From the Washington Post:
"The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate.
Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages, the officials said.
But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.
The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion."
No. I'm sorry. But no, no, no.
If there were some reason to think that a "surge" of troops really would change things for the better, then I would be on board -- as I've said all along, I think we have very serious responsibilities to the Iraqis, and if sending more troops to Iraq, in the numbers that seem to be in any sense possible, would help us to meet them, then so be it.
But there is no reason to think that a surge will do any good at all; and there are a lot of reasons to think that it might make things worse. The Joint Chiefs point out some of them in the Post article:
"The Pentagon has cautioned that a modest surge could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeal for more foreign fighters to flock to Iraq to attack U.S. troops, the officials said.
The informal but well-armed Shiite militias, the Joint Chiefs have also warned, may simply melt back into society during a U.S. surge and wait until the troops are withdrawn -- then reemerge and retake the streets of Baghdad and other cities.
Even the announcement of a time frame and mission -- such as for six months to try to secure volatile Baghdad -- could play to armed factions by allowing them to game out the new U.S. strategy, the chiefs have warned the White House.
The idea of a much larger military deployment for a longer mission is virtually off the table, at least so far, mainly for logistics reasons, say officials familiar with the debate. Any deployment of 40,000 to 50,000 would force the Pentagon to redeploy troops who were scheduled to go home."
There are, of course, more reasons. As Pat lang and Ray McGovern point out, "major reinforcement would commit the US Army and Marine Corps to decisive combat in which there are no more strategic reserves to be sent to the front." Those troops will be fighting under constraints imposed by an Iraqi government that seems to be unwilling to allow them to act freely -- e.g., to take on the Mahdi army. This is perfectly understandable, since al Sadr is part of the government, but it means that whatever troops we do send will be operating under serious constraints that are not conducive to success.
Then there's the little matter of breaking the Army. Colin Powell says it's already broken, and I trust his judgment on this one. But that doesn't mean that sending tens of thousands of additional troops to Iraq can't break it some more.
This point (from the Post article) is the most important of all:
"[T]he Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives (...)"
For the White House to consider sending troops to Iraq without having a clear mission in mind, because they can't think of anything better, is just shameful. George W. Bush has spent his entire life not having to bear the consequences of his own failures. Back in what might charitably be called his business career, those consequences were financial, and they were borne by rich people who were willing to accept them for reasons of their own. Now, Bush is proposing to avoid recognizing that he has failed again by asking young men and women to lay down their lives, without having bothered to come up with a clear idea of what they are supposed to be doing. Children will grow up without a parent; soldiers will have to spend months in Walter Reed learning to live without an arm or a leg; people who have suffered traumatic brain injury will have to figure out how to go on when they can't remember simple things, or concentrate, or control their moods; and for what?
Not so that we can actually achieve some tolerable result in Iraq; not to defend our country and its interests; but to allow George W. Bush to go on for another year or so without admitting to himself that he has failed.
I'm with Scarecrow at FDL: The important question is not whether Bush will listen to the ISG report. He won't. The important question is: what should we, as a country, do when he decides to ignore the ISG report, the Joint chiefs, and the nation. Because it looks as though that's what he's about to do. And, as usual, someone will pay the price, but it won't be him.
And one more thing: Bush says that “I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume.” I devoutly hope that's not true, since only a sociopath could sleep easily in his circumstances.