Wednesday, January 10, 2007


To Surge, With Love*

Paul Roberts -- a former Reagan administration official and an avowed "anti-war conservative" -- speculates that all the talk over the "surge" is really just so much noise to "distract" the public from the real focus: Iran.

In fact, Roberts is only partly right: Iraq is, in many ways, already in the administration's rear-veiw mirror: Iran is the central policy concern right now -- as the recent military leadership changes suggest. Thus, the surge is not really a "distraction," as such. But by committing only 20,000 troops (as if there were more to send out), it is a temporary band-aid while broader strategic moves are put into place, as Ralph Peters explores here).

Furthermore, as the ongoing developments in Somalia show, a commander-in-chief has remarkable options at his disposal. The Democratic Congress had better realize what is going on here. Ted Kennedy can give his full-throated opposition to the surge all he wants. There is greater U.S.-sparked movement on the "War on Terror" chessboard than, arguably, at any point since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq invasion. It is Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan and more.

As far as the Iraq portion goes, I can't say that I am exactly optimistic. I'll be listening closely to the president's speech tonight, but from the early details leaked, it seems that there is definite decision on how to get the Sunni and Shiite forces to agree to run the country together.

As long as Prime Minister Maliki chooses to take orders for Moqtada al-Sadr (rather than the other way around), U.S. forces will continue fighting with one arm tied behind their backs -- trying to figure out which way the bullets are coming from and where all the IEDs are planted.

*Sorry it took me so long to drop that awful pun.

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