Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Surge Ditto

[posted by Callimachus]

This seems to me to get it about right:

Many of us were skeptical of a surge/bump/increase for an obvious reason: Our military problems in Iraq have been tactical and strategic (too-slow training too few Iraqis, arrest/release of terrorists, too many targets off limits, patrolling in lieu of attacking, worry over our own force protection rather than securing the safety of Iraqi citizens, open borders with Syria and Iran, etc.) — and not a shortage of manpower.

So the increase — no one knows whether the 20,000 number is adequate — could make things far worse by offering more targets and creating more Iraqi dependency if we don’t change our operations. But if the surge ups the ante by bringing a radical new approach on the battlefield as the president promises, then it is worth his gamble.

All the requisite points were made by the president, almost as if were quoting verbatim Gen. David Petraeus’s insightful summaries of counterinsurgency warfare — an Iraqi face on operations, economic stimuli, clear mission of clearing terrorists out of Baghdad, political reform, a “green-light” to go after killers — while addressing the necessary regional concerns with Syria and Iran.

He also gives the proper label to the opposition movement, which is not cut-and-run, but something calculating, not cowardly: It's a "See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya” Iraq policy.

[To save trouble by being pre-emptive, as the Deciderator has taught all his minions to be, I'll say, "No I am not planning to enlist in the surge. If you're so hot for peace, are you joining the Peace Corps?"]

But I'm not persuaded that the "if" that rescues the surge idea is really coming, just because Bush seems to have said it is. It's the right "if." But I've heard Bush say the right things, then fail to do them, too often to think this one will be different.

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