November 17th, 2006

Voted for Dean

Iraq War Planning: Beyond Stupid and Into the Realm of Insanity

President Bush, speaking from Vietnam, just said that the lesson he learned for Iraq from the Vietnam War is, and I quote, "We'll succeed unless we quit."


Maybe if he'd gone there 34 years ago when he was supposed to, he'd know better.

Both he and Britain's Prime Minister Blair have met with the Iraq Study Group, and preliminary rumors are leaking out about what they're going to recommend at the end of the month. By comparison with George Bush's stupid remark above, the two rumored suggestions that are being floated as trial balloons make him look like a genius. Nobody could possibly be stupid enough to recommend either of these courses of action. They must be both stupid and insane.

Recommendation 1: A "final push" temporary increase of US troops in Iraq by 20,000. Seriously. That's what they're saying. That if US troop strength in Iraq goes up by about 14%, it will make a serious change in the outcome of the war. Can anybody really be so stupid as to think that 20,000 more troops, spread out over an area of 432,000 square miles, will make any kind of strategic or tactical difference? 1 extra soldier per 20 square miles? That's not a strategy for military victory. It's a desperate grasp for some kind of political victory. It's a vain, ridiculous hope that when they show that an extra 20,000 troops at this late a date, 20,000 not especially combat ready over-stretched troops consisting mostly of National Guard units on their 3rd and 4th tours of duty, weren't enough, that they'll be able to say, "We tried everything we could, it's not our fault that it failed, nobody could have done better." Which puts them in a position even more stupid-looking and even less defensible than then-Lieutenant Kerry's famous question to the Senate as to which of them wanted to ask someone to be the last person to die for a mistake. No, this is a plan to ask several hundred more people to die for a mistake.

Sending in 20,000 more troops into a country the size of Iraq, a country with a population of 27 million where nearly every adult male owns an AK-47 or AK-74 and by now half of them are members of one or more militia or insurgent or terrorist groups, isn't a military plan. It's a religious one, and the religious belief in question is "human sacrifice." It's a plan to shovel several hundred more teenagers and 20-somethings into the flaming belly of Moloch in hope of a magical miracle victory. It's mentally, militarily, psychologically, and morally indefensible.

Look, winning the war in Iraq is not entirely off of the table. If the American people really wanted to, we could win. But it wouldn't involve sending in 20,000 more troops. It would involve sending in 300,000 to 500,000 more, just to start getting serious about it. And it would involve the American people being so determined to win that the sight of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians would inspire no horror in us. It would require that GM, Ford, and Chrysler convert their plants from building cars nobody wants to buy to building M1 tanks and Abrams infantry vehicles and even the much-mocked, now suddenly useful Crusader next-generation artillery unit; it would require Boeing to stop making airliners and devote that entire workforce to making Predator drones and Hellfire missiles; it would require factories all over the country to convert over to making assault rifles and ammunition and bombs. When we have enough manpower and hardware in Iraq to fight the second battle of Fallujah in half a dozen or a dozen cities at once, then we can talk about winning the war in Iraq.

It would require a propaganda campaign about the evils of Islamic radicalism on at least the scale of the one that Bush's father used to sell us the Gulf War, and at least as successful. Show me video of dead babies on the bayonets of Baathist rebels, and show me bin Laden gloating over Sudanese Christian women and children being raped to death in Darfur, and maybe then we can get the vast numbers of 18 to 30 year olds we'd need to be eagerly and enthusiastically and voluntarily swarming the recruiting offices hoping to "give those dirty Islamic bastards what they deserve," and then we can talk about winning in Iraq. Because until you show me that, any serious prospect of defeating (just to pick one) the Badr Brigade is off the table. When the American people are so angry at the Badr Brigade that we don't care if we have to shell and bomb the most crowded neighborhood in Baghdad to rubble, women and children and all, to get them, and feel angry enough to place all of the blame for the civilian deaths on them for basing themselves there, then we'll know that we're serious about winning in Iraq.

We'd better be prepared for Pakistan to go up in flames, and al Qaeda to win there and get control over Pakistan's bomb, and we'd better want victory in Iraq badly enough to fight for it even knowing that American troops will almost certainly be nuked at least once during that war. And we'd better be still in favor of all of this when our $4 or $6 or $10 a gallon gasoline is rationed for the war effort because of renewed OPEC economic sanctions. And then, if we're willing to be in it for the long haul as a nation, then we might win on the battlefield. And if we do win on the battlefield and then station as many troops in the wreckage of Iraq (and wherever else the fighting spreads to before the end) as we did in Germany after 1945, for an entire generation, and we show the same generosity in feeding the survivors and rebuilding their bombed and shelled to rubble cities that we showed the Germans, then maybe we can win against Islamic radicalism by fighting in Iraq.

Anything less than that is just shoveling American soldiers' bodies while still alive into the flaming belly of Moloch. Nothing else is serious. And the time to have been talking about these things is not now, but three years ago.

Suggestion #2: Involve Syria and Iran in the security situation in Iraq. And offer them what? Or threaten them with what? More importantly, why on earth would anybody think it was in the US's best interest to turn Iraq's security over to two of the top three countries who fund Hezbollah terror attacks against Israel?

Frankly, if what we want to do with Iraq is hand it over to Hezbollah to convert into yet another state sponsor of terrorism, we don't need Iran or Syria's help. We're doing that just fine without them.
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