Pentagon's plan: More U.S. troops in Iraq
WASHINGTON — As President Bush weighs new policy options for Iraq, strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to "double down" in the country with a substantial buildup in American troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government.Bush gambled his entire presidency on his mis-adventure in Iraq and he's not ready to give it all up.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff will present their assessment and recommendations to Bush at the Pentagon today. Military officials, including some advising the chiefs, have argued that an intensified effort may be the only way to get the counterinsurgency strategy right and provide a chance for victory.
The approach overlaps somewhat a course promoted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). But the Pentagon proposals add several features, including the confrontation with Sadr, a possible renewed offensive in the Sunni stronghold of Al Anbar province, a large Iraqi jobs program and a proposal for a long-term increase in the size of the military.
Such an option would appear to satisfy Bush's demand for a strategy focused on victory rather than disengagement. It would disregard key recommendations and warnings of the Iraq Study Group, however, and provide little comfort for those fearful of a long, open-ended U.S. commitment in the country.
Such a proposal, military officials and experts caution, would be a gamble. Any chance of success probably would require major changes in the Iraqi government, they said. U.S. Embassy officials would have to help usher into power a new coalition in Baghdad that was willing to confront the militias. And the strategy also would require more U.S. spending to increase the size of the U.S. military and for an Iraqi jobs program.Of course the Pentagon is telling the Administration they will need an increase in manpower to do this. The new congress will not go along with this without rolling back some of the tax cuts for Bush's super rich friends. Of course the ability to get a meaningful increase in manpower on board in time is not there and in fact it's too late period - Iraq is already too far gone. In addition to the hundreds and thousands that are going to be killed or injured this is bad news for John McCain who is going to get what he wants and will look really bad when it doesn't work.
Yes Bush is about to raise the ante one more time and this really is the go for broke moment. Daddy's friend, James Baker III tried to give him an exit but the Adolescent in Chief won't take it. With 2008 approaching this will be his final bet. There will be a lot more Gordon Smith's six months from now.