Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ambivalence, Iraq and My Cynicism

This story caught my eye, for obvious reasons:
Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.

Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.
And I am deeply ambivalent about the import of this news. My first, viscerally cynical, reaction is to say "just in time for the mid-term elections." But that's both too facile and violates my stated personal ethic of not giving too much weight to the intentions behind actions. Sooooo, what do I really think?

It's fabulous that 60,000 people won't be off in some desert acting as targets any jackass with some dynomite and a box of nails. But what about the 100,000 that are left? We are already stretched too thin in Iraq, our soldiers playing whack-a-mole, with the moles fighting back.

The fact of the matter is that we are over there. How we got there doesn't especially matter at this point. That's a sunk cost, and though it's worthy of discussion, it shouldn't affect our decision about what to do now. I tend to agree with Murtha's point that our troops are a catalyst for insurgent activities, so removing that stimulous might help. At the same time, there is a sizable insurgent presence which will not go away just because our troops do. And the Iraqi infrastructure is not yet at the point where they can handle the problem.

Sadly, the best solution is probably more troops, for now, not less. If we're going to occupy, then lets occupy. Let's remove insurgents from villages and stick around and make the town safe. If we provide actual safety, infrastructure can emerge. And we'll be out sooner. But that will never happen, because it involves either the Dems or the GOPs propsing the measure first. And if you thought Murtha got slammed, wait til someone says we need more troops...

I feel like I'm talking about Iraq too much. Or is it that other people aren't talking about it enough?

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