Sunday, December 10, 2006
we were brothers, you and me, loyal to our hardcore scene:
The Washington Post notes that the right's dissatisfaction with the Baker commission buys Bush some room to come up with his own plans. But what will Bush be putting on the table? Obviously he's not going to commit to troop withdrawals, nor will he negotiate with Iran and Syria. Yet from what we've been able to see so far about the Pentagon and NSC reviews, what's on the table is a short-term infusion of troops to create Fortress Baghdad (how'd that work out in Vietnam, again?) while shifting military emphasis away from combat and onto training Iraqi security forces. Wait till The Weekly Standard gets a load of that. It is the Baker commission's recommendation. There will be no McCainiac surge of forces that don't exist, because no one wants to send larger numbers of men to die for a futile cause, but largely because they don't exist.

(A brief digression. Hilariously, in the Standard's editorial this week inveighing against Baker, Kagan n' Kristol write:
And yes, the troops exist. We have addressed both these questions in recent weeks. Our colleague, Frederick W. Kagan, has written extensively in these pages and elsewhere on why 50,000 additional troops are needed in Iraq, what exactly they would do, and where they would come from.
Of course he didn't! Go hunting through those pieces, and you'll find analysis on the level of "There are a million-four soldiers in the Army... but only about 120,000 in Iraq. There are more troops available!" Ah, for such expertise! But anyway.)

One last thing. Let's say we do in fact decide to shift "emphasis" onto training and away from combat. Count me as skeptical that this will ever happen. First of all, there's a maddening vagueness in the idea of shifting "emphasis." What will happen when our embedded U.S. soldiers and marines are fired upon, and their Iraqi colleagues don't fire back, or get killed? Will the troops be scribbling down notes and tsk-tsking into their clipboards? Furthermore, what does "securing Baghdad" really mean? What's an acceptable level of security? 60 attacks a day? 30? Attacks on who? All of these plans presuppose that a level of quiet can be reached, and then the next phase of the plan can proceed. Ask yourself: over the past three and a half years, has it gotten quieter?

We're in headless-chicken phase. Laura points us to an ABC report on military options. They include assassinating Sadr's key dudes, while we tilt to the Shiites politically. Apparently the thinking is that Sadr's millions of followers will defect to the other Iranian-allied (but friendlier to us!) Shiite figure as soon as a few of his guys are capped. Hmm. No one, I'm gathering, has thought through what "backing the Shiites" actually means: It means strengthening the hand of Moqtada Sadr, you dumb fucks. And remember: the rest of your "plan" depends on quiet -- you think Baghdad will get any quieter when Moqtada's lieutenants go down?
--Spencer Ackerman