Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lose, Lose, Lose

Here's some snippets from President Bush's speech on a new Iraq strategy this evening:

The consequence of failure:
The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people...
The cause of failure:
There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.
The new security arrangement:
The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad’s nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort – along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations – conducting patrols, setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.

...this will require increasing American force levels.
The intended result:
...over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad’s residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq’s Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace – and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.

- - -

The President's Iraq plan assumes that there is a cogent, non-sectarian, uncorrupted Iraqi national government to partner with. I propose that this is an illusion, laid bare by Saddam's mob-like execution at the hands of revenging Shi'a. There is no real national government in Iraq that represents all the factions. I don't believe it is possible at this hour.

We're pouring 20,000 more of our forces to go "door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents". Translation: We're going to unwittingly assist one side of this sectarian conflict suppress the other. We will be taking sides in a conflict that goes back more than a millennium.

It has become inordinately difficult to see how our token force of 20,000 additional troops embedded in Iraq's sectarian war will turn the tide in the Global War on Terror.

I supported this war because I felt it was a gamble worth taking, given the data we had at the time regarding Saddam's WMD programs. But through deception from many sides, error, misjudgment, incompetence, stupidity, naiveté, over-exuberance and bad luck, the gamble failed. 20,000 troops in 2007 is 20,000 troops too late.

Perhaps some will think this is an overarching strategy to beef-up forces in the region pending engaging the Iranians. If we need to do that, we need to consider how taking sides in a pointless sectarian war in Iraq now is going to strengthen our resolve in dealing with Iran later. Here's a hint: It won't. It will sap us. The pointlessness of the exercise will be self-fulfilling.

Hell, I'm no military strategist. I don't have a specific strategy in mind to secure even a limited defeat, short of withdrawal. But I think the President's calling for 20,000 troops at this stage of the conflict is not serious. You and I -- private citizens not in uniform -- are asked to do nothing but fret. The sacrifice expected of us is, once again, minimal.

Enjoy your iPhones.