The Iraq War: A Suspect Plot & A Disingenuous Script genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

To Laugh Or To Cry?

When it became apparent that the war effort in Iraq was going to take far longer than anticipated, a debate ensued as to whether or not the strategy employed from the outset was sufficient. Early on in that debate, several observers as well as one high ranking active duty officer, General Shinseki, suggested that we lacked the necessary troop levels to win the peace. Shinseki and others argued that we would need at least 300,000 troops to achieve some progressive level of order in Iraq.

Time and again, the President, Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and other members of the administration routinely dismissed criticism and the calls for more troops. At the time, they argued that we were building an Iraqi military that would soon “stand up so we could stand down". Time and again, the number of fully trained Iraqi forces has been modified. One most recent assessment suggests that just over 6,000 Iraqi soldiers are capable of functioning fully independent of U.S. oversight…which then led to arguments about the definition of independent.

I recall that before the 2004 presidential election, the administration touted that the Iraqi security forces numbered nearly 200,000…though it was never clear if they were fully trained to assume the primary role in policing the country…and the number seemed to change from day to day. John Kerry suggested that we focus on training these forces as soon as possible in order to facilitate the reduction of American troops…and the president countered that those efforts were already underway and progressing as expected.

The most recent assessment states that the Iraqi security forces now number 337,000…of which 143,000 comprise the Iraqi military and 194,000 are members of the Iraqi police force. Discussions are also underway to increase the total security force to 365,000 by the end of the year.

While I’m no mathematician, when one takes a look at the chronology of the increasing numbers of Iraqi security forces along with the recent surge of American forces in comparison to the level of insurgent and sectarian violence, something just doesn’t add up.

If General Shinseki was wrong, then the Iraqi security force alone exceeds the number of troops the administration ever believed would be needed to prosecute our efforts in Iraq. The combined security forces in Iraq now number right at 500,000…far greater than the number the administration ever stated would be needed and well beyond the number that led to Shinseki’s forced resignation. At the same time, there is speculation that the U.S. troop surge could soon approach 200,000 American soldiers.

The only conclusions one can draw from this recent information…along with the four plus years of ever changing rationales…is that we are still being fed inaccurate assessments by an administration that places more weight on reconstructing its rhetoric than restoring security and rebuilding a functional Iraq.

If our efforts in Iraq were a theatrical production, it would no doubt have been billed as an epic tale of good versus evil…but the reviews would be more apt to characterize it as a poorly crafted and executed dramatic offering turned farcical comedy…one that left the audience scratching its collective head while wondering if it should succumb to satirically inspired laughter or simply acquiesce to the tears that are born of the Bush administration’s propensity and pattern of offering the far more familiar and formulaic tragedy.

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Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2007 | 11:25 AM
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