Wednesday, January 10, 2007

On the verge of the surge

Tonight, President Bush will apparently inform the nation of the worst-kept secret since Emmitt Smith won "Dancing With the Stars," namely that the United States will be sending in a significant number of additional troops to Iraq in an attempt to enforce stability and order in Baghdad. If all the reports are to be believed (and if internet reports about Apple's new iPhone being released on Tuesday can be accurate, then certainly these can too), then somewhere in the neighborhood of an extra 20,000 troops will be sent in with the express purpose of pacifying Baghdad. In addition, there will be wheelbarrows of money allocated for infrastructure creation and jobs programs to help rebuild Iraq and give the people there an economic future.

First, with regards to the "surge," which is a politically more palatable term than the "escalation" of the war which this troop increase so clearly is. After the November elections, the talk was how the President would be changed as a result, and how the elections would force him to re-evaluate his strategies and methods.

Well, that didn't work. Throughout his presidency, the one word that can describe President Bush is hubris. That can be good or bad, depending on your perception of his goals. But this surge is the greatest act of hubris yet from the president. After dodging questions since the war began about insufficient troop levels by saying that he "just does what his generals on the ground say is necessary," President Bush is now apparently going to take an action that his generals have said will not only be unsuccessful, but will make matters worse.

Of course, those generals are now no longer "on the ground" in Iraq. Amazingly enough, when they started telling the president things he didn't want to hear, the president replaced those generals.

So now, maybe 20,000 additional American soldiers are going to be thrown into the meat-grinder that is Iraq, in the hope that they can keep things quiet enough for the Iraqi government to forge enough of a political consensus to stop the insurgency.

Of course, you have the problem of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al Malaki, owing his political life to Muqtada al Sadr, the guy who is primarily responsible for the Shi'ite militias that are stoking the fires of at least one side of the insurgency. Is the president's plan to ask Malaki to go after Sadr militarily? Why would he do that? HOW could he do that even if he wanted to?

A few months ago, the US military "surged" into Baghdad with this exact same idea, to overwhelm the area with force and keep the peace. All it did was give the insurgents more American targets to kill. It will be interesting tonight to see if the president makes reference to that failed attempt as he justifies pouring more gasoline on this raging inferno.

As for the idea of spending the extra money on infrastructure and jobs programs, it's a wonderful idea ... in 2003. I thought all of the billions that we were spending was supposed to do that already. Of course, the money that we spent for that was allocated without any oversight or accountability. Those billions have disappeared into the pockets of the political appointees who were sent over, into coffers of companies like Halliburton.

Apparently, the surge is coming. Senator Ted Kennedy is trying to pass a bill that would require Congressional authorization of any troop strength increase, but it doesn't appear that Congress will have the mettle to be able to prevent this newest escalation of hubris.

So, the surge is coming. The violence is coming. The death toll increase is coming. And the hubris of one man means there's not a damn thing that will stop it.

I truly hope I'm wrong. I'm tired of seeing the stories about the local families dealing with the tragedy of their loved ones coming home in a vinyl bag. I'm tired of being lied to about the reasons they are dying. I'm just tired.

As a country, we stood up in November and demanded a change. Instead, we've gotten a magnification of what we already had. If this surge isn't a call to action for anyone who loves this country and the ideas it is supposed to stand for, I don't know what is.

No comments: