Saturday, December 16, 2006

Please Sir, can I have some more...troops?


Congratulations to Bill Richardson for calling out McCain for wanting to escalate in Iraq. I think the left-wing noise machine has got to start hammering "St. John" now, and this deeply unpopular war is an important issue on which to do so. (UPDATE: Atrios has been saying this for quite some time, and does so again here.)

As far as policy goes, I think this adding 20,000-50,000 more troops plan is stupid. According to the New York Times, we have about 17,000 troops "actively involved in the effort to secure Baghdad". A cursory Google scan puts Baghdad's population around 6-7 million people. This gives a ratio of troops to population of about 1:350. Adding even 50,000 more troops (and this is probably more than is presently possible) would improve that ratio to about 1:90. But according to this RAND review (and they can hardly be accused of being pacifist surrender-monkeys, although I'm sure they have been), past successful counterinsurgency operations have had a ratio of 1:50 or better (and I think Baghdad is now worse than Northern Ireland ever was, though I don't know for sure).

So even if Bush, McCain, and Lieberman somehow squeeze 50,000 more troops out of our already over-taxed military, they will still only have slightly more than half the troops they need to have a decent shot at providing stability. It's "just enough to lose" all over again. Of course, these numbers don't include any Iraqi police, army, or militia. But from what I understand, these Iraqi units are often part of the security problem, rather than forces of stability. So I don't think they can be counted.

I find it hard to believe that this adding more troops idea is getting any political traction at all. The American public is against it, if recent polling is to be believed. I don't see any strategic reason why it would work. McCain and Lieberman are just as deluded as Bush when it comes to the Occupation. I hawk a big loogie of disrespect on their alleged "centrism" and "moderation". They have their good qualities, to be sure. But recently they've been behaving like grasping hacks, toying with other people's lives for their own political benefit. Enough of them.

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