Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Joints Chiefs Are Opposed To Bush Administration's Surge Plan For Iraq

Wow - doesn't this put a bit of a damper in the Bush/McCain/Lieberman "Send 20,000-30,000 More Troops To Iraq" plan? The Washington Post has the story:

The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate.

Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages, the officials said.

But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.

The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.

At regular interagency meetings and in briefing President Bush last week, the Pentagon has warned that any short-term mission may only set up the United States for bigger problems when it ends. The service chiefs have warned that a short-term mission could give an enormous edge to virtually all the armed factions in Iraq -- including al-Qaeda's foreign fighters, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias -- without giving an enduring boost to the U.S military mission or to the Iraqi army, the officials said.

The Pentagon has cautioned that a modest surge could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeal for more foreign fighters to flock to Iraq to attack U.S. troops, the officials said.

The informal but well-armed Shiite militias, the Joint Chiefs have also warned, may simply melt back into society during a U.S. surge and wait until the troops are withdrawn -- then reemerge and retake the streets of Baghdad and other cities.

Even the announcement of a time frame and mission -- such as for six months to try to secure volatile Baghdad -- could play to armed factions by allowing them to game out the new U.S. strategy, the chiefs have warned the White House.

The Post article goes on to say that there can be no larger military deployment for a longer amount of time because the Pentagon does not have the troop numbers.

So now we have both former Joint Chief/former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the current Joint Chiefs publicly opposing a a temporary troop surge of 15,000-30,000.

Surely that doesn't help the administration when an LA Times/Bloomberg poll finds that only 12% of Americans support the Bush administration's troop surge plan (CNN finds only 11% support the plan.)

In fact, I think the administration has even lost one of their biggest apologists in Congress - Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI). When asked on CNN this morning whether he supported the Bush administration's troop surge plan for Iraq or shared the concerns of Powell and the current Joint Chiefs that additional U.S. troops will not help, Hoekstra said (and I'm paraphrasing):

"According to the latest pentagon report, the biggest problem in Iraq now is not Al Qaeda, it's the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia. It's the Shiite militias. I just don't see how more U.S. troops can help solve those problems. The Iraqi forces themselves are going to have to step up to handle the sectarian violence and carnage."

If the administration has lost a hack like Hoestrka and only 11%-12% of Americans support the troop surge plan, how are Congressional Republicans - already worried that the Iraq war is going to do to them in 2008 what it did to them in the 2006 elections - going to back the preznit's troops surge plan?

And I realize incoming Senate Majority leader Harry Reid kinda sorta backed the surge plan on Sunday, but Reid basically said he supported it only if it made military sense. With the former and current Joint Chiefs both opposing the plan as currently constituted, Reid should now say "I leave the military decisions to the generals, and with the generals firmly opposed to a troop surge, I have to oppose the administration's plan as well."

None of this means Preznit Bush still won't send 20,000-30,000 more troops to Iraq. Remember, he has told us that he is "The Decider" and he doesn't care if everybody but the twins, laura and Barney are opposed to his Iraq policies - he will "decide" what he wants to do based on his feelings alone.

Which means we may get the troop surge that the Pentagon doesn't want and that experienced military men say might actually make things worse for the U.S. military and the Iraqi government overall.

But it's not only McCain, the twins and Lieberman. It's McCain, the twins, Lieberman and nosallps.
None of this means Preznit Bush still won't send 20,000-30,000 more troops to Iraq.

Well if his polls are any indication, he damn well shouldn't. The Deciderer has dropped another 6% since the GOP blew the midterms, and most of it--at least according to the pundits--is due to his stubborness over the ISG report.

As you point, Bush has 2008 in his hands.
There's a lot of befuddlement in the Pentagon these days. It's like wondering if they found a rope or lost a horse. While it's kind of embarrassing, it also paints the true picture of what is going on.

Pardon my intrusion of changing topic, but if you ever go over to my blog you'll see that the last two posts have nothing to do with my usual topic, so check it out if you have the time. Music, and a hot chick. No turning back on this.
Is it not possible that Bush's advocating a course in Iraq that is so outrageous as to draw virtually unanimous condemnation is the political equivalent of a head fake? Later on, when whatever course he actually takes leaves the situation even worse off than before, he can claim, "See, you wouldn't let me do what I believed would work, and things went in the toilet -- IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT.

Don't for a moment think the Rove machine isn't that devious.
You are right, technical guy! I forgot to mention Bush has nosallps support.

kicks iron, you bring up a good point. But for a while, I though the surge position that McCain was pushing was a head fake for the '08 primaries, so what the heck do I know?

Steve, will all these retirements at the pentagon change anything? It sounds like Pace, Abizaid, and a few others are going to be gone by March.

kvatch, did you ever think he'd lose the election, be even more unpopular than before and still be pulling his stubborn-ass "Decider" shit? It must be great to be Bush - he lives in a world where only he matters.
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