Posted by Curt on 16 November, 2006 at 9:44 am. Be the first to comment!

William J. Stuntz at The Weekly Standard makes a very compelling argument this week to raise the level of troops in Iraq:

[…]For one thing, willingness to raise the stakes often wins the game. Why do insurgent gangs, who have vastly smaller resources and manpower than the American soldiers they fight, continue to try to kill those soldiers? The answer is, because they believe they only have to kill a few more, and the soldiers will leave. They need not inflict a military defeat (which would be impossible, given the strength of the American military)–all they need to do is survive until American voters decide to throw in the towel, which might happen at any moment.

The proper response to that calculation is to make emphatically clear that the fight will not end until one side or the other wins, decisively. That kind of battle can only have one ending, as Abraham Lincoln understood. In a speech delivered a month after his reelection, Lincoln carefully surveyed the North’s resources and manpower and concluded that the nation’s wealth was “unexhausted and, as we believe, inexhaustible.” Southern soldiers be gan to desert in droves. Through the long, bloody summer and fall of 1864, the South had hung on only because of the belief that the North might tire of the conflict. But Lincoln did not tire. Instead, he doubled the bet–and won the war.

[…]Consider these data: Between November 2004 and February 2005, according to the Brookings Institution’s Iraq Index, the number of coalition soldiers in Iraq rose by 18,000. In that time, the number of Iraqi civilians killed fell by two-thirds, and the number of American troops wounded fell by three-fourths. The soldiers were soon pulled out; by the summer of 2005, American and Iraqi casualties rose again. Later that year, the same thing happened again. Between September and November of 2005, another 23,000 soldiers were deployed in Iraq; once again, both Iraqi and American casualties fell. In the early months of 2006, the number of soldiers fell again, and casualties spiraled up.

The picture is clear: More soldiers mean less violence, hence fewer casualties. The larger the manpower investment in the war, the smaller the war’s cost, to Iraqis and Americans alike. Iraq is not an unwinnable war: Rather, as the data just cited show, it is a war we have chosen not to win. And the difference between success and failure is not 300,000 more soldiers, as some would have it. One-tenth that number would make a large difference, and has done so in the past. One-sixth would likely prove decisive.

It appears Bush may be listening:

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.

I find it funny anyone in their right mind believed Bush was just another politician who was going to go along with the polls and admit defeat. This will never happen while he is in office.

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.

[…]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.

All good steps at drawing a line in the sand. Telling the cut and run party that he will not run. We started this and we must be the ones to finish this. And in typical Bush fashion he has done something unexpected, at least unexpected to the left, which is to force the Baker team to consider a strategy for victory rather then a strategy for defeat. Big Lizards notices the same thing:

There is this possibility, raised by the Guardian: maybe the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group was all set to say “let’s declare defeat and go home.” But maybe after Monday’s talk with President Bush, they realized — as Big Lizards suggested — that if the commander in chief were adamant about not quitting, but the ISG made that their primary recommendation, they would be dismissed out of hand like insolent lackeys.

Rather than be humiliated like that (this theory goes), they are rewriting their conclusions and recommendations to something that is acceptable to the administration. That way, their advice might be heeded, and they look like they actually matter.

If this is what happened, it’s a marvelous illustration of the power of a willful president for whom defeat is not an option. That is far more in keeping with Bush’s previous history anent the Iraq and Afghanistan battles and the larger GWOT itself, than the silly suggestions from some quarters that Bush was about to quit, withdraw, and hand Iraq over to the tender mercies of Iran and Syria.

I am always amazed at how the left AND the right underestimate Bush, and I am always laughing when they are all in shock after they get cut off at the pass.

The next paragraph is not surprising coming from the Guardian:

To the certain dismay of US neo-cons, initial post-invasion ideas about imposing fully-fledged western democratic standards will be set aside. And the report is expected to warn that de facto tripartite partition within a loose federal system, as advocated by Democratic senator Joe Biden and others would lead not to peaceful power-sharing but a large-scale humanitarian crisis.

