Friday, January 12, 2007

A Band-Aid for Iraq?

In short, no, again via Instapundit, which is the only blog I get a chance to read pretty much every day now.

No, but as usual, opponents of an Iraq strategy that involves making an actual positive difference in the Middle East (and, always, importantly, in our own position and security therewith, or else we would be irresponsible as a nation to undertake it) focus on the one factoid they appear able to comprehend, or at any rate willing to sound off about: 21,500 troops. What they - the forces of both troop reduction and troop increase - consistently fail to talk about, and have failed to talk about all along with regard to their own competing proposals (such as they've been), is what to do with the troops. For over a year I've been listening to and growing increasingly frustrated with demands that we send "more troops" (sometimes with a number attached) or that we "bring the troops home," either precipitously or gradually - with no discussion of tactical change, when a change in troop strength, up or down, clearly implies a change in tactics.

But we do indeed have a change in tactics. 21,500 more troops (which, I heard pointed out by a Republican Senator whose name I missed on NPR yesterday, still leaves the total number of coalition troops in Iraq at a level below that total last year at this time), primarily deployed in Baghdad, where current troop strength is just 13,000. An almost 150% increase in troops, in the area that most needs them, since anyone paying attention is aware that the vast majority of Iraq is already stable, with Baghdad the primary hotspot. Does that sound better than "a niggling 21,500 added to the 140,000 already there"? Furthermore, a concomitant change in the rules of engagement: the Shi'ite militias are now an explicit target, a monopoly on the use of armed force by the duly elected Iraqi government an explicit goal. And still furthermore, a commitment from that same duly elected Iraqi government to bury the militias, in spite of sympathy to them at high levels.

So the race against the clock continues. We have two years from next week, or so, to stabilize Baghdad and provide the nascent moderate democracy of Iraq with a margin of safety in which to operate; after that, we have to assume a worst-case scenario involving a rabid dove in the White House who would rather play to the crowds (when was the last time the Great American Public was consulted so often and taken so seriously in the matter of how to prosecute a war?) and "bring our boys home" without regard to the price of that action.

As I started saying in, oh, 2005 or so, please, Democrats - for the sake of the children you tend to trot out at convenient moments, nominate someone with some foreign policy credibility and a will to maintain the American Moment.

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