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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

'Cut and Run' or 'Stand and Bleed?'

The great crime of our current Iraq strategy is that the President is letting domestic politics dictate his policy. After running for reelection on his resoluteness to "finish the job," and then further using the Iraq war as a political weapon against the Dems throughout 2005, and now in defense in 2006, President Bush has painted himself into a political corner on troop withdrawals.

The "declare victory and go home" withdrawal option has also been taken away by events in Iraq. With the security situation at best stable, and more likely deteriorating, there is no discernible "victory" to be had in Iraq in the near term, despite all the signage last November and March. So, even though we may see cosmetic changes in numbers, restaffing, lowering non-combat MOS, there's really no credible way he can bring the troops home and call it a victory.

On the other hand, a possible change in the other direction would be to massively raise troop levels in the short term to the 350,000 to 400,000 level that sane analysts said would be required before the war, assuming you can find the combat ready troops. This sort of heavy reaction could temporarily stabilize Iraq, buying the Maliki government six months and offering them a more stable situation in which to take control.

This option is also limited by politics in a very similar manner to Rumsfeld's apparent permanent job security. In order to surge troops into Iraq, the President would be forced to admit that the current strategy isn't working and answer questions of why higher troop levels weren't put in place earlier.

So, politically hemmed in on the withdrawal side and politically hemmed in on the escalation side, the Bush administration has chosen the middle strategy, to stand and bleed.

Only they're not the ones bleeding.

UPDATE: (From Thursday's NYTimes) "But people who attended a series of high-level meetings this month between White House and Congressional officials say President Bush's aides argued that it could be a politically fatal mistake for Republicans to walk away from the war in an election year."


  • I just want to say that I'm a strong proponent of a timetable for phased withdrawal from the battlefield, concentrating troops back into the trouble areas to stabilize them before turning them over to the Iraqis with Anbar and Baghdad last on the list ending with temporary "permanent" bases from which US troops could aid the Iraqis if they got in trouble or needed help in a particular area.

    Personally, I think that a mass escalation at this point would cause more anti-American sentiment, but at the same time, at least it's a plan. It could allow some stability in which quick recontruction projects could take place. And if the Iraqi government were able to turn the power back on, or the water, it cold drastically change their relationship with the people of Iraq.

    My gut feeling is that such an escalation would cause more problems than it would solve, but at least it's a plan.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 6:01 PM  

  • Nice stuff Mike. I think we should set a time and leave. The whole argument about the terrorists will just wait it out is silly. If we say we are going to be out in a year and the terrorists just wait a year, I hope to god we can get the IRaqis up to speed in that time. What is basic training here, like six weeks?

    Also, like you said, we need to make sure there are no bases left in Iraq. I really don't see that happening though

    By Blogger GraemeAnfinson, at 11:25 PM  

  • How about Stop and Think, or Regroup and Redeploy.

    Make no mistake, we are where we are in Iraq for one reason alone: Because of the political ambitions and maneuvering of certain American politicians. Because of this, these so-called leaders are unable to either move forward or backward... nor in any direction except the undirected stasis of "stay the course." Whatever the hell that means.

    By Blogger -epm, at 6:38 AM  

  • Graeme, I think the basic idea that the terrorists will "wait" is flawed. If the terrorists stop the attacks, their support will wane as they drift from the public eye. Then, when they start up again I don't think the support would be as strong.

    Not an expert, but Standard US basic is 6 to ten weeks usually followed by at least a month of specialist training, but, I don't think it's unrealistic that we could train groups of Iraqi infantry in 6 weeks or less.

    EPM, that's exactly what I was trying to say. The politics have created a situation where any change from "stay the course" would damage Bush, and the Republican congress is hemmed into supporting him. All of the inertia is towards more of the same.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 7:48 AM  

  • If the Dems don't win in November... no, let me rephrase that. If the Republicans are not removed as the majority party in November '06 we will, I believe, reach a tipping point of irreparable damage to the American State, both domestically and in the international community.

    For too long the current Republican power base has relied on America's historic moral integrity as a shield while they pursue arrogant and amoral (immoral?) imperialist policies abroad, and repressive, draconian policies at home. The shield of our once-greatness is wearing thinner and thinner by the day. And what happens when that shield is gone?

    By Blogger -epm, at 12:39 PM  

  • YES!!!!!!!

    That's the whole point of the blog. In this time of global readjustment as the US tires and loses hyperhegemon status, poor leadership, at this point specifically, will lead to huge repurcussions down the line.

    And, this group we have in charge is uniquely poor leadership.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 1:02 PM  

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