Also at DKos.
Politicians, pundits and senior military officers alike have characterized the so-called Iraq surge strategy with words like "the last best chance for success." So what if it doesn't work?
According to Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks of the Washington Post, a group of governors asked that question of Mr. Bush and Joint Chiefs chairman Peter Pace in a meeting at the White House last week. Pace's answer: "I'm a Marine, and Marines don't talk about failure. They talk about victory."
Shades of Doctor Strangelove!
There Is No Plan B, Mandrake
Governor Phil Bredesen (D-Tenn.) told DeYoung and Ricks that Pace's Plan B was "to make Plan A work."
Apparently, some within the government are thinking about a worst-case scenario. Last month, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Congress "I would be irresponsible if I weren't thinking about what the alternatives might be."
The problem is that there is no "good" Plan B. The "best" Plan B would likely be something akin to Congressman Jack Murtha's (D-Penn.) proposal to redeploy to the periphery, but the Bush administration is unlikely to throw up its hands after Plan A fails and say "Murtha was right all along."
So even though nobody has a heck of a lot of faith in Plan A, it will succeed because it has to.
Bush supporters may call this being "resolute." I call it "faith based war fighting."
If At First You Don't Succeed…
I don't have a lot of faith at this point that the Democratically controlled Congress can stop Plan A from proceeding. The Battle of Baghdad has already commenced, and the legislature is unlikely to cut funding for troops already engaged in the field, or to provide reinforcements to an ongoing operation.
Prepare to hear a lot of talk about how "progress" in being made with the new "strategy"--more "corners turned" and "last throes" jabber.
Barring an unexpected breakthrough in the Congressional maneuvering, Plan A is here to stay.
Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is leading an effort to rewrite the 2002 authorization to invade Iraq. The new bill would not repeal the authorization, but would limit the U.S. mission in Iraq to training, counterterrorism efforts, border control and logistics support of Iraqi forces.
I like this idea in theory, but practically speaking, I doubt it could actually work. Iraq is a complex quagmire in which all the parts are interconnected. What good would it do to drive al-Qaeda out of Anbar province only to have the Mahdi Army or some other militia take over Baghdad? I'm also leery about Congress micromanaging the actions of commanders in the field. (Yes, I know that sounds like a Joe Lieberman argument, but it's a valid one.)
Operational considerations aside, though, it's not likely that Levin can craft a bill of this nature that will pass the Senate's 60 vote yardstick.
Iraq has turned into a perpetual disaster machine. Everything we do makes the situation worse, and the worse the situation gets, the more we do that worsens the situation even further.
Terms like "success" and "failure" no longer apply to the Iraq situation. We accomplished the "mission" of regime change more than three years ago, but we'll never transform Iraq into a democratic Shangri-la. Mr. Bush insists on pressing for a "victory" he can't define beyond the level of abstract platitudes, and will not tolerate a situation he considers to be a "defeat."
What is "defeat" in Iraq? The enemy (or enemies) cannot physically drive us out of Iraq. But is staying in Iraq to prove "they" can't drive us out a sane strategy or policy? It appears that Mr. Bush thinks it is. But then, to Mr. Bush, everything is a manhood measuring contest. Too bad he keeps coming up short.
Maybe that's why he's doing everything in his power to ensure we stay engaged militarily in Iraq for a very long time.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.