PRESIDENT Bush will take to the nation's airwaves the first week in January with a speech announcing his new strategy in Iraq. His decision to delay the speech is, I suspect, a signal that his announcement will be dramatic - a second public declaration of war in Iraq.
I think he wants to get all the machinery moving and all the pieces in place, at which point he can declare with a flourish that "Operation Victory" has begun. That could mean the "surge" being discussed in Washington - the commitment of up to 50,000 more U.S. troops to secure Baghdad.
This is a "heavy footprint." If we do this, we will be saying we will engage and roust the enemy and then stay put for a while. Show our presence. Make it clear to the Iraqis that we're not bugging out.
Ironically, it's only with this kind of time that the "train, train, train" option becomes a viable security measure for Iraq's future - because training takes time, too.
Can it work?
That may be the wrong question. The right question may be: Will America allow it to work?
When you use an army to "establish security," you are not engaging a police force. You are assigning the task to highly armed men who aren't trained as police officers. You are talking about sending soldiers door to door, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood.
They're going to shoot people. They're going to blow up buildings, as they did in Fallujah.
They're going to be engaged in firefights by insurgents, and they're going to return fire. That will result in civilian casualties on the streets of Baghdad (or, as we saw in Lebanon last summer, in insurgent and militia casualties that we will be told falsely are civilian casualties).
What happens when these horrible tragedies of war occur? Will America's leading centrists - the politicians, anchorpersons, editorialists, writers and speakers who haven't quite given up on the mission in Iraq - discuss these events as part and parcel of an effort to save the people of Baghdad from chaos and carnage as we attempt to act decisively to win the war?
Or will they, instead, retreat in horror from the images on their TV sets and denounce the barbarous nature of the new U.S. mission? Will they see the battle for Baghdad as a heroic and dangerous task or as the new Abu Ghraib on a larger scale?
The toxic nature of the discussion on Iraq guarantees there will be Abu Ghraib-like talk from some quarters. If it becomes the dominant talking point, there's no way we will be able to sustain the mission, for it will be derailed by war-crime accusations and congressional hearings.
I'm trying to find a way to conclude these thoughts on a hopeful note.
And . . . nope. Sorry.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Too Squeamish To Win
The traitors in the MSM are probably gleefully licking their chops. John Podhoretz: