Those congressmen who accepted the "surge" and the media who supported it were sold a bill of goods. One of the top U.S. commanders in Iraq admits it.
According to the New York Times, Lt. Gen Raymond Odierno, "the day-to-day commander of U.S. forces in Iraq has recommended that the heightened American troop levels there be maintained through February 2008."
That's if the "surge" is to have any chance of success: bring material benefits to the people of Baghdad, give them a sense of calm and security, put a damper on the civil war and allow Iraqi political leaders a chance to somehow patch thier country together.
Otherwise, the Times article makes clear, the consensus in the Pentagon is that the buildup will fail. Indeed, the surge to date is "little more than a trickle" and will only reach its goal of an additional 28,000 troops on the ground by June. Yet, under previously-announced plans, troops were supposed to be withdrawing from Iraq already by September 2007.
According to many experts, even maintaining troop levels through next February is far from enough. An unclassified version of the latest National Intelligence Estimate states that "the Iraqi Security Forces, particularly the Iraqi police, will be hard pressed in the next 12 to 18 months to execute significantly increased security responsibilities, and particularly to operate independently against Shia militias with success."
So--the question which has to be asked--and answered.
1. Are we really to believe that General Odierno and his bosses-General David Petraeus, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the gang in the White House--that they just discovered that the surge, as sold to congress and the media, would not work? That the build up by a U.S. military already stretched to the breaking point would have to continue many months longer than indicated?
The answer to that question is a no-winner. If the generals didn't realize just a few months ago that the concept of a limited surge as presented to the public was a farce, they were woefully ignorant of the situation in Iraq and should have never been given command. If they did lie--for that's what we're talking about--then they should lose their jobs.
The obvious White House strategy was this: Let's at least get this surge thing rolling. Once underway, we simply oblige our weak-kneed congress to up the ante. If not, we accuse them of refusing to support our boys on the ground.
We win the 2008 elections with that. ( As Tom Englehardt among others has so clearly pointed out)
Indeed, the administration has already been able to increase the build up from 21,000 to 28,000.
2. The administration has never been obliged to specify how long the buildup would continue. When recently asked that question, for instance, General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs blandly told Pentagon reporters: "We're looking, as we should, at each of the three possibilities: hold what you have, come down, or plus up if you need to,"
C'mon guys. Your generals on the ground have already told you the current policy is doomed. It's truth time. It's also time for everyone trying to avoid that issue--in congress and the median not to mention most of the herd running for president--to pull their heads out of the sand.
Do the folks in the Pentagon or anyone really believe that the U.S. public and Congress will support higher troop levels well into an election year? So what's the point of the whole exercise? Sending more American troops, not to mention thousands of Iraqis, to death and dismemberment, pouring hundreds of billions more dollars down the Iraqi drain.
And to what end?
To maintain a charade that will ultimately allow George W. Bush and the Republicans to blame a lilly-livered Democratic congress and/or the next occupant of the White House for America's "defeat" in Iraq.