Il Duce is planning to
plead tell us all that his “surge” of 20,000 troops in Iraq will help stabilize the nation so we’ll be able to hand off control to Iraqi forces.
Apart from the fact that he’s dead wrong about the numbers — off by an order of magnitude — we’ve seen this song and dance before. Remember “stand up/stand down”?
In 2003, former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki was fired for having the temerity to tell the Textard’s buddy Rummy that something on the order of 200,000 to 300,000 soldiers would be required to create a genuinely effective operating force in Iraq.
“The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. General Shinseki gave his estimate in response to a question at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday: “I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point — something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers — are probably, you know, a figure that would be required.”
On what did Rummy base his estimates? On absolutely nothing. Rumsfeld, a career civilian, was in no position whatsoever to advise the military on any of its functions; and, having been around during Viet Nam (but conspicuously absent from the theater of operatons), he really has no excuse for his spectacular willingness to ignore the history of ill-conceived wars against nebulous, spooky enemies.
On what had Shinseki based his estimates? Military history, and a hell of a lot of it.
Who won that battle? A lifetime soldier, a patriot, a man willing to speak plainly to power? Or was it instead a doddering, irrelevant old man?
Il Duce was fond of saying for a while that the “war on terror” is like no other war in history — and that’s simply not true. The “cold war” that got hot by proxy in places such as Southeast Asia has some distinct parallels, and it’s only the obstinate stupidity of the Textard and his cronies that led the foolish, intellectually-lazy Bush boosters down the road to damnation.
But then, here’s the kind of value Il Duce places on history.
“I think we agree, the past is over.”
With that depth of insight, it’s no wonder we’re where we are.
Bush has had it consistently wrong since 2003, and he’s wrong again this time. 20,000 troops is off by a factor of ten, at least; we need 200,000 or more to truly rescue Iraq from the hell we placed it in. Post-WWII Japan had a US occupying force of 450,000; that occupation persisted for 17 years in a nation that had very little hostility left to pour on US soldiers.
We have only a third or so of that number in Iraq now — and we’re facing not an isolated, completely exhausted enemy, but a continuously-renewed multi-front danger that has more in common with a hydra than anything else. And the total number of US troops available to be deployed worldwide is not a whole lot more than the number that occupied Japan — around 500,000 soldiers on active duty as of 2004. This is close to the authorized maximum of 512,000, and doesn’t include the Army Reserve or National Guard, neither of which should be deployed in Iraq; one is reserved for extreme emergency — which an elective war absolutely is not — and the other is crucial for domestic defense.*
As I wrote back in November, we can’t reinstitute a draft, and we’re going to be hard pressed to summon the troops we need to really have a successful occupation of Iraq — particularly in light of the problems going on in the Sudan, Iran and North Korea. What that means is we have to apologize to the world that we pissed off and ask for the assistance of our allies in shoring up our numbers; not just for our own security, but for that of the planet we all have the frequent exasperation of sharing.
This means an end to the right-wingers’ dream of unilateralism (which is really bigotry in disguise, but that’s a topic for another post); we’re going to have to make nice to the UN once more, and engage in diplomacy for a while.
This also means the Dems will have to sprout spines pretty quickly, because there is no way anyone from the Republican side of the aisle is going to force the White House — or Washington — or the nation — to face reality.
* Such as helping out with the aftermath of, oh I don’t know, a hurricane maybe.
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