More Troops - Or Else
Author: Samuel Metz
More soldiers to Iraq: Is
this a great plan or what?
George W. Bush has finally
presented a plan in Iraq that includes both a deadline and
consequences: The deadline: January 20, 2009 -The Iraqi
government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki absolutely
must not collapse before that date. The consequences: If
it threatens to do so, the Bush administration will send
While President Bush did not
specify the date, when he officially leaves office, as a
deadline, it was implicit. Also not mentioned was his
threat to send in more troops if the current infusion of
21,000 new American soldiers does not prevent Iraq from
imploding during his administration. But the subtext is
What does President Bush hope
to achieve with these new troops sent to Iraq? His plan
gives us a clue.
If his highest priority is
the creation of a stable, self-sustaining, unified, and
viable Iraqi nation, 21,000 troops is too few; at least
100,000 troops too few. Former Army Chief of Staff General
Eric Shinseki estimated before the Iraq invasion that
several hundred thousand more troops needed to be added.
Senator John McCain now proposes at least 100,000 more.
General Anthony Zinni, former senior American military
commander in Iraqi, agrees. Of the few US leaders who
believe the US can create a stable Iraq, none concur that
21,000 troops will produce this result.
If his highest priority is to
reduce American casualties in a war that we cannot
control, sending another handful of troops into battle
goes in the other direction.
If his highest priority is to
send a message to Prime Minister al-Maliki to reign in the
Shi'ite militias, that is not necessarily what al-Maliki
might understand. Are the troops punishment for his
failure to achieve stability, or a reward? What if
al-Maliki fails to stabilize his country? Will our
President send it another 21,000 troops? That would really
teach the Prime Minister a lesson.
There is little reason to
believe that al-Maliki has the power to create a stable
Iraq when he has failed to do so thus far and when the
destabilizing militias are out of his control. As he has a
vested interest in keeping American troops in his country
as long as possible to keep his position as leader viable
as long as possible, President Bush's added troops
encourage him to promote instability. If the current
violence generated 21,000 more troops, how many more
troops will be sent with additional violence?
What, then, does President
Bush achieve with these troops?
These troops are not enough
to stabilize Iraq. They are probably not enough to
stabilize the city of Bagdad. However, they are barely
enough to prevent the collapse of the al-Maliki government
and thereby stabilize the remaining years of President
The presence of the al-Maliki
government is the only public indication that the Iraqi
invasion of 2003 was not a complete catastrophe. Avoiding
a public admission that this venture was a mistake from
the start is absolutely President Bush's highest priority.
So what can we expect next
from our President?
He will continue his version
of the Rumsfeld Doctrine, as presented by the columnist
Thomas Friedman: Just enough troops to fail; not enough
troops to win. The Bush version is more specific: Just
enough troops to prevent an Iraqi collapse during my
administration; not enough troops to generate public
opposition from Congressional members of my own party.
And at least, President Bush
has created a plan for Iraq that can succeed.