December 5, 2006

Not "Last" - Try "Next of Many"

Hatched by Dafydd

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal leapt upon the convulsing Iraq-war dogpile with a contrarian argument: rather than discussing how best to manage a withdrawal, as the uninformed media demand, most of the uniformed military recommends sending more troops into Iraq to secure Baghdad and increase trainers and embeds in the Iraqi Army (per Captain's Quarters). From the Journal story, which is free for the moment -- get 'em while they're hot:

As demands mount to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, a growing number of senior military officials are arguing that the only way to salvage the situation is to add more U.S. forces and more U.S. money.

Outside the military, most of the debate is focused on a U.S. troop withdrawal. But inside the Pentagon, the recent dismissal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has given some new life to arguments by military officers who say the U.S. must pour more troops and money into the country to expand the Iraqi army -- the one institution in Iraq that has shown some promise -- and stabilize the capital.

We've discussed this quite a bit on Big Lizards over the last few months, most recently here:

We also noted that noted historian Victor Davis Hanson opines that we don't really need to increase the force level; all we need do, he says, is change the rules of engagement (ROEs) to allow fighting more aggressively; from the second of the two posts above:

Historian Victor Davis Hanson is thinking along the same lines. Here is how he ended a recent column on NRO:

So yes, let us talk about sending more troops, or taking them out altogether, or cry about bad news coverage. But the truth is that, if they were given more tactical leeway to go on the offensive, we would already have enough soldiers in Iraq to win a victory that even a hostile media will have to acknowledge and enemies watching must respect -- but only if we persevere here at home in this latest climate of renewed hysteria.

But after thinking a second time, I believe it's better that we do send more troops. It would produce several undeniable benefits:

  • It would dismay our enemies to see that the net effect of their multi-year effort to influence the American electoral process resulted, not in an "immediate withdrawal" of troops from Iraq -- but in an immediate increase instead;
  • It would hearten our Iraqi allies and perhaps finally convince them that they're not about to be overwhelmed by either al-Qaeda terrorists or Iranian-backed Shiite militias; the more Iraqis shift to having hope for the future, the fewer will be willing to stake all on those 72 raisins in paradise (as their raisins d'etre)... and the more will be willing to risk dying for their new country by joining the army to fight the murderers;
  • We really do need more embedded American soldiers in Iraqi military units; the Iraqi Army does not have the long, long history of honorable service to their country that we have, and they need longer supervision than a couple of years;
  • We desperately need to crack down on Iran, Syria, and even Saudi Arabia, all of whom are still funneling men, munitions, and miltary intelligence across the borders... where they're used to kill Americans as well as Iraqis; if we were to shut the borders entirely except for a few checkpoints (each manned by hundreds of American and Iraqi troops), and undertake to destroy -- no questions asked -- any vehicle or group of men crossing the frontiers anywhere but at a legal checkpoint, we would significantly reduce the resupply for terrorists and militias.

As conservatives never tire of telling us, no country is truly sovereign until it can control its own borders: what is true for the United States is even more true for Iraq, surrounded as it is by deadly enemies.

On that last point, our cheeks (at both ends) should be flushed red to read this story from ABC News online, where we have seized from Iraqi Shiite militia members a batch of Iranian-made weapons and munitions -- with a manufacturer's date of this year, 2006:

U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.

This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. "There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval," says a senior official.

Iran has been supplying both equipment and training for their puppet Muqtada Sadr and his Mahdi Militia, including:

  • Advanced, armor-piercing IEDs;
  • Anti-tank weapons;
  • Terrorism training and support from Hezbollah in Lebanon;
  • And actual Hezbollah terrorist personnel from Syria into Iraq.

(I reckon that will be a major "bargaining chip" we can use when we "talk" to Iran...)

The post linked above from Captain's Quarters, as well as earlier Big Lizards posts, have covered all the top points; but one phrase in the WSJ article really jumped out at me, because the drive-by media -- which sadly includes the news division of the Journal, thought not the editorial page -- has been using the same phrase for some time now:

Rumsfeld Exit Revives Push to Boost Troops, Money in One Last Effort to Stabilize Baghdad....

Senior military officials seeking to make one last push to stabilize Baghdad might find a receptive ear with President Bush.

And here's one we linked in the Guardian Spills the Beans post from the UK Guardian almost three weeks ago:

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.

Note that, despite the wildly misleading quotation marks, we do not, in fact, have a direct quotation from President Bush saying "a last big push." The Guardian is in reality quoting unnamed "sources familiar with the administration's internal deliberations." In fact, if Bush actually said "a last big push," I'd be so stunned, you could knock me over with a bank.

Why would he say "last?" Does the Guardian -- and now the Wall Street Journal -- expect us to believe this is some sort of diabolical bargain Bush has made with the forces of evil; that if this push doesn't work, then he'll prematurely withdraw and leave our Iraqi allies holding his sack?

Far more likely that this is just another invention of the liberal left and its natural allies in the elite media: all right, maybe Bush is in such deep denial that he thinks Iraq is still winnable... but I'm sure that after America fails one "last" time, he'll come to his senses and join the party of defeatism.

How about this reformulation: the US and its allies must make a renewed push to win the war in Iraq; and if that is only partially successful... then, b'God, we'll do it again and again and again, until we achieve victory.

Which is, of course, what every American wants. Right?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 5, 2006, at the time of 7:15 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste

"IED" stands for "Improvised Explosive Device". If an IED is "advanced" and purpose made in a factory in Iran, to be smuggled into Iraq for use there, it isn't improvised.

We need a new term.

The above hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 5, 2006 10:50 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

I have no idea what is needed for US to do over in Iraq... frankly, the news as it has made it to me is so full of contradictions, half lies and concealed truths that I have no idea what is really going on over there.

LOGIC says that we address the inferno at the seat of the fire... and if that is weapons brought in from neighboring countries, maybe we should WITHDRAW from Bagdad and concentrate on the borders.

Hey, if nothing else, it would be great practice for when we bring the troops home!

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 5, 2006 10:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent point, Dafydd. I need to turn in early so I can be ready to jump on the part of the ISG report the leakers didn't want us to know about but I took time to link.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 5, 2006 11:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: TBinSTL

I have had the thought kicking around in my head for some time that, though I'm against a military strategy of increased troop levels, from a political/diplomatic strategy point of view, an increase in troops(even if only a token amount) be announced with every setback(real or manufactured). I would like to have seen an increase announced when Spain went all French on us and anonther when Abu Graib got headlines and even another when each "bodycount milestone" was reached. Too late for many missed opportunities now but it may not be too late for the general principle to be implemented.

The above hissed in response by: TBinSTL [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 6, 2006 3:32 AM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

Actually, Steven, we need to use the correct old term, which is most likely either "booby trap" or "mine".

Here's hoping both for more troops and improved rules of engagement.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 6, 2006 7:26 AM

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