The eternal surge
Powerline is to Bushism what the New York Times once was to liberalism: the grey, somewhat depressed voice of the responsible establishment. So consider what Paul of Powerline has to say about the surge:
As the Washington Post said today, “if there is one indisputable truth regarding the current offensive, it is this: When large numbers of U.S. troops are funneled into areas, security improves.” However, the Post described these gains as “tenuous,” and this assessment is probably fair. The U.S. cannot maintain large numbers of troops in all contentious neighborhoods for a sustained period. Thus, we will have to depend on the Iraqis. In Anbar province, it may be that we can count on our new allies the Sunnis to deal with al Qaeda, but there’s little evidence that in Baghdad we can count on Iraqi forces even-handedly to provide security.Now look at what I said about the proposed surge in December 2006, in what was probably my longest treatment of that issue. What was the purpose of the surge, I asked.
To stabilize the situation in order to gain time to train the Iraqis to take over the job from us! That’s what it’s all about. So there’s nothing new here. As in the past, and as I’ve said a thousand times in the past, it’s not about defeating the enemy and winning the war. It’s about treading water until (sorry about the mixed metaphor) we can pass the baton to the Iraqis.I then listed a set of very likely conditions, which, I said, if any of them occurred,
then we would still end up where we are now, holding a wolf by the ears that we can neither let go of nor keep holding.And, indeed, Paul of Powerline says that despite the fact that “there’s little evidence that in Baghdad we can count on Iraqi forces even-handedly to provide security,” we must nevertheless keep up the surge, in the hope that it will “produce a stable and reasonably secure Iraq that can serve as our ally in the war on terror.” And if it doesn’t—which Paul plainly expects it will not? Paul will then doubtless say that we cannot leave, because it would result in a bloodbath. So the Bush team have the bases covered: if the surge is succeeding, we must keep our forces in Iraq to see the job through, meaning, to create an Iraq government that can stand on its own, which will take forever; and if the surge is failing, we must keep our forces in Iraq forever, to avoid a bloodbath.