Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Iraq: Bigger and Longer

It appears the Great Decider has decided to go big and long.

As Peter Baker of the Washington Post reports, Mr. Bush is considering a troop surge in Iraq, and to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps by as many as 70,000 troops. The Army says every additional 10,000 troops will cost roughly $1.2 billion per year. Since recruiting and training take time, any force end strength increase would not be felt until 2008 at the earliest.

So why bother to increase the size of the land forces unless you either a) plan to maintain troop forces at present levels in Iraq beyond 2008 or b) plan to invade and occupy another country or c) a combination of the two.

Brave New World Dictionary

Mr. Bush says he'll listen to his generals, but he doesn’t say which generals he'll listen to. General John Abizaid, head of Central Command has cautioned against a troop surge. Abizaid has announced his intention to retire in March of next year. Abizaid's four-year term was scheduled to end in July 2007. Funny thing how Bush listened to Abizaid when Abizaid was telling him we didn't need any more troops in Iraq, but doesn't want to listen to him now.

Last week, Army chief of staff Peter Schoomacher warned Congress that the active-duty Army "will break" under the strain of current war zone rotations.

This week, Mr. Bush said "I haven't heard the word 'broken,' " he said, "but I've heard the word, 'stressed.'" So it looks like he's not listening to General Schoomacher either.

Before the November elections, Mr. Bush said "Absolutely we're winning" in Iraq. Now he says "We're not wining, but we're not losing," a quote he attributed to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace. Ah! Now we know which general Bush is listening to.

Asked on Tuesday about his earlier "Absolutely we're winning" remark, Bush replied, "Yes, that was an indication of my belief we're going to win."

So what he said in the past was happening in the present is presently something he was saying about the future. I guess it all depends what his definition of "is" was.

Mr. Bush has an established track record of interpreting things the way he wants to: the Constitution, laws, treaties--and now elections. He doesn't interpret the recent Democratic victory as a mandate to bring troops home. He interprets it as a call to find a new way to succeed. Did it really take an election to convince him he needed to find a way to succeed in Iraq?

The Big Press Conference

Mister Bush, 10:00 AM, Wednesday.

Success is essential to securing peace for our children and grandchildren. Sustaining the future over the long haul. We need to increase the size of the Army and Marines. Realities on the ground. New way forward. Succeed. Challenges of the 21st century. Victory. No retreat.

I encourage you all to go shopping more????????????????


Buy Partisan

Mr. Bush speaks much of late about finding bipartisan solutions for Iraq, but I suspect that like everything else, "bipartisan" means whatever he wants it to mean. If the Democrats agree to everything he wants to do in Iraq, he'll call it a bipartisan plan. If the Democrats stand up to him, he'll accuse them of being partisan.

If the Democrats go along with the bipartisan plan and it doesn’t work, it will be their fault. If the Democrats insist on a partisan plan and it doesn't work, it will be their fault. If either the partisan or bipartisan plan does work, it will be because of everything the administration and the Pentagon did before Mr. Bush approved of the plan.

I hope that's not how things play out, but it's what I'm planning on happening.

What I don't plan on seeing any time soon is adoption of the most rational plan for Iraq I've heard to date, which is Congressman Jack Murtha's proposal to redeploy our troops to the region's periphery.

Nothing we do, bipartisan or otherwise, will truly "work," not in the sense of achieving the sort of victory Mr. Bush insists on seeking. The people of Iraq need to work their problems out for themselves. There's no military solution in Iraq, and we can't solve their partisan political issues.

Meanwhile, we have a big issue to resolve at home, an issue far more vital to America's survival as a republic than global terrorism. Mr. Bush has, with the able assistance of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (the general he listens to most), become a "unitary executive" which is Rovewellian for "emperor." The best thing the Democratic Congress can do is to perform CPR on the Constitution and see if it comes back to life.


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


  1. I believe it's all a last big push aimed at stringing this thing out until late 2008. Then it's someone else's problem.

    Also, Halliburton stockholders will be pleased.

  2. Jeff,

    You really think Dubya would do things to keep Uncle Dick and his pals happy? No way! ;-)

  3. I believe, too, that W is in a stalling mode so it'll be the next Administration's problem. "I did what I could," he will say, "I listened to the generals, look what happened."

    Which then leads me to think that when this is all said and done the military will be left holding the bag. Not W, not the VP, not the neocons.

    I didn't see the press conference. He actually said do more shopping?

  4. I believe Abizaid's term was scheduled to end in July of 2006. Every previous CENTCOM commander has served for about three years, and Abizaid started in July 2003. There have been news reports for months that Abizaid is burned out and has been asking to retire but Rumsfeld wouldn't let him.

  5. jpr: “And I encourage you all to go shopping more.”

    I know. You have to play it a few times for it to sink in.

  6. JPR,

    Yes, he actually said that.


    Uhm, I'm thinking now that you may be right. Here's from the source LA Times document:
    Abizaid's four-year term as chief of the Central Command, or Centcom, was to end in July. But some close to the Army have speculated in recent weeks that his term might be extended to see through implementation of the administration's new Iraq strategy. However, a Centcom spokesman said that earlier this year, Rumsfeld asked Abizaid to stay only until "early 2007."

    "He does not intend to extend beyond that period," the spokesman said. "Gen. Abizaid became commander in July 2003 and has served longer in this position than any previous commander."

    But now that you bring it up, I checked at wikipedia and yeah, the typical term has been three years.

    I'm not sure what's up here, but have a feeling the LAT was just wrong.


  7. Of course they want to drag this out until 08'. They have contracts to fulfill, for crying out loud.

    I try to explain this to people, but they just won't listen.

    Semper Fidelis