The latest proposed emergency measure, this one coming from the Pentagon, is another plan with a catchy, sexy name derived from a popular casino card game. From Julian E. Barnes of the Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — As President Bush weighs new policy options for Iraq, strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to "double down" in the country with a substantial buildup in American troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff will present their assessment and recommendations to Bush at the Pentagon today. Military officials, including some advising the chiefs, have argued that an intensified effort may be the only way to get the counterinsurgency strategy right and provide a chance for victory.
There's way too much testosterone and swaggering cowboy mythology in this plan, which means it will undoubtedly appeal to the gambler in chief. The ephemeral promise of a "chance for victory" may be too much for young Mister Bush to walk away from. He has, after all, insisted all along that he will settle for nothing short of victory, no matter how many times wiser, mature advisers have told him that "victory" per se is unattainable.
In the casino card game Blackjack, "double down" is something skilled players only do when they're ahead, and have cards that offer favorable odds of success. Mister Bush is not ahead of the game, and he has a fistful of the worst cards in the deck. If he decides to double down now, he'll be doing something akin to what the worst Blackjack players do, which is called "double up to catch up," a gambling method casinos love to see their clients indulge in. That leads to another gambling term called "bet the farm," which Bush is also entirely likely to do. And in case you weren't aware of it, gamblers who bet their farms almost always lose them.
Wise Guy Counsel
The "double down" strategy springs from a proposal by Frederick W. Kagan, who plans to release a report on his ideas this Thursday. Fred Kagan is a former professor of military history at West Point. He's also a core member of the neoconservative cabal. His brother Bob is a close associate with Weekly Standard publisher and Project for the New American Century (PNAC) founder Bill Kristol. Fred is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, another neoconservative think tank that pushed for an invasion of Iraq, and he was a co-author of the PNAC's Rebuilding America's Defenses of September 2000, a document that pressed for a U.S. invasion of Iraq prior to the 9/11 attacks even though "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
Listening to the likes of Fred Kagan to resolve the problems that he himself helped create is both a sublime and tragic form of insanity, but I fear that's what Mister Bush and his team are about to do. And that our latter day Machiavelli Dick Cheney still sits next to the American throne ups the odds that Bush will heed Fred Kagan's advice.
Despite the recent election results, we're still in the hands of neoconservative fools, fanatics, and bad card players.
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.