Wittingly or not, the New York Times has once again fallen in lockstep with the neoconservative agenda. Its editorial of December 24 titled "A Real-World Army" promotes a recipe for ensuring the United States maintains a permanent state of war.
Military reality finally broke through the Bush administration’s ideological wall last week, with President Bush publicly acknowledging the need to increase the size of the overstretched Army and Marine Corps.
Larger ground forces are an absolute necessity for the sort of battles America is likely to fight during the coming decades: extended clashes with ground-based insurgents rather than high-tech shootouts with rival superpowers…
… Given the time required to recruit and train the additional troops, the proposed increase will not make much difference in Iraq’s current battles. But over time it will help make America more secure and better prepared to meet future crises.
If there's a genuine lesson to be learned from the Iraq fiasco, it's that we don't need to fight any more "extended clashes with ground-based insurgents." We'll only need to fight insurgencies if we conduct more preemptive regime change invasions, in which case we won't be "meeting" future crises, we'll be creating them.
Though we no longer have any "rival superpowers," any future conflicts we engage in with third tier rogue world nations should, in fact, be "high tech" shootouts. The kinds of wars we might need to fight with an Iran or a Korea would largely be naval and air power strike operations, not major ground campaigns to take and hold enemy sovereign territory.
It's true that because of the time required to ramp up the ground force end strength, such action will "not make much difference in Iraq's current battles," but given the trend we're seeing in the halls of power, Mr. Bush intends to maintain a significant troop presence in Iraq through the end of his term, which means the larger force will come online just in time (around 2008) to continue the Iraq conflict beyond Bush's tenure.
Post-Bush, we'll either have a Republican war hawk like John McCain in the White House or a Democrat who will face the unsavory choice of continuing Bush's Middle East policy as a fait accompli or risk being labeled by latter day Rovewellians as the "Defeat-ocrat" who lost the war Bush was "definitely winning" when he turned over the watch even though the new Democrat on the block had sufficient force--thanks to Bush's foresight, of course--to continue the fight.
The Kristol Palace
Not surprisingly, the Times editorial also follows the neocon company line that makes Donald Rumsfeld the scapegoat for Iraq.
…it took the departure of Donald Rumsfeld — the author of the failed Iraq policy and the doctrine of going to war with less than the Army we needed — for Mr. Bush finally to accept this reality.
Rumsfeld has much to answer for--in this life and hopefully in the next--for the tragic embarrassment in Iraq. But to single him out as the "author of the failed Iraq policy and doctrine" is out-and-out mendacity.
Yes, Rumsfeld was a key member of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC), but he was hardly alone in formulating the Iraq policy. Other PNAC luminaries who endorsed a ground invasion of Iraq back in 1998 included recently deposed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, present U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, and PNAC founder Bill Kristol.
Kristol first pushed Rumsfeld on the third rail of the commuter tracks back in 2004 when he lambasted the then SecDef's comment about "you go to war with the Army you have."
If irony were still alive and with us, it would be a funny thing that Kristol and his wingman Bob Kagan thought the Army we had back in 1998 was sufficient to "do this job." In a New York Times article from January of that year, they wrote:
If Mr. Clinton is serious about protecting us and our allies from Iraqi biological and chemical weapons, he will order ground forces to the gulf. Four heavy divisions and two airborne divisions are available for deployment. The President should act, and Congress should support him in the only policy that can succeed.
It would also be funny how in December 2006, Kristol's pet military scholar Fred Kagan (Bob Kagan's brother) justified his call for an immediate influx of troops to Iraq and an increase in ground force end strength by claiming that all alternative proposals "will fail."
It would be even funnier that Kristol now says any troop increase in Iraq must be permanent to achieve success. From a December 24 article by David Edwards of Raw Story:
"There's no point having a short term surge," Kristol said on Fox News Channel. "Especially, if it's proclaimed ahead of time that it's just short term. Then [the enemy] goes into hiding for 3 or 6 months."
"We pull back and we're in the same situation," the Weekly Standard editor said. "Bush will commit--I believe, when he speaks in a couple of weeks--to doing this. That this is a strategy for victory and that he's willing to do this for the remaining two years of his presidency."
I suspect Kristol is correct that Bush will go for a permanent escalation, because I think Dick Cheney is on board with Kristol, and you-know-who is on board with anything Cheney has to say.
We are witnessing a covert form of deliberate strategic mission creep. From the outset, the PNAC neoconservatives' goal was to establish a permanent military footprint in the geographic heart of Middle East and to set America on a course of ever increasing militarization.
The longer I watch events unfold, the more I fear they'll get away with it, regardless of what the electorate demands, and with the hapless assistance of the so-called "liberal media."
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.