Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Crunch Point's Gonna Come/Bush and Bitburg




What are the Democratic presidential wannabes--as well as those nervous-Nellie Republicans in Congress--going to do? That is, about the war in Iraq. Since George W. Bush initiated his so-called surge (a.k.a. escalation) in Iraq, he and defenders of the war have intermittently claimed there are "signs of progress." But in recent weeks that hollow claim had become increasingly empty. Today, The Washington Post reports:

A senior U.S. military commander said yesterday that Iraq's army must expand its rolls by at least 20,000 more soldiers than Washington had anticipated, to help free U.S. troops from conducting daily patrols, checkpoints and other critical yet dangerous missions.

Even then, Iraq will remain incapable of taking full responsibility for its security for many years -- five years in the case of protecting its airspace -- and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently led the U.S. military's training effort in Iraq.

Appearing before a House panel, Dempsey outlined his assessment of Iraq's 348,000-strong security forces looking into 2008 and the prospects that they can take over from U.S. troops. He said the Iraqi forces are improving but are still riddled with sectarianism and corruption and are suffering from a lack of leaders and the attrition of tens of thousands of members -- including 32,000 police between mid-2005 and January.

His projection of the size of the police force required to help bring stability -- 195,000 -- is more than 40 percent higher than Washington estimated in 2003. The remarks follow other blunt comments by U.S. military commanders that civilian deaths and attacks on U.S. troops have recently risen and that particularly tough fighting is expected in the coming months.

Building a competent Iraqi security force is at the center of the U.S. effort to turn over military operations, but serious gaps in the capability of Iraqi forces are limiting their role in pacifying Baghdad and safeguarding civilians under the counterinsurgency plan being implemented by the top U.S. commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, Dempsey said.


In a posting yesterday, I wondered how Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards would handle the question of how many U.S. troops would have to remain in Iraq after the general withdrawal of combat forces they each have promised. (My hunch: Edwards, looking to set himself off as more antiwar than the two other leading Dems, would seek to make an issue out of this and pledge to enact a larger pullout. Yes, my withdrawal is bigger than your withdrawal.) But now the question appears to be, who is willing to pull the plug on an enterprise that currently shows few (if any) indications of success? Are HRC, Clinton or Edwards prepared to pronounce the war a failure, really pull out of Iraq, and suffer whatever consequences arise?

But before a new president is faced with that decision, Congress will again be bedeviled. With the "surge" going nowhere, the Democratic leaders in Congress will be under more political pressure to stop Bush's war. The see-you-in-September point I've referred to in previous posts is fast approaching--as is a request from the White House for next year's war funding. Last month's debate over the Iraq war funding legislation was merely a warm-up for what's coming soon. Moreover, several key Republicans in Congress--who are anxious about heading into next year's elections with the unpopular war continuing--have in recent weeks proclaimed that time (and their patience) is running out. How will they react to the latest assessment?

It's clear that the United States cannot half-ass it's way through Iraq. If Bush were truly serious, he'd send another 150,000 troops (and perhaps institute a draft to get them.) Still, there's no guarantee such an escalation would work. (See Vietnam.) But it's obvious that what's happening now--creeping escalation--is not succeeding. So what politician is going to have the guts to say America has failed and ought to extricate itself from Iraq? Who's willing to be branded a defeatist?

BUSH'S BITBURG MOMENT? On Monday, during his visit to Bulgaria, Bush, according to the AP, "prayed before a wreath at an eternal flame that marks Bulgarian's tomb of the unknown soldier." This tomb is a memorial to Bulgarian soldiers who have died while fighting for their country. But in World War II, Bulgaria fought with the Nazis against the Allied powers--until Russia declared war on Bulgaria on September 5, 1944. So was Bush praying for soldiers that supported Nazism? How ecumenical. (If you're too young to get the Bitburg reference, Google it.)

McCAIN's PROBLEM. Why is John McCain sputtering instead of soaring? It may be that his age is showing or that he has gone from the insurgent candidate of 2000 to the establishment contender of 2008 (and, subsequently, has pandered to social conservatives). Now here's another clue: almost all of McCain's top campaign consultants (except for two long-term advisers) are former George W. Bush strategists. The guys who destroyed McCain on behalf of Bush in 2000 are now running his presidential effort. It looks like they will ruin his presidential chances twice.

Posted by David Corn at June 13, 2007 09:31 AM

4 comments:

Robert S said...

If Bush were truly serious, he'd send another 150,000 troops (and perhaps institute a draft to get them.) Still, there's no guarantee such an escalation would work. (See Vietnam.) - David Corn

I blinked; my brain not comprehending; or rather, in cognitive dissonance:

Still, there's no guarantee such an escalation would work. (See Vietnam.)

Well, sooner I'd say that there is an almost absolute guarantee of failure of such an excersize, but, friends, it is gedanken experiment time.

Describe the day after Bush announces the escalation and imposition of a draft.

Gerald said...

A general says we need more troops in Hitler Bush's hellhole. Numbers are not always the answer. We cannot continue to be rule by an idiot.

McCain reminds me of Cain in the Book of Genesis. He has the name all right.

capt said...

New Thread

Gerald said...

More troops are needed in Iraq in order for Nazi America to launch a ground attack in Iran after 40 days of blowing the shit out of Iran.

We are ruled by an idiot.