Sunday, November 19, 2006


The Impending US Troop Buildup in Iraq

The day after the midterm election, I wrote "Iraq War Will Worsen." Since then, the Democrats' forthcoming capitulation to the political siren song of send-more-troops has been hastened. While in Vietnam recently, George Bush said of Iraq, "We'll succeed unless we quit." On Thursday, the Guardian (UK) reported, in part:
President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make "a last big push" to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration's internal deliberations.

Mr Bush's refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said.

Although the panel's work is not complete, its recommendations are expected to be built around a four-point "victory strategy" developed by Pentagon officials advising the group. The strategy, along with other related proposals, is being circulated in draft form and has been discussed in separate closed sessions with Mr Baker and the vice-president Dick Cheney, an Iraq war hawk.

Point one of the strategy calls for an increase rather than a decrease in overall US force levels inside Iraq, possibly by as many as 20,000 soldiers. This figure is far fewer than that called for by the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain. But by raising troop levels, Mr Bush will draw a line in the sand and defy Democratic pressure for a swift drawdown.
"Democratic pressure" will be nil. The main Party leaders and sponsors were never on board with the apparent anti-war sentiment of their base. Late last week, as expected, the House Democrats soundly defeated John "Jack" Murtha in his bid to become Majority Leader. Having fought as a US Marine in Vietnam and voted in favor of authorizing the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Murtha is no dove but last November he turned against the US presence in Iraq, making him the darling of many a benighted liberal. Make no mistake, Democrats in the House absolutely could end US involvement in Iraq next year but they will not--they have neither the will nor the courage to do so.

Echoing Bush's remarks above, today, John McCain told ABC's This Week: "deploying more troops to Iraq would put a 'terrible strain' on the U.S. military, [but] 'there's only one thing worse, and that is defeat.' " According to an AP report of the appearance, McCain said, "I believe the consequences of failure are catastrophic ... It will spread to the region. You will see Iran more emboldened. Eventually, you could see Iran pose a greater threat to the state of Israel."

McCain is a likely 2008 presidential aspirant. Defeat and insecurity for Israel--the Democrats will not be able to answer or stand up to this 'logic.' I hope I'm wrong.

Last revised: 11/20/2006

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You make many good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armements”

The Pentagon is a giant,incredibly complex establishment,budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Adminisitrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be - Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particulary if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefor he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is ablsolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagon instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.
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