Bush’s Doomed Strategy for Iraq
December 26, 2006
The day after Christmas was not a peaceful one in Iraq.
The evolving U.S. military strategy seems to be “surge and train.” But neither has any hope of success.
At least 36 Iraqis died, with bombs going off all over Baghdad, and another roadside bomb exploding in Kirkuk, which managed to kill an 8-year-old girl, the AP reported.
Meanwhile, U.S. deaths in Iraq inched inexorably toward the ghoulish 3,000 mark. At 2,978, that terrible toll has now surpassed even the number of U.S. deaths on September 11, which was the cynical, irrational rationale for this war.
Bush still says the Iraq War is part of the long ideological struggle against terrorism.
Never mind that his commanders are telling him, and Baker and Hamilton are telling him, that the sectarian violence in Iraq is far more threatening than Al Qaeda.
Bush isn’t listening.
Because he’s boxed himself in.
He can’t pull the troops out because his rhetoric of total victory blocks that exit.
So, with the place ablaze, he’s going to light off more explosives.
He’s going to send in more troops.
The evolving U.S. military strategy seems to be “surge and train.”
But neither has any hope of success.
As Juan Cole notes, “The U.S. put an extra 15,000 men into Baghdad this past summer, aiming to crush the guerrillas and stop the violence in the capital, and the number of attacks actually increased.” The reason: The U.S. has lost hearts and minds. “They hate us, folks. They don’t want us there,” Cole says on his website, juancole.com.
And U.S. training of Iraqi troops has been an abysmal failure. The latest evidence of this comes in a Dec. 23 LA Times article by Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who writes that “75% of Iraqi soldiers don’t show up for duty.” She quotes one of the trainers, Marine Lt. Col. Mark Winn, saying: “We’re still at the point where if we’re not there, trash accumulates, nobody’s shaving or wearing uniforms, and we’re back where we started.” Winn told her it would take more than a year to “break their bad habits.” One of those bad habits is working with the militias. Another trainer told Hennessy-Fiske that an Iraqi commander they were working with “was having militia leaders over for meetings in his office.”
Having launched the war on false premises, and having bungled the occupation since day one and “Stuff happens,” the Bush Administration is in no position now to achieve any victory whatsoever.
Neither the surge nor the training will get it done.