Petraeus has now given this charade a further lease on life. In effect, he is allowing the president and the Congress to continue dodging the main issue, which comes down to this: if the civilian leadership wants to wage a global war on terror and if that war entails pacifying Iraq, then let’s get serious about providing what’s needed to complete the mission—starting with lots more soldiers. Rather than curtailing the ostensibly successful surge, Petraeus should broaden and deepen it. That means sending more troops to Iraq, not bringing them home. And that probably implies doubling or tripling the size of the United States Army on a crash basis.
If the civilian leadership is unwilling to provide what’s needed, then all of the talk about waging a global war on terror—talk heard not only from the president but from most of those jockeying to replace him—amounts to so much hot air. Critics who think the concept of the global war on terror is fundamentally flawed will see this as a positive development. Once we recognize the global war on terror for the fraudulent enterprise that it has become, then we can get serious about designing a strategy to address the threat that we actually face, which is not terrorism but violent Islamic radicalism. The antidote to Islamic radicalism, if there is one, won’t involve invading and occupying places like Iraq.
Bacevich's point is that if succeeding in Iraq is really very important, and if Petraeus really thinks the US has found effective tactics that are helping to build toward success, then why isn't he demanding more troops so that we could actually surge up to the sort of force levels that history suggests are necessary for this sort of thing. The answer is that "if he had done otherwise—if he had asked, say, to expand the surge by adding yet another 50,000 troops—he would have distressed just about everyone back in Washington." Petraeus' job, however, was to do precisely the reverse -- to shore up congressional Republican support for George W. Bush's efforts to ensure that a large US military presence in Iraq is there when his successor takes office.
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