It seems the administration is getting the public used to the idea of sending more troops to Iraq. From David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times:
Military planners and White House budget analysts have been asked to provide President Bush with options for increasing American forces in Iraq by 20,000 or more. The request indicates that the option of a major “surge” in troop strength is gaining ground as part of a White House strategy review, senior administration officials said Friday.
Who is really behind this? General John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, has said that a surge in troops levels would only have a temporary effect, and might delay the "standing up" of Iraqi forces. General George Casey, commander of forces in Iraq, has not actively supported a troop surge. General Peter Schoomacher, Army Chief of Staff, says, "We would not surge without a purpose, and that purpose should be measurable."
Lieutenant General Raymond T. Odierno, who is assuming day-to-day command of U.S. forces in Iraq, is in favor of a troop surge. One can't help but suspect that there's a causal relationship between Odierno's position on troop levels and his appointment to his new position.
Frederick Kagan, former professor of military history at West Point and neo-confederate of Project for the New American Century (PNAC) founder Bill Kristol, has been a leading advocate of a force level increase. Kagan was chief author of Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq, recently published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and presented to the White House. AEI is a sister neoconservative think tank of the PNAC, and Kagan is involved with both organizations.
Kagan's "Plan for Success" is the template for the proposed Iraq strategy that includes additional forces in Iraq, an increase in overall Army and Marine Corps end strength. It rejects the key recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) to withdraw U.S. troops, to engage in talks with Syria and Iran, and to embed more U.S. trainers with Iraqi units. Kagan's approach "requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq," which, not coincidentally, folds in neatly with young Mister Bush's consistent rhetoric on the subject (which was crafted for him by neoconservative think tanks like AEI and PNAC.)
Out With the Old, In With the Neo
Some pundits hailed the Democratic victory in November and the arrival of James Baker's Iraq Study group as the death of neoconservatism at the hands of old school realism, but they were sadly mistaken. As Leon Hadar of Lew Rockwell.com says, "Rumors of a neocon death are highly exaggerated."
The neocons have, in fact, been strategizing their survival and resurgence since late 2004, when Bill Kristol called for PNAC charter member Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense. The neoconservative initiative to invade Iraq and unseat Saddam Hussein was correct, according to Kristol and other neocon luminaries. The only problem was that darn old Don Rumsfeld screwed things up by going in with too few troops, too little armor, etc. While Rumsfeld has much to answer for in this life and the next for his mishandling of the Iraq situation, he certainly doesn't deserve to wear the beard for the overall failure of the neoconservative policy of global domination through use of armed force.
War is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means.
-- Karl von Clausewitz
Today, the neocons are riding on Fred Kagan's academic credibility and gravitas. I have mixed thoughts about Fred. Prior to his conspicuous shift into the neoconservative political camp, I considered him the military scholarship peer of my mentor, Milan Vego of the U.S. Naval War College. Like Vego, Kagan was highly skeptical of Rumsfeld-favored transformational concepts like network-centric warfare, effects based operations, and shock and awe.
In January 2003, two months before Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced, Vego wrote in Proceedings that:
Network-centric warfare reduces the art of war to tactics and targets…
…[We] must restore the balance between strategy, operational art, and tactics…
… The Clausewitzian thoughts on the nature of war, the relationships between policy and use of military power, and the effect of fog of war and friction are tossed away as unimportant in the information age.
In September 2003, months after the fall of Baghdad, Kagan wrote in Policy Review that in both Afghanistan and Iraq...
…the U.S. has been far less successful in winning the peace than it was in winning the war…
…Neither [network-centric warfare] nor “shock and awe” provides a reliable recipe for translating the destruction of the enemy’s ability to continue to fight into the accomplishment of the political objectives of the conflict.
It's all well and good that two of America's leading military thinkers recognize that high tech tactical measures alone cannot achieve the political aims of war, but I am profoundly disappointed that Fred Kagan now argues that low tech tactical measures can achieve strategy and policy goals that high tech measures cannot.
Fred Kagan has lost all credibility as an honest broker of military thought and scholarship. He's become a compliant tool of the of the neoconservative cabal headed by his brother Bob Kagan and Bill Kristol, whose objective is to commit American to expanding its conventional military forces to engage in an eternal state of warfare against an marginally definable "enemy" that has no army, air force or navy.
If Fred Kagan and his neo-conspirators get their way on Iraq--and they're likely to--America will permanently become a militaristic oligarchy, supported by theocratic underpinnings, one that justifies its existence by "promoting democracy" throughout the world at the point of a gun.
If young Mister Bush follows Kagan's advice, he'll be heeding solutions from the same jackdaws who created the problem in the first place.
That will make his legacy in a two-word epithet: redefining insanity.
But then again, redefining insanity is what the neoconservative vision was all about.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.