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Disaster in the Making


Couldn't sleep, checked my e-mail and was astonished:

Pentagon's plan: More U.S. troops in Iraq — Boosting presence and aid, and an anti-Sadr offensive, carry risks but offer the best path to victory, military officials say.
By Julian E. Barnes, Times Staff Writer
10:25 PM PST, December 12, 2006   

WASHINGTON — As President Bush weighs new policy options for Iraq, strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to "double down" in the country with a substantial buildup in American troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff will present their assessment and recommendations to Bush at the Pentagon today. Military officials, including some advising the chiefs, have argued that an intensified effort may be the only way to get the counterinsurgency strategy right and provide a chance for victory.

The approach overlaps somewhat a course promoted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). But the Pentagon proposals add several features, including the confrontation with Sadr, a possible renewed offensive in the Sunni stronghold of Al Anbar province, a large Iraqi jobs program and a proposal for a long-term increase in the size of the military.

Such an option would appear to satisfy Bush's demand for a strategy focused on victory rather than disengagement. It would disregard key recommendations and warnings of the Iraq Study Group, however, and provide little comfort for those fearful of a long, open-ended U.S. commitment in the country. Only 12% of Americans support a troop increase, whereas 52% prefer a fixed timetable for withdrawal, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.

 "I think it is worth trying," a defense official said. "But you can't have the rhetoric without the resources. This is a double down" — the gambling term for upping a bet.

Such a proposal, military officials and experts caution, would be a gamble. Any chance of success probably would require major changes in the Iraqi government, they said. U.S. Embassy officials would have to help usher into power a new coalition in Baghdad that was willing to confront the militias. And the strategy also would require more U.S. spending to increase the size of the U.S. military and for an Iraqi jobs program.

What Bush is doing is gambling that he can crush the Sadrist movement while taking on the Sunni guerrillas in Anbar Province, the one the Marines say they no longer can control.

He has been convinced by Cheney that if they take this risk, they might save Iraq.

In short, Cambodia, 1970.

A jobs program? When they did that, the Sadrist mullahs got all the credit in Sadr City. 70 perecent of all Iraqis want us gone. A jobs program doesn't make that occupation any more palatable.

The plan is to stage a coup to install the new, US-owned government, and then launch the Go Big plan. The problem is that the US thinks that they can shove aside or break the Sadr movement. which represents the vast majority of Iraqis. The Iraqi exiles think that he's a bumpkin and can be dealt with. I expect that they will realize how he has outflanked them at every move when the Mahdi Army beats back their scheme.

The New York Times has reported that the Mahdi Army has 60,000 men under arms. Most of whom are trigger pullers. The US will be able to send less than 10,000 American and Iraqi grunts on the ground. And I think 60K is low. Very low.

So, if you were an Iraqi, and the US replaced your government, would you have any loyalty to a bunch of exile schemers.

And as coup plots go, I would not be shocked to see Sadr strike first and deal with the plotters who organize in the White House. Then flood the streets with protestors

But this insanity means Congress must act.

There needs to be a Joint Committee to investigate the Conduct of the Iraq War. Harry Truman became famous investigating war contractors.

Congress needs to quickly establish oversight and demand all the players explain why this last great push will work better than the other great pushes, and why after pushing democracy, we sponsor a coup.

The ISG, imperfect as it was, was cover for Bush to wind down his failed war. So now, like a spiteful teenager, he's gonna show us all that he was right and Go Big, regardless of what anyone thinks.

Needless to say, this is a disaster in the making.

This offensive will fail because they don't have the men to win. When it does fail, Bush and Cheney should resign or be impeached. Because they will have killed Americans and Iraqis for no good reason except Bush's ego. And Congress needs to demand answers from these men.

Map credit Maps of War

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Steve Gilliard

Steve Gilliard