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Saturday, January 13, 2007

THE ESCALATING AUGMENTATION

This is belated response to Bush's new way forward in Iraq. I apologize to both of my readers for the delay. It has been somewhat surprising find myself in the mainstream, opposing the addition of possibly 22,000 more troops for Iraq.

We have over 130, 000 troops there, seemingly unable to create a secure Iraq and its capital, Baghdad. Many military and civilian experts say that several hundred thousand are need to quell an insurgency in a country of this size. And, in Iraq, there is not only an insurgency but also a number of murderous sectarian civil wars. So, what good will 20,000 more American troops do? And if that is the number, mostly for Baghdad, it would seem that they could be drawn from other parts of Iraq. It is claimed that 80% or more of Iraq is secure and we are telling Prime Minister Maliki to take Iraq troops from secure areas and move them to Baghdad to "lead" the efforts to secure that city.

Although Iraq is supposedly a sovereign nation, there is no question that the U.S. is forcing this "new direction". We are also demanding Iraqi funds for building and reconstruction, with additional funding from the U.S. (What happened to all the billions we supposedly spent for this purpose?) Another condition to be imposed is progress on the formation of a real unity government.

If this sounds familiar, it is. We have asked for the supply of Iraqi troops before and we have been demanding political accommodation for a long time. So this time do we really mean it?

As others have stated, Bush is really rolling the dice, throwing good money after bad, or going "all in". It has to be his last shot for achieving success, whatever that is. There is no end to the dire warnings that premature withdrawal by us would mean an Iraq in chaos. Maybe. But it is mostly chaos now and if the test for success is comparison with Iraq before our improvident invasion, the bar for success is really not that high.

The invasion and occupation has been a disaster for Iraq and its people. But it is even worse for us - deaths, casualties, huge expense, loss of international respect, and most of all, distraction from real threats. We are in danger of losing Afghanistan and should be sending the 20,000 troops there.

Interestingly, Bush probably could have achieved much of this troop increase gradually, without incurring such widespread opposition. But he waited until the election and, theoretically, for the release of the Iraq Study Group report. Since his old policy was a failure, he proclaimed a “new direction” then ignored most of the ISG recommendations and is trying to give us more of the same.











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