Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The scent of desperation
"Though it's tempting to think that adding troops for a little while would solve the problem, this is a seductive and dangerous road. It's the same vague reasoning that led to sending hundreds of thousands of troops to Vietnam. ..."
-- From the editorial board of USA Today
So president Bush won't listen to the generals when they say it's too late, not to mention counterproductive, to send more troops into Iraq. He won't listen to the ex-generals, either. Or the Iraq Study Group. Or Collin Powell. Or the military experts from all of non-neocon think tanks, including the Council on Foreign Relations. Or the American people. He wants an LBJ-esque "troop surge" in Iraq. He'll even disguise it under a needed overall increase in U.S. armed forces if he has to.

The latest gambit: send Bob Gates to Iraq to "bypass the filter" of the uniformed military leadership, and ask the troops what they want. Well that in the hell do you think they want? They want back-up, meaning more troops. So will this be Bush's way of using the soldiers as a prop, yet again, in order to create an excuse to turn "I listen to the generals" into this year's "read my lips, no new taxes?" Righto. More from that USAT editorial:
So far, there's not much specificity beyond "more troops in Baghdad." Where in a city of 5 million would they go? Which warring groups would they fight? How would this be different from what's not working? This is the most pointed criticism of the surge idea, and the president acknowledged it at a news conference Wednesday, saying he would only approve a "specific mission." The fact that he couldn't immediately articulate one suggests the surge is an idea in search of credibility, not a strategy developed to solve a defined problem.

Assuming the short-term goal is to stabilize Baghdad, which the administration has labeled the definitive battleground, the next question is whether that is achievable. U.S. and Iraqi forces have been trying to pacify the capital since summer by massing forces there, but an unusually downbeat Pentagon report revealed this week that "Operation Together Forward" seems only to have intensified the violence. The report notes that the effort to control the violence in Baghdad worked at first, but that the insurgents adapted and violence surged again in September. One factor: Iraqi police tipped insurgents to raids by U.S. and Iraqi troops, allowing the bad guys to melt away. ...

... Bush likes to say he listens to his commanders about troop levels, and two of the nation's wisest combat veterans — former secretary of State Colin Powell and Gen. John Abizaid, the outgoing top U.S. commander in the Middle East — have advised against surging U.S. troops.

Sending more troops to Iraq would have been a good idea in 2003 to stabilize the country after Saddam Hussein was toppled. Today, it has the scent of doubling down on a losing bet, a desperate option seized upon because the cost of others is so high.

Promoters of the more-troops option Bush is considering include Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and neoconservative think tanks that supported the war and are frustrated with its failures. Those supporters should ask themselves one more question: Would they want their own children "surged" into a chaotic environment with such an ill-defined mission and limited prospects of success?
My guess would be they would not.

The bottom line is, everybody knows that the Iraq war is lost and over, except for President Bush and a last remnant of his wack-job followers. Oh, and Joe Lieberman and John McCain. How pathetic. Even Reagan Republicans like Joe Scarborough have begun to describe the president as dangerously isolated and almost delusional in his determination to "stay the course." What is it going to take? How many lives is this president willing to waste in his vain pursuit of "victory" in Iraq? Dude, there IS no victory to be had in Iraq. They're not fighting us, they're fighting each other, and we're in the way.

It's time to leave Iraq.

And if I were the Democrats in Congress, I would prevent Bush's vain little troop surge the old fashioned way: by refusing to pay for it. The Dems should tell the president: we will fund only ongoing battlefield necessities for existing forces (including necessary troop rotation), but won't give you a dime for a single soldier more. Period.

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posted by JReid @ 9:14 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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