By Meteor Blades
With the "bipartisan" Baker Commission trolling for a solution to the Iraqmire, the White House running a separate review of the situation, and the Pentagon trying to figure out what to do next, one cannot help but wonder whether the main thrust of current American policy in Iraq is launching as many lead balloons as possible before the 110th Congress is sworn in.
Thomas Ricks's piece in today's Washington Post discussing the Pentagon's Iraq policy review provides an amazing read, if you can stop laughing through your tears. There's enough fodder there to get Ricks started on the sequel to Fiasco.
The Pentagon apparently is secretly working on three possible approaches in Iraq, which Ricks says insiders have labeled Go Big, Go Long, Go Home. Short for send more troops, reduce troop levels but stay longer, or withdraw.
Seems as how they've already made up their minds:
The group has devised a hybrid plan that combines part of the first option with the second one -- "Go Long" -- and calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts. Under this mixture of options, which is gaining favor inside the military, the U.S. presence in Iraq, currently about 140,000 troops, would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 for a short period, the officials said.
The purpose of the temporary but notable increase, they said, would be twofold: To do as much as possible to curtail sectarian violence, and also to signal to the Iraqi government and public that the shift to a "Go Long" option that aims to eventually cut the U.S. presence is not a disguised form of withdrawal.
Even so, there is concern that such a radical shift in the U.S. posture in Iraq could further damage the standing of its government, which U.S. officials worry is already shaky. Under the hybrid plan, the short increase in U.S. troop levels would be followed by a long-term plan to radically cut the presence, perhaps to 60,000 troops.
Uh-huh. And how long would these troops remain under what Ricks says one Defense official is calling "Go Big but Short While Transitioning to Go Long"?
Planners envision taking five to 10 more years to create a stable and competent Iraqi army. Because it wouldn't lead to a swift exit, some Democrats could criticize this option as a disguised version of "staying the course."[My emphasis].
Not very well disguised. And guaranteed to do more of what all but the most rigid ideologues or ignoramuses now understand have been key results of U.S. Iraq policy - generating more terrorists and weakening national (and international) security.
Does anybody remember that a year ago this month, the White House released its National Strategy for Victory in Iraq? Key elements of that plan, which the Administration placed in an Appendix and labeled "The Eight Pillars," were: Defeat the Terrorists and Neutralize the Insurgency; Transition Iraq to Security Self-Reliance; Help Iraqis Forge a National Compact for Democratic Government; Help Iraq Build Government Capacity and Provide Essential Services; Help Iraq Strengthen Its Economy; Help Iraq Strengthen the Rule of Law and Promote Civil Rights; Increase International Support for Iraq; Strengthen Public Understanding of Coalition Efforts and Public Isolation of the Insurgents.
Every one of those pillars has been a colossal failure, including what the Pentagon is apparently getting ready to propose - more training of Iraqi troops and police. Five to 10 more years' worth of teaching fighting skills to men with sectarian loyalties. Ye gods. How many of us do they expect to take this seriously?