We Vote for the "Plus Down"

The DoD is now using the term “plus up” instead of surge …

More troops for Iraq? Time to just say “No”
by Carl Conetta
Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #39
09 January 2007

Can a marginal increase in the US troop presence in Iraq pave a new way forward? Or is it a detour — a marginal diversion from our present, failed course?

Even if we were to accept, at this late date, that our troubles in Iraq are due to our having invested too few bodies, why should we believe that a small increment can turn the tide?

These are among the questions raised by the Bush administration’s new initiative and they point to a more fundamental one:

What is the problem that has bedeviled the US effort in Iraq for nearly four years?

Few outside the administration would contest that the mission’s “measurables” are miserable. The progress in Iraq reconstruction has been glacial and the security situation has steadily deteriorated, despite a great expenditure of time, money, and lives. But why? Critics have variously targeted the administration’s strategy, planning, priories, and level of effort — which suggests that there might be a better way. And, indeed, the administration now claims to have discovered one.

In fact, there is no way forward that does not lead out. This, because the mission itself is founded on strategic error. The error resides not simply in the administration’s “strategy for victory” in Iraq but, more broadly, in its national security strategy. It is evident as well in the President’s rejection of what is best in the Iraq Study Group report: the proposal to diplomatically engage Syria and Iran regarding the Iraq prospect. Indeed, the President’s proposal to pump-up Operation Iraqi Freedom with more money and troops is a direct counter-point to the diplomatic path.

Read the rest here.

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