The Washington Post reports:
Conventional wisdom informs us that the nascent plan for a troop "surge" is not a strategy to win but a tactic to not lose. Readers of this blog will not be surprised by the reports coming out of Crawford. Earlier this month we revealed a confidential memo from the Secretary of Defense to the President of the United States outlining his recommendations - edited excerpts here:
"One idea gaining currency in the administration is to send between 15,000 and 30,000 additional troops to Iraq, at least on a temporary basis, to help improve security, but there are questions among senior military leaders about how effective this move would be...The political component of the emerging Bush package would set up benchmarks for long-overdue steps, such as amending the constitution to help address the objections of Iraq's Sunni minority and dismantling 23 predominantly Shiite militias. But it is unclear whether the Iraqi government would go along with such milestones... In brief comments to reporters here, the president made clear that the focus of his review is to strengthen the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which has been struggling to quell militia violence and bring about political reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites. "The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that's willing to deal with the elements there that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding," Bush said. "We want to help them succeed."
"We should not even rule out, as part of the strategy, changing key subordinates in the US Government to meet the charge that "Washington is tired and Washington is stale."... Not to panic because of a belief that the enemy must be made to capitulate before the elections. No one's proposal achieves that end.... Move the newly elected government to a political settlement... a settlement to transform military opponents to political opponents... Limit force increases to no more than 30,000... concentrate on the infiltration routes.. improve the negotiating environment within a limited deployment of US forces by combining continuous attacks with slow improvements in pacification (which may follow the new constitution, the national reconciliation proclamation, our added efforts ... ) The strategy ... is based on their belief that we are in a military situation that cannot be changed materially by expanding our military effort, that the politico-pacification situation will improve but not fast... this course implies a conviction that neither military defeat nor military victory is in the cards... Their government might collapse under the strain. We would then have to decide whether to snip a piece of stem, plant it, nurture it, and start over again, or to force a compromise under our own auspices."
As I write this post, CNN announces Saddam is dead and is broadcasting video of Iraqi's dancing in the street. Good. The butcher is gone. The regime is irrevocably changed. There is no WMD threat in Iraq. The military objective that was the justification for the occupation is accomplished. Yet, we still await a new plan for Peace with Honor from our President, that will apparently assure at least two more years of involvement indistinguishable from where we are today. "Stay the course" by any other name, will smell as bad.
Confidential memo from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to President Lyndon Johnson:
"Subject: Future Actions in Vietnam - May 19, 1967"