Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday's Words; Sunday's Words

What a difference a day makes 5 days make, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  Last Tuesday, David Brooks, writing in The New York Times opined that Mr. Bush's "surge" is working, no matter what his critics might say.

"But before long, the more honest among the surge opponents will concede that Bush, that supposed dolt, actually got one right."

That was June 24.

The web site for WTOPnews.com published this on June 29, from an article by Hamze Hindawi, working for the Associated Press: 

RADWANIYAH, Iraq (AP) - Capt. David N. Simms wanted the tribal sheiks to have no doubts _ the $500,000 his unit spends every month to pay and equip local tribesmen to keep peace here will soon run out and they had better be ready when it's gone.

Um...might we think about that a little?  So, while there is some quiet in Baghdad--what with ethnic cleansing of certain residential areas and all--no need for bombs when your sectarian enemies have left--in Radwaniyah, a little less than half way to Falujah, the U.S. Army is spending $500,000 a month to pay and equip "local tribesmen" to keep the peace? 

It turns out that the "surge" is only one small part of the reduction in violence in Iraq.  $500,000 a month buys a lot of cooperation.  And a similar program exists in other areas of Iraq--we are funding the Sons of Iraq; we are equipping the Sons of Iraq (sound familiar?).  Exactly how much peace these programs buy we'll know at the end of the year when the money runs out and some of the Sons of Iraq we've equipped wind up unemployed and armed.

Brooks does not mention one other salient fact about troop levels prior to January 2007.  General Shinseki called for 500,000 (there's that number again) "boots" on the ground prior to the March 2003 invasion.  He was summarily disregarded and ignored.  An Army study of the Iraqi planning, reported at the same web site on June 30, indicated that planning for the occupation called for many more American troops than were provided:

Planners in the Iraq headquarters said 300,000 troops would be needed for the occupation. Even before the invasion, some planners had called for 300,000 troops to be sent for the invasion and occupation.

Immediately after the invasion, the American planners in Iraq, looking ahead to the occupation called for 300,000 troops; even before the invasion, some had called for 300,000 troops--Shinseki supporters, doubtless; no wonder they were ignored.

At some point Brooks will have to ask himself just exactly what did Mr. Bush get right?  A poorly planned and therefore incompetently executed occupation led to a desperate step which only worked, as far as we can determine, because the situation had deteriorated so badly, and whether or not it will ultimately be successful we won't know for many more months.  So Bush orders 30,000 troops into Baghdad.  1/10th of what planners indicated would be needed, almost 4 years too late.

Republican die hards have often said that President Reagan "won" the Cold War.  That completely ignores the context of the beginnings and the middle of the Cold War.  President Truman laid the foundation.  Other presidents engaged the Soviets and contributed to that system's decline.  (And that also ignores Reagan's questionable decision to allow the Beirut Marine barracks bombing to go unpunished!--which was the first major shot in the "war on terror.")

Now Mr. Brooks is touting, albeit timidly, a success for Mr. Bush.  Not yet, Dave.  Best to keep your powder dry for a while longer.

Trust, but verify.


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