Just Enough Troops To Lose


My preference is for a draw-down of troops in Shiite and Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, a redeployment to Kurdistan where they like us and whence we can keep an eye on any egregious terrorist activities in Anbar, and a much bigger force presence in Baghdad to prevent the capital from imploding. If the Shiite militias want to fight it out for control of Southern Iraq, fine. At least then we may have a victor we can actually talk to, instead the mellifluous Maliki. But - surprise! - the Bush administration is likely to do what it has long done: pick the worst of both worlds. We won't get the advantage of a clean or decisive break from the past, and we won't send enough troops to Baghdad:

While the White House reviews its strategy options, Pentagon planners are also looking beyond the immediate reinforcements for Baghdad to the question of whether they will need to draw more on reserve units to meet troop requirements in the Iraqi capital, military officials said. In particular, the Army is considering sending about 3,000 combat engineers from reserve units.

The proposal would not increase the overall number of troops in Baghdad, but it is controversial because it would require sending units that had already been deployed to Iraq in recent years, a step National Guard officials have been trying to avoid.

So no real attempt to gain control of Baghdad. Have we even found the captured US soldier yet? Or has he been abandoned for good? Meanwhile, we'll keep talking pointlessly to the "right guy," Maliki. Why? To save this president's face. I don't believe any American soldier's life is worth sacrificing for one deluded man's self-esteem, do you?

(Photo: Brooks Kraft/Corbis for Time.)