President Bushâ€™s new Iraq strategy calls for a rapid influx of forces that could add as many as 20,000 American combat troops to Baghdad, supplemented with a jobs program costing as much as $1 billion intended to employ Iraqis in projects including painting schools and cleaning streets, according to American officials who are piecing together the last parts of the initiative.
Why couldn’t he have created a jobs program for New Orleans? But pay close attention to this section:
When Mr. Bush gives his speech, he will cast much of the program as an effort to bolster Iraqâ€™s efforts to take command over their own forces and territory, the American officials said. He will express confidence that Mr. Maliki is committed to bringing under control both the Sunni-led insurgency and the Shiite militias that have emerged as the source of most of the violence. Mr. Maliki picked up those themes in a speech in Baghdad on Saturday in which he said that multinational troops would support an Iraqi effort to secure the capital. …
…The American officials who described the plan included some who said they were increasingly concerned about Mr. Malikiâ€™s intentions and his ability to deliver. They said senior Bush administration officials had been deeply disturbed by accounts from witnesses to last Saturdayâ€™s hanging of Saddam Hussein, who said they believed that guards involved in carrying out the execution were linked to the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia that is headed by Moktada al-Sadr, whose name some of the executioners shouted while Mr. Hussein stood on the gallows.
â€œIf thatâ€™s an indication of how Maliki is operating these days, weâ€™ve got a deeper problem with the bigger effort,â€ said one official, who insisted on anonymity because he was discussing internal administration deliberations over a strategy that Mr. Bush has not yet publicly announced.
Thanks to the BooMan for pointing this out.
This AP Associated Press story gives more clues to the meticulous planning and U.S. – Iraqi coordination that is going into the “Plan.”
Al-Suneid and al-Maliki insisted that this drive to contain militants, as opposed to a largely ineffective joint operation with the Americans in the second half of 2006, would succeed because it would be in the hands of Iraqi commanders who have been promised American backup and airpower if they call for it.
But U.S. political and military officials — in a message of congratulation on Iraq’s Army Day — tempered Iraqi claims of full independence.
”As stated by the prime minister today, MNF-I (U.S. forces) will provide appropriate assistance as determined by Iraqi and coalition (American) field commanders, for the implementation of the new plan for securing Baghdad and its surrounding environs,” said the statement from U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and overall American commander Gen. George W. Casey.
And, of course both Khalilzad and Gen. Casey are being replaced — see Dam Froomkin.
Back to the jobs program — Atrios writes,
In all seriousness, of course throwing huge amounts of money at Iraqis to rebuild the country is the obvious thing to do. It was such the obvious thing to do that some of us were a bit confused when we realized they weren’t doing it. Had there been a massive public works program which hired Real Live Iraqis instead of whoever the hell Halliburton was importing to do the work, and instead of painting the goddamn schools they’d managed to turn the lights on for more than a couple of hours per day there’s some chance things could’ve worked out a bit better. My opposition to the war was never based on predictions of the disaster we have now, the scope of which is at least in part due to the fact that we have drooling imbecilic ideologues who couldn’t run a lemonade stand running this thing. I’m not saying the “incompetence dodgers” have a point – the war was a horribly wrong idea for so many reasons – just that it is clear that had there not been so much incompetence things would be at least a bit better.
And just to show that there’s absolutely no hope the White House team will be any less incompetent, see Mark Benjamin in Salon:
Hawks gathered in the plush, carpeted suites of the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Friday to discuss a new course in Iraq they say should be spearheaded by tens of thousands of new troops camped out in Baghdad neighborhoods in active combat roles well into 2008.
The plan is not to be dismissed. Unlike the much ballyhooed Iraq Study Group, these are the people President Bush listens to, many of them the same influential voices who were predicting in 2002 that the war would establish a flower of democracy in the Middle East. Sitting in the overheated, standing-room-only conference hall, a Department of Homeland Security official leaned over to me to note the irony that reporters had paid so much attention to the workings of the Iraq Study Group, as opposed to the troop-surge plans being cooked up at AEