Sunday, January 07, 2007

Not a "surge" in any sense of the word

The New York Times buries the lede in a Sunday story which quotes unnamed government officials about Bush's plan for a "surge" in troops to restore order in Baghdad.

We have heard and read much of this in various outlets since NBC's Jim Miklaszewski presented the first credible news story about the plan on Tuesday. The Times advances the story with information about a plan to augment the troop "surge" with as much as $1 billion to put Iraqis to work on reconstruction projects, and some sort of arrangement which requires the Iraqi "army" to commit troops of its own to the endeavor.

But the real news, buried deep in the original version of the story (which I read in the print paper) is this little nugget:

An increase of 20,000 troops would add significantly to the total now assigned to Baghdad, though the phased escalation being planned by the Bush administration would take several months to carry out, the officials said. They would not say specifically whether the American troop increase would be carried out if the Iraqis failed to make good on their commitment to add to their own ranks, but they emphasized that the American influx could be re-evaluated at any point.
This passage has been scrubbed from the story on, but it still exists in the version on the International Herald Tribune website.

It is disturbing that the Times would eliminate this information from its online story, as it represents the most significant piece of news about Bush's plan to escalate the war in Iraq. What it reveals is that the so-called surge is nothing of the kind. Bush's plan is nothing more than an effort to throw more fresh bodies into the meat grinder in the hope that something positive will come from it. One does not "surge" in increments over a period of several months. Any benefit that might be gained from "surging" overwhelming forces into the streets of Baghdad, questionable to begin with, will be lost.

This news seems to cofirm earlier reports that the Pentagon has told the White House that it simply does not have tens of thousands of additional troops to send to Iraq. This was reported by CBS News, via Think Progress:

CBS’s David Martin has learned military commanders told the President they could execute a ‘troop surge’ of 9,000 soldiers and Marines into Iraq, with another 10,000 on alert in Kuwait and the U.S. Two army brigades — about 7,500 troops — would go into Baghdad in an effort to control the violence, clearing neighborhoods and staying long enough for reconstruction projects to take effect.
Bush is flailing. Despite whatever comes out of his mouth this week, there is no new plan, no "New Way Forward" that will result in a stable and secure Iraq. The war is over. There is nothing left but a deteriorating occupation and an insurgency that we cannot put down, even if the president manages to scrape up 20,000 more Americans for Iraqi target practice.