2006 November 15 Wednesday
Bush Last Try In Iraq With 20,000 More Troops?

Lame duck failed President George W. Bush wants to make one more try to turn the Iraqis back from escalating violence.

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.

What is the point of this Last Hurrah? The Iraqis have already chosen to put their loyalties in their own sects, tribes, and families rather than in the national government. The national government itself has become a tool for Shia dominance and at the highest level it supports the Shia militias. It might as well. If the Shia militias became even more capable at some point the Sunnis would begin to see that they have no chance to win. Only then might they become willing to negotiate rather than fight.

On C-SPAN (hurray for Brian Lamb for founding it!) I was watching General Abizaid get questioned by the US Senate Armed Services Committee. Hillary Clinton sounded sympathetic to Abizaid's argument that we shouldn't start drawing down troops. Though Hillary said the sides will keep fighting as long as they think they can win a better position. I say that belief is going to continue for a long time unless one side thoroughly crushes the other side. A withdrawal of US forces might even allow the Shias to crush the Sunnis faster and therefore end the civil war sooner.

Abizaid said if the government does not reign in the militias then he'll be discouraged about the prospects. Well, unless the Shia-dominated military becomes powerful enough to take on the Sunni fighters the Shia-dominated government will continue to let the militias kill Sunnis - both fighters and those Sunnis who are not involved.

The US Senator who seemed most connected to reality as I understand it was Democratic Senator from Indiana Evan Bayh. The guy asked:

"Do they have it in them to forge one country with a common destiny or is that beyond their capabilities?

That's a politically incorrect question to ask and it comes from a Senate Democrat no less.. Beyond their capabilities? Yes, obviously that'st true. What our leaders in Washington DC keep hoping for from the Iraqis really is beyond their capabilities. General Abizaid disagreed. But he's wrong.

Bayh is quite critical of the Iraqis.

I mean, they say the right things. But when the going gets tough and they have to make the hard decisions, they sort of retreat into their corner and they’re just not able to find that common ground."

This willingness to be critical of the Iraqis is what has been missing from the Democrats. They don't want to take positions that Bush would respond to by painting them as racists. They do not want to admit that the liberalism has less than universal appeal around the world. The future of the world is not a liberal manifest destiny. But the unwillingness of people on the Left to be honest about human nature has left the Democrats unable to articulate accurate criticisms of the Bush war in Iraq.

The Shia militias can't be brought around to negotiations. As Moqtada al Sadr gets more coopted into the Iraqi government more of his fighters decide to ignore him and fight.

For years an angry outsider, Mr. Sadr, 33, has moved deep into the inner sanctum of the Iraqi government largely because his followers make up the biggest and most volatile Shiite militia. Now, after more than a year in power, he and his top lieutenants are firmly part of the establishment, a position that has brought new comfort and wealth. That change has shifted the threat for the American military, which no longer faces mass uprisings by Mr. Sadr’s fighters when it enters their turf.

But the taming of Mr. Sadr has produced a paradox: the more settled he becomes in the establishment, the looser his grip is over his fighters on the streets and those increasingly infiltrating the security forces. In the two years since they fought against American tanks at Mr. Sadr’s command, many have broken away from the confines of compromise that bind him, and have taken a far more active role in killing, something his supporters say worries him. He says he is trying to weed them out — 40 were publicly dismissed last month.

The increasing violence of some of his followers mirrors the overall unraveling of Iraq, which has become less centrally controlled and far more criminal since the American invasion in 2003. The situation is one of the highest priorities for the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress in the United States.

We could try pulling all the US troops out of Baghdad so that the Sunnis and Shias can have it out. The Sunnis have to become willing to accept subservient minority status. Or they have to come to accept that since they can't rule and find subservience unacceptable that partition is their best bet for rule of Sunnis by Sunnis. Right now they are in denial.

Update: Greg Cochran says Bush's 'last big push" in Iraq is going to fail.

It looks as if Bush is plumping for a ' last big push' in Iraq, a last try: sounds if they're planning to inject another 20k troops, I guess in Baghdad.

It won't work. You can take that to the bank. Since it is the last try, since everybody _knows_ it is the last try, the local contenders can and will wait it out - since it is a try at imposing order in a country where the state no longer exists at all, a country whose language we do not speak and whose inhabitants most American soldiers come to view with contempt after long exposure, since 20 k troops is way too few to make much of a difference in this kind of effort, failure is certain. . What it _will_ do is blow another hundred billion dollars and get another thousand or so Americans soldiers killed.

Invading Antarctica would have so much more sense. It's not too late!

The good thing about the last big push is that its failure will leave the war camp discredited. We can soon move beyond pretending there's any chance of turning Iraq into a liberal democracy. The Shias and Sunnis aren't going to stop fighting over who gets to rule just because American troops are patrolling some of their neighborhoods. Bush's Iraq policy is going to go through its final discrediting in the next 6 months. The ranks of the defenders of a continued US presence in Iraq will shrink on both sides of the political aisle.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 November 15 10:08 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate

Tony said at November 17, 2006 3:44 PM:

I agree with the discourse. Of course another 20k troops will only make things worse and letting them fight it out is probably the only way to bring some form of stability. A sense of exasperation with the Iraqis is evident everywhere. Missing however is any sense that the US and its stooges have caused this whole shambles by invading a country that, however awful from our perspective, was a sovereign nation.

Chris M said at November 17, 2006 4:21 PM:

McCain also wants more troops:


It's nice that there will be a 'new' Republican candidate in '08.

Invade, Invite, In hock will live on!

Stephen said at November 17, 2006 8:22 PM:

It going to be interesting to watch George over the next couple of years. His view of the world is destroyed, his self-validating cronies are leaving, he's on the losing side of his self-declared war against the axis of evil, his ego must be battered down to nothing, people are starting to say no to him and he'll have a growing awareness that his presidential legacy will be a joke for generations to come.

My guess is that we're going to see a nervous breakdown with sudden, hair trigger outbursts of anger and/or he'll dive into the bottle.

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