The New Bush Iraq Strategy: A Recipe For Protacting Failure

John, over at A Lie A Day, says that the George Bush’s latest attempt to prolong the war in Iraq is “Nixonian.” He’s right, even though Nixon’s tactic was a seven-year long series of troop reductions, rather than Bush’s “troop surge.” Though opposite in tactic, they are identical in strategy: stall, and try to think of something that might work.

Nixon loved to talk about “secret timetables” for troop withdrawal and “five point peace plans”, but it wasn’t until 58,226 Americans, thousands of Allied troops, and over one million Vietnamese were dead that the troops came home. When it was clear that he couldn’t stall any more. When it was clear that he didn’t have a plan, five point or otherwise.

Bush has never had a plan beyond overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Every few months, he comes up with a new Iraqization strategy for victory, and each one fails. The White House website has one from November 30, 2005, which defends the strategies back to 2003. It’s called “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.” Among the strategies it laid out:

“Carrying out a campaign to defeat the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency, developing Iraqi security forces, and helping the Iraqi government.

“Clear areas of enemy control by remaining on the offensive, killing and capturing enemy fighters and denying them safe-haven;

“Hold areas freed from enemy influence by ensuring that they remain under the control of the Iraqi government with an adequate Iraqi security force presence; and

“Build Iraqi Security Forces and the capacity of local institutions to deliver services, advance the rule of law, and nurture civil society. “

Guess that didn’t go so well.

What will be different this time? Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina’s own Bush press flack, says: “We’ve got a new team on the ground. We’re going to come up with a new strategy. The strategy is going to be designed to win.”

But as George F. Will points out in the Boston Herald, “Based on experience in the Balkans, an assumption among experts is that to maintain order in a context of sectarian strife requires one competent soldier or police officer for every 50 people. For the Baghdad metropolitan area (population: 6.5 million), that means 130,000 security personnel. There are 120,000 now, but 66,000 of them are Iraqi police, many – perhaps most – of whom are worse than incompetent. Because their allegiances are to sectarian factions, they are not responsive to legitimate central authority. They are part of the problem. Therefore even a substantial surge of, say, 30,000 U.S. forces would leave Baghdad that many short, and could be a recipe for protracting failure.”

Can anybody flash me a “V”?

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