Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Troop 'Surge' Misnamed?

Ignoring growing concerns about his lack of credibility, Bush says he's trying to educate Americans about Iraq and what needs to be done. But calling the troops that Bush is sending to Iraq a 'surge' may be a misnomer if the troops are simply to be trickled in over a number of months. Journalist and Middle East expert Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer suggests it will be a while before the accumulated trickle reaches the troop levels that Bush is calling a 'surge':
All the angst in Washington over President Bush's plan for a troop surge in Iraq is obscuring this reality: There is no "surge."

A surge, according to Webster's dictionary, is a "sudden, strong increase." But the president is sending only a trickle of extra U.S. troops to Baghdad this month and next month. The number is not 21,500 as has been widely reported, but 7,000, according to congressional testimony Wednesday by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. (Four thousand more will deploy to Anbar province.)

An additional 10,500 may come in installments over the next several months—if the Iraqi government delivers on its promises, such as ending the sectarian violence. The likelihood of that is about as good as the odds that you or I will win the lottery.

In other words, even the trickle may soon be cut off.

If I thought a surge could stabilize Baghdad at this late date, and we had enough troops for the job, I would support it. But it won't, and we don't. The whole premise of a surge reflects a belated recognition that the United States didn't send enough soldiers to Iraq in the first place. The president finally admitted "mistakes were made."

Yet, Bush seems determined to keep on making similar errors. ...

Bush likes World War Two analogies. So let me point out that if we had trickled in troops on the beaches of Normandy we would have flat out lost that battle. We won because we threw in troops so fast that we overwhelmed the local German troops before their generals could move in enough reinforcements to throw us back into the sea. In essence, Bush's trickle policy is likely to give the 'enemy' (whoever they are these days) plenty of time to make adjustments. It's also likely to give Bush plenty of time to think of new gambles to get himself into yet a deeper hole.

Here's a question: is the current policy a serious but flawed policy, or a political policy designed to fumble Iraq into the hands of the next president, or an ad hoc policy to keep us in Iraq a bit longer so that we can attack Iran? The Decider-in-Chief has decided but apparently without rational debate and without input from the newly elected Congress. And also without much input from the Iraqis. Let's assume for a moment that it's yet another flawed policy and that Bush still has a few things to learn. So, who educates the Educator-in-Chief?

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