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    10 August 2006

    Major neocon calls for a change in course in Iraq

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    The cabal of the neocon has seen better days. Prominent members have pulled out, as in the case of Francis Fukuyama. The American Enterprise Institute placed blame for Iraq at the door of the White House rather than their office, where it originated, indicating the last throes of failed policy.

    Today, joining the ranks of pundits like Tom Friedman, politicians like Chuck Hagel, and US soldiers who have made calls for a strategy shift or withdrawal in Iraq. Prominent neocon Max Boot calls the situation in Iraq since the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra a "...civil war in which Shiite and Sunni militias are equally culpable" in yesterdays LA Times. Mr. Boot notes several instances where Generals requested reinforcements and experts advised reinforcements - beginning in 2004 - but were either ignored outright or only a fraction of what they requested was supplied. To this end Boot concludes: "If Bush thinks that a force this size can secure a city of more than 6 million people, he's not listening to the best professional military advice." Adding that moving troops around rather than more troops in is a faulty policy. He quotes a military official, "[y]ou can't do clear-and-hold with the force structure we have."

    Boot comes to two conclusion, one that may/should seem quite similar to another plan I've spoken of a lot on these pages.
    But there's another course short of withdrawal: reducing U.S. forces from today's level of 130,000 to under 50,000 and changing their focus from conducting combat operations to assisting Iraqi forces. The money saved from downsizing the U.S. presence could be used to better train and equip more Iraqi units. A smaller U.S. commitment also would be more sustainable over the long term. This is the option favored within the U.S. Special Forces community, in which the dominant view is that most American soldiers in Iraq, with their scant knowledge of the local language and customs, are more of a hindrance than a help to the counterinsurgency effort.

    This is quite similar to plans proposed by the Center for American Progress, and Democratic lawmakers.

    The other solution is to put the necessary forces into Iraq, as we should have done long ago. He suggests
    A couple of divisions in Baghdad, if skillfully led, might be able to replicate the success that Col. H.R. McMaster's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment had in pacifying the western city of Tall Afar, where the troops-to-civilians ratio was 10 times higher than in Baghdad today.

    Boot concludes that he is open to either, but favors the latter.
    But at this point, I am also open to a substantial reduction in troop numbers because the current strategy just isn't working.

    Bush needs to do something radical to shake up a deteriorating status quo if we are to have any hope of averting the worst American military defeat since Vietnam.

    Right wing bloggers and politicians alike have attacked this plan as cut 'n run. Will they attack one of their own? No. They are hypocrites.

    I went over to our local Palmetto Neocon to see what they had to say. Surprise, nothing. I don’t even think they know what a neocon is. Search the site and not one mention of the name 'Kristol'. I'm more of a neocon than them.

    Posted by Geoff

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