Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kristol, Kagan and the "More Troops" Meme

Iconic neocons Bill Kristol and Bob Kagan are at it again. In their latest Weekly Standard opinion piece, they call for young Mister Bush to commit an additional 50,000 troops to Iraq. This has become the standard weekly war cry from Kristol and Kagan, who have been trying to distance themselves from their fellow administration neoconservatives since late in 2004 when it became apparent that their old partner in crime Donald Rumsfeld's Iraq strategy wasn't working.

In their latest article, Kristol and Kagan argue that an additional 50,000 troops will help achieve a "victory" in Iraq, but in truth, more troops won't accomplish much more than provide terrorists and insurgents in that country with more targets. What's more, I suspect that Kristol and Kagan know that.

Neocon Games

Kristol and Kagan, on advice of Kagan's brother Fred, the military historian, assert that an additional 50,000 U.S. troops could bring Baghdad under control, which could lead to an eventual "win" in the Iraq war.

This theory has more than a few critical flaws.

To begin with, an infusion of that size would not produce 50,000 combat soldiers. In standard U.S. Army operations, the tail to tooth ratio is roughly 10 to one. That means every trigger puller deployed requires 10 combat support and combat service support personnel (docs, clerks, truck drivers, cooks, engineers, etc.) to keep him in the trenches. By that equation, 50,000 troops net a total of only 5,000 trigger pullers, and those trigger pullers can't stay in the trenches 24/7/365. They have to be rotated out of the line for rest and relaxation. If we split the trigger pullers into two shifts--which is frankly too draconian to provide much rest and relaxation for any of them--our infusion of 50,000 troops nets a total of 2,500 shooters in service at any given time.

That leaves 47.500 troops in "the rear with the gear," except that in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad, there is no "rear" because there are no front lines. So a major percentage of the shooters active at any given time will be occupied defending their support troops and their fellow shooters who are resting and relaxing.

Can a thousand or so trigger pullers make a difference in Baghdad's security situation? Perhaps so, but what good will that do? The Baghdad insurgents won't play a "fight to the death" game. They'll sneak away from the city and regroup in another part of the country, and what then? If we send those 2,500 trigger pullers after them, they'll just sneak back into Baghdad where they can mop up on the 47,000 support troops who were left behind.

Then what will Kristol and the Kagan brothers recommend? Another 50,000 troops, and another 50,000 troops after that, and another 50,000 troops after that, and another 50,000 troops after that, and another 50,000 troops after that?

Neocon Carne

The meat behind the rhetoric of Kristol, the Kagans and the other neocons in their camp is that they want to blame the failure of their global dominance vision on the incompetence of their former colleagues like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and Wolfowitz who turned that vision (which they all shared) into failed policies and strategies.

The call for more troops in Iraq is singularly diabolical stratagem. If Son of Bush knuckles under and follows that advice, he'll create the never ending war and the ever-increasing military presence in the Middle East that the PNAC neocons envisioned from the outset. If Sonny ignores that advice and things go even further south in Iraq, Kristol and the Kagans and the rest of them can say, "See, he should have listened to us."

Make no mistake. Kristol and the rest of his loyal neocon base aren't interested in saving Iraq. They're interested in saving the neoconservative movement, and the Big Brother Broadcast media and think tank network that supports it.

The Company They Keep

John McCain agrees with Kristol and Kagan that we need more troops in Iraq. Kristol and Kagan think talking to Iran and Syria is a bad idea. So does MSNBC's Monica Crowley. Kristol and Kagan have encouraged a military strike on Iran. Charles Krauthammer has too. So has Ralph Peters. And Thomas Sowell. And (shudder) Ann Coulter.

The pattern of far right war hawk rhetoric looks like something out of an M.C. Escher painting. At first glance, things might seem logically constructed, but a second look reveals an insanity that defies the basic precepts of reality. The most prominent voices in the chicken wing say we should bomb Syria and Iran rather than talk to them about Iraq. And while most of them bow to the rational voices that say there is no military solution in Iraq, they continue to insist that the path to victory in Iraq is to send more troops there.

Though the noise still pouring out of the Big Brother Broadcast is plainly nuttier than a pistachio ranch, a large segment of America still listens to it and takes it seriously.

God help America.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.


  1. Jeff, you know, if I thought that sending an additional 50K troops would provide sufficient combat power to overwhelm the insurgents/militia/police to put an end to this mess I might see the sense of it. But given who the advocates are and given the fact they fawned all over Rumsfeld's light force three years ago and given the lack of military expertise of the neocon crew and further given that they give no idea of how exactly they see an additional 50K being used, it's just that much more nonsense. I don't think you or I or anyone else would ever want to see a CENTCOM OPLAN made public, but the hue & cry seems to be for "more troops" as though mass itself with no suggestion of what they'd do is sufficient. Maybe we should visit
    and place an order for an early Christmas gift for our favorite neocon.

  2. Mike,

    With no coherent military objective, a million more troops wouldn't make a monkey's spit worth of difference. ;-)