Monday, December 18, 2006

The Political Canard

Lately there has been a lot of speculation about what to do in Iraq. It has become harder for the administration to distract the American people from this war’s uncomfortable truth. The drumbeat of blaming the press, as just too negative and partisan, has crumbled in the face of overwhelming fact. In the end, reality strikes, whether you are living in it or not.
So now, what are we to do?

John McCain has an idea, one he has had since the outset of the war. Add more troops. Senator McCain would like us to add 30,000 troops temporarily to get things under control.
Let me lay out some premises that lead to a conclusion that people may not like.

Premise #1: We have half the troops (140,000) in Iraq that we need (300,000) to control the country. I arrive at this by way of General Shinseki who made the 300,000 number clear while testifying before Congress three years ago. He was responding to the question “what do you need for troop levels in Iraq?” Since this assessment flew in the face of what the administration and the defense secretary had said publicly, General Shinseki was retired/fired post haste.

Premise #2: Congress has just changed hands to the Democrats. They are unlikely to quietly go along with higher troop levels.

Premise #3: The minority party in Congress might still be in the majority, were it not for the debacle of Iraq. They do not want to become and even more minor minority by endorsing higher troop levels.

Premise #4: The American People turned off NASCAR long enough, to cut through the smokescreen FOX News had been throwing out, and made their predilections known. They want this neo-con adventure over with.

Premise #5: The military cannot deliver the troops in a timely manner.

Analysis: So let me get this straight. John McCain wants to nominally increase troop levels, by 1/10th of what he knows is needed to do the job. He wants to do this even though it appears that both his party and the new controlling party will not go along. He wants to do this even though the American People do not want to be in Iraq anymore. He has staked out this position even though the military itself says they cannot produce this troop level for at least three months, and they are already stretched too thin. That is, it will not happen in the short term and will be a major problem in the long term. Why would John McCain take this position?

Conclusion: Senator McCain knows that troop levels will not be increased. He suspects that the situation in Iraq is so totally screwed up it cannot help but get much worse between now and the Presidential election. He wants to be able to say “if you had listened to me and increased troop levels, you would not have these ongoing problems.” You see John McCain wants to be off the hook for the mess his party has created. He cannot get off the hook if they do what he says, and things still go wrong. He must get off the hook by proposing something they will not do, so he can say “ I told you so” and run away, albatross free. Nice political solution John, but again, poor policy.

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