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January 08, 2007

The Case For The Surge

WSJ: The shortest way home is a bold, heavier-footpring strategy now.

President Bush is set to announce his new strategy for Iraq this week, and the early signs are that it will include both more American and Iraqi troops to improve security, especially in Baghdad. We think the American people will support the effort, as long as Mr. Bush treats this like the all-in proposition it deserves to be.

If the stakes in Iraq are as great as Mr. Bush says--and we believe they are--then he should commit whatever forces are needed to achieve success. The public's support for the Iraq campaign is waning, in major part because the casualties and expense have been producing no visible progress. Even with Democrats running Congress, Mr. Bush has a political window to pursue a more robust security strategy. The paradox is that the fastest way home from Iraq is a bolder commitment now.


The final straw was the failure of Operation Forward Together to secure Baghdad last year. Although many neighborhoods did improve during the "clear" phase, there were too few troops deployed for the "hold" process to work.


The main objections to this new push in Iraq seem to be two: First, that military victory is no longer possible amid a "civil war" in Iraq; and second, that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government is sectarian and thus will not compromise enough to achieve the political ends that must accompany improved security.


What is sure to radicalize the Shiites is an early U.S. departure. They would then have little choice but to call on Iran and Hezbollah and anyone else for the military aid to defeat the Sunni terrorists. The forces of Shiite democracy, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, would be swamped. Then there really could be a Shiite dictatorship in Iraq, along with ethnic cleansing on a scale unseen since the India-Pakistan diaspora.

Bill Kristol in Time:

The foreign policy cognoscenti and the political elites were happy to dismiss the fact that Saddam's trial was a real achievement of a struggling democracy fighting terror and sectarian strife. They were eager to deprecate the fact that Saddam was tried in court before courageous judges under the laws of his nation, with a chance to defend himself. They were willing to pretend it was no big deal to see a tyrant brought low, to see injustice punished and justice done.

Why? Because to dwell on the life and death of this mass murderer might remind Americans of the fundamental justice of the war. It might cause the American people to wonder why, having accomplished this, they should be so quick to give up on accomplishing more. It might cause them to hesitate before succumbing to despair when confronted by the challenges of continued violence and terrorism. It might cause them to wonder whether tyranny might not still be successfully replaced by liberty.


There has been some sniping at the Keane-Kagan plan. But what is striking is that so few of the critics actually go to the trouble of analyzing it--or proposing a substitute. Instead, Keane and Kagan are treated with annoyance and disdain. Don't they know that we're losing in Iraq and that it's time to leave? What's all this talk about staying and fighting and winning? Didn't anyone tell them that the Bush Administration's errors have been so grievous that success is hopeless?

The Keane-Kagan plan is available here in bullet-point form. Not to take it as a "fruit salad," but I'm not sure we need to invest billions more in reconstruction. I'm more of a mind to reduce reconstruction dollars, to right around zero, to any areas which provide haven to terrorists. "Hearts and minds" can be "won" by punitive measures too, especially when the positive, nothing-but-carrots-no-matter-how-many-terrorists-you-harbor model doesn't seem to be working.

I support a surge, and would continue to as long as some metrics begin pointing in the right direction. If they don't, then I guess I'd support pulling the troops back to more easily defended bases, ending patrols, etc., and basically hunkering down in Fortress Kurdistan to watch the Shias ethnically cleanse the Sunnis. Not that that's my preferred position, but if law cannot be restored through less-barbaric methods, then it will be restored, inevitably, through barbarous ones; people will not accept a life of perpetual terrorism, when the solution, albeit bloody and horrid, is within their means.

Poll: I know a surge is controversial even among pro-war conservatives. I made a quickie poll to see where the readership is on this.

The first two answers are binary -- I realize that many who support a surge may only do so if the numbers are big enough, and/or the rules of engagement are loosened up, and/or the strategy is changed, and/or etc. And similarly those who say no may support those other changes, and still wish to win the war -- just without a surge.

But still, all those caveats and preconditions aside, the basic question is still fairly binary.

Or trinary, really, so Observer5 and seattleslough can vote too.

Do you support a surge in Iraq?
pollcode.com free polls

Stupid Poll: Five times I have created a poll with three choices -- the last being "withdraw now." Five times the idiotic site has generated code giving me only "Yes" and "No" options. I give up.

Six Times Now: I don't get it. I continue typing in answer three, the WYSIWYG exemplar of my poll displays correctly, and then the code again spits out only a Yes/No format.

Idiotic. I suppose the software has some stupid bug in it that automatically makes a poll Yes/No only if you include those answers, but I'm no longer in the mood to fight the program.

digg this
posted by Ace at 02:36 PM

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