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????????????????
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.