Please point to me one point in that plan that states Bush is going to abandon Democracy in Iraq. It won’t happen. Will the Iraqi’s adjust and adapt, as we have, of course. But I just do not see Bush abandoning that principal. The lefties would love it tho, because then they could point to Bush and say “see, he admits he was wrong”….their holy grail.


Of course we get all the shrill cries from the left about it not working, and even cries from the defeatist conservatives such as Rick Moran at Rightwing Nuthouse, Tom Moran at JustOneMinute, and the always pessimistic Allah at Hot Air. I shake my head in wonder at these people and wonder what they would have written about in 1943 and 1944. “It’s all doomed”, “they all screwed it up”, “I knew better then everyone else”.

We have a bunch of Neville Chamberlain’s and not enough Winston Churchhill’s in this argument. Churchill understood you could not negotiate with evil. You cannot negotiate with those who wish to make you submit or die as the terrorists inside Iraq are doing.

We can win, we must win. Defeat is not an option people…….get a friggin grip.

Some on the right are suggesting that 20,000 is not enough but Wrtechard at The Belmont Club believes the number would help on mutiple fronts:

However the other factor which has not been explicitly considered is that a new war in Lebanon is widely expected. The Lebanon theater actually represents a second front against Iran because it must support its client, Hezbollah against the considerable pressure of the IDF. While a war is in progress in southern Lebanon Iran will actually be fighting on two fronts. Hence an increase of 20,000 men plus an outbreak in Lebanon may actually strain the Iranians. Moreover it introduces volatility into the strategic situation. If America is strategically liberated from being confined to limited objectives vis a vis Iran, then there is no reason that only 20 K can be added to the fight. The bottom line is that the modest increase described by the Guardian is unlikely to make a difference of itself. But any changes in the overall situation in the coming months could alter the picture entirely. We shall see.

Meanwhile Gen. Abizaid is recommending that we assign more advisors to smaller Iraqi units:

Under the immediate initiative that General Abizaid described, the number of American military advisers working with Iraqi forces will be increased, with advisers to be assigned even to small Iraqi units with fewer than 200 soldiers.

“We need to put more American capacity into Iraqi units to make them more capable in their ability to confront the sectarian problem,” General Abizaid told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It is possible that we might have to go up in troop levels in order to increase the number of forces that go into the Iraqi security forces, but I believe that’s only temporary.”

He also stated during testimony to the Senate and House Armed Services Committee that we have about six months to contain the violence before it gets so far out of control that the Iraqi army could not handle it.

Some of the more important missions that we need to help the Iraqi government with, according to the General, was helping them dismantle Sadr’s army….and that’s a biggie.

Securing Baghdad, the general said, was the main effort. But there are another difficult missions ahead, he said. One is supporting an Iraqi-led effort to disarm the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia nominally loyal to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

A very important goal and one that we must win. The Sunni insurgency all lead back to this guy and his little army. Defeat him and we take a big step forward.

Finally, the best exchange during the General’s testimony was this exchange between the General and Hillary Clinton:

“We don’t have a military force that is creating a secure environment,” said Clinton, peering through her reading glasses at Abizaid. “Hope is not a strategy,” she added.

Abizaid counterattacked, saying the military has never “misled” about Iraq.

“With regard to hope not being a method, Senator, I agree with you, and I would also say that despair is not a method,” he said. “When I come to Washington, I feel despair. When I’m in Iraq with my commanders, when I talk to our soldiers, when I talk to the Iraqi leadership, they are not despairing.”

Exactly! This is the kind of despair that led us to abandon millions of Vietnamese to a terrible death. This is the kind of despair that has no place whatsoever in discussing victory against an enemy. But you can see the difference between those who know we MUST win and those who want peace. We all want peace, but peace at what price? The only peace we need to talk about is the peace that comes after we are successful in Iraq.

Other’s Blogging:


We have a bunch of Neville Chamberlain’s and not enough Winston Churchhill’s in this argument. Churchill understood you could not negotiate with evil. You cannot negotiate with those who wish to make you submit or die as the terrorists inside Iraq are doing.

We can win, we must win. Defeat is not an option people…….get a friggin grip.