Thursday, July 03, 2003

The Other Shoe

From the Seattle Times:

Huge influx of troops sought to secure Iraq

Amid growing indications that some of the attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq are organized and coordinated, the chief civilian administrator and Army officers on the ground would like an increase of as many as 50,000 troops in the theater, according to knowledgeable sources.

A plea by U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer for the additional troops was discussed at a national-security council meeting several days ago. The White House has indicated it would be reluctant to agree to such a large increase, the equivalent of more than two divisions, the sources said.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was reviewing the request from Bremer, U.S. officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

A source outside the administration but familiar with the deliberations said, "The White House is aware that Bremer wants them," he said. "They're not happy about it. They don't want a formal request because then, politically, there's fallout."


The issue of troop strength to stabilize a postwar Iraq is a sensitive one.

In February, then-Army chief of staff Eric Shinseki was publicly ridiculed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq policy, for telling Congress that "several hundred thousand" troops would be needed to guarantee stability.

President Bush, meanwhile, began preparing the American public yesterday for a prolonged U.S. role in Iraq, citing the need for "a massive and long-term" effort to bring democracy and prosperity to the war-torn country. (italics and bold face mine)

I'd clip this article and keep it around. It's a perfect snapshot taken with a wide lense that picks up all the relevant data.

It seems clear that Rove has decided to try and get done some of what the critics say needs doing as sub-rosa as possible, to avoid any discussions of mistakes made.

In the meantime, what he's mapped out for the President is a trip to another continent, and a rhetorical strategy that welcomes references to Vietnam and quagmires (think Eastwood's "make my day"), because they are the easiest criticisms to counter.

I suspect that all critiques of how we're failing to secure the peace and begin to move towards democracy in Iraq will be treated as if they're calls to retreat. Even questions about those cancelled elections can be characterized as attempts to rush the process so we can get the hell out of there.

We need some thinking about how to continue the critique, without finding that we're playing Karl's game.

That's my two cents. Tell me yours.