployments of troops—even for many years—as long as not many get killed. For instance, 64,000 U.S. troops are still in Germany, 60 years after the end of World War II and 16 years after the end of the Cold War. American soldiers have been keeping the peace in Bosnia now for more than a decade since the defeat of Slobodan Milosevic. In both operations, virtually no American soldiers have died as a result of hostile fire. (Biddle is a member of Petraeus’ advisory panel, but he emphasized that his views here are entirely his own.)

Biddle also said (again, expressing his personal view) that the strategy in Iraq would require the presence of roughly 100,000 American troops for 20 years—and that, even so, it would be a “long-shot gamble.”

One hundred thousand troops for twenty years and it’s still a “long-shot gamble”? Are you serious? This is the great success we’re hoping for? And keep in mind, Biddle’s no anti-war left propagandist, no, we’re talking a guy who’s actually working for Patraeus. Granted, he’s expressing his own views, but still… gamble?

My oldest daughter is three, my youngest is one. This means that if things go according to plan, they’ll both be old enough to enlist and head off to Iraq just in time to catch the end credits.

Because I wouldn’t want them to miss out on all the great things happening over there.


(h/t Kevin Drum)

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