7 years ago
The talking points of Bush’s plan have been leaked to the press. The Guardian is reporting the story:
President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make “a last big push” to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration’s internal deliberations.
Mr Bush’s refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said.
Although the panel’s work is not complete, its recommendations are expected to be built around a four-point “victory strategy” developed by Pentagon officials advising the group. The strategy, along with other related proposals, is being circulated in draft form and has been discussed in separate closed sessions with Mr Baker and the vice-president Dick Cheney, an Iraq war hawk.
Point one of the strategy calls for an increase rather than a decrease in overall US force levels inside Iraq, possibly by as many as 20,000 soldiers. This figure is far fewer than that called for by the Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain. But by raising troop levels, Mr Bush will draw a line in the sand and defy Democratic pressure for a swift drawdown.
The reinforcements will be used to secure Baghdad, scene of the worst sectarian and insurgent violence, and enable redeployments of US, coalition and Iraqi forces elsewhere in the country.
Point two of the plan stresses the importance of regional cooperation to the successful rehabilitation of Iraq. This could involve the convening of an international conference of neighbouring countries or more direct diplomatic, financial and economic involvement of US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
“The extent to which that [regional cooperation] will include talking to Iran and Syria is still up for debate …
Point three focuses on reviving the national reconciliation process between Shia, Sunni and other ethnic and religious parties. According to the sources, creating a credible political framework will be portrayed as crucial in persuading Iraqis and neighbouring countries alike that Iraq can become a fully functional state …
Lastly, the sources said the study group recommendations will include a call for increased resources to be allocated by Congress to support additional troop deployments and fund the training and equipment of expanded Iraqi army and police forces. It will also stress the need to counter corruption, improve local government and curtail the power of religious courts.
Let us at TCJ be the first out of the gate to say that this plan will fail.
First, 20,000 more troops is not nearly enough. We need 220,000.
Second, talks with Syria and Iran will only embolden these two countries, with Iran being the most worrisome. At at time when the U.S. should be working hard to set boundary conditions and stipulations for Iran’s behavior in the Middle East, to talk with them would undercut the U.S. position to the point that warnings will lose all force and the U.S. will lose all respect.
Third – and this point also addresses Abizaid’s testimony today before the Senate in which he said that more embedded U.S. troops with the Iraqi army and police would hasten turnover – we are still refusing to face the socio-religious landscape in Iraq. The history of Shi’a-Sunni relations is almost as old as Islam, and just as violent. This factious warring is getting worse, not better. Ilan Berman, vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, states that “We have a ringside seat not only to radical Islam’s war with us, but to what’s really emerging as a civil war between radical Sunni Islam and radical Shia Islam.” There is no lack of ability to police or wage war among either the Sunni or Shia. The problem is not one of incompetence. It is one of religious war.
Fourth, more money would have helped two years ago and with a stable Iraq.