Thursday, November 16, 2006

Stop Digging, Part Two


“Here's how I interpret the contretemps Wednesday between Gen. John Abizaid and Republican Senator John McCain. McCain wants to send another division, about 20,000 US troops, to Iraq. Abizaid told him: 1) that would produce only a temporary improvement since the US doesn't have a spare division to send to Iraq for the long term and; 2) Increased US troop levels are counterproductive because they remove the incentive for the Iraqi government and army to get their acts together and fight the guerrillas and militias effectively and; 3) If Iraq is going to come back to better days, it will have to be primarily with Iraqi troops and; 4) Iraqi troops are not now doing the job, so if more US troops are sent to Iraq it should be as trainers and units available for joint patrols, not as independent combat troops.

I'd just like to point out that most of Abizaid's arguments could also be deployed for a phased withdrawal, which he opposed. My senator, Carl Levin supports the phased withdrawal idea, and so do I. What if it isn't just an increased US presence that would remove the incentive for Iraqi leaders to compromise and/or fight effectively? What if *present* troop levels do that? I say, let's take out a division ASAP (20,000 men) and make it clear that we're never putting a division back in to replace it. Then let the Iraqis try to fill the resulting vacuum themselves. Give them armored vehicles, tanks, helicopter gunships, and a nice wood-paneled room where they can negotiate with one another. And then after a couple of months I would pull out another US division. Such a phased withdrawal is not guaranteed to succeed. It has a better chance of succeeding than the current policy.”

I have no use for Abizaid’s “stay the course” perspective. But, I do respect Juan Cole’s assessment of the options. However, my question is this: From the Iraqis’ point of view, why should they be motivated “to get their acts together and fight the guerrillas and militias effectively” when they did not ever choose to have their country attacked, invaded, destroyed by US forces and infiltrated by terrorists from near and far? Why should Iraqi government and military leaders feel it is their responsibility to clean up the Bushite’s mess? The Iraqis did not topple their own dictatorial, but effective, Hussein government – we did. The Iraqis did not have a plan regarding what to do “After Saddam” so why are the Bushites insisting they come up with one now? The Iraqis did not invite Al-Qaeda and their ilk into Iraq. Those forces were motivated to infiltrate because of the presence of over 150,000 US troops on Iraqi soil. The Bushites created this quagmire, maybe it’s entirely appropriate for the Iraqis to act like they expect the Bushites to fix it?