"The worst of all worlds would be a small, short surge of U.S. forces. We have tried small surges, and they have been ineffective because our commanders lacked the forces necessary to hold territory after it was cleared. Violence, which fell dramatically while U.S. forces were present, spiked as soon as they were gone. Any new surge needs to provide enough American troops to hold the areas on their own.
A short surge would have all the drawbacks associated with greater deployments without giving our troops the time to be effective. Announcing that we are surging for three or six months - or any other timeline - would signal to the insurgents and militias that they can wait us out, and it would indicate to the Iraqi public that the enforcement of their government's authority will be fleeting. This would strengthen, not weaken, the power of the militias," - Senator John McCain.
I agree. But I also believe that a real surge means a minimum of 50,000 more competent, professional soldiers deployed for the indefinite future. That's a minimum for Baghdad. More will be needed subsequently, escalating to perhaps 100,000 more troops within a year. McCain, alas, commits himself to a mere minimum of 25,000. Sorry, but no deal. Anything less than 50,000 means more of the same. We also need the best speech of the president's life, if he is to persuade the American people to send young troops to rescue Iraq from the grotesque incompetence of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, and the pathologies of Muslim sectarianism. We'll see.
(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty.)