Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are right oppose increasing the number of troops we have in Iraq... but for somewhat of the wrong reason.

They're not wrong that raising the number of troops is a proposal borne out of Bush's desperation to be seen as doing something different... or that there is no real plan for utlizing these troops in a productive way... or that logistical reasons (whatever they are) preclude us from pulling it off.

There are two reasons for opposing increasing the number of troops.

First, as I have said and will continue to say, American troops should not be asked to sacrifice themselves in order to prevent Iraqis from killing other Iraqis... and the fewer American troops in Iraq, the fewer casualties we will suffer.

Second, more troops are not needed to quell the violence. There are already more than enough US troops in Iraq to pretty much put an end to the violence.... it's just that the Bush Administration and the Pentagon aren't using the troops already there in the most productive way.

No, I'm not talking about the proposals to embed more US troops with Iraqi units or the suggestion that US troops should focus more on training Iraqi troops to do the fighting themselves.

What I am suggesting is that our military adopt the tactics that have been used successfully in the past to quell violence of the sort taking place in Iraq... in fact, these tactics have been used to keep things under control in Iraq itself.

And the tactics that have been proven to work?

The tactics that Hussein used to keep things under control. Hussein had fewer qualified soldiers under his command than do US commanders, yet he never experienced violence anywhere near the sorts that is going on now.

Why? Because he made sure those engaged in violence, as well as those who supported the violence, as well as those who were planning violence, as well as those merely thinking about violence paid a steep price for not behaving. Hussein didn't make his security forces worry about 'collateral damage', nor did he worry about being 'insufficiently sensitive' to the feelings of the Iraqis.

And we don't. We don't shoot those we suspect of being bad guys, we merely 'detain' them for a while then let them go. We don't shoot at bad guys who are trying to kill us if the bad guy is hiding among 'civilians' or in a mosque, a hospital or a school. We let them shoot at us and get away.

Nor do we punish their supporters. We don't bulldoze the houses of the families of those trying to kill us. We don't sell their sisters into slavery or prostitution. We don't cut off the hands of their fathers and mothers.

Quibble about the details all you want... but it is silly to argue that we're doing all we can to quell the violence. It's not that we need more troops, it's that we need to give the troops we already have in Iraq the freedom and flexibility to do what is necessary to make people think twice before they come after us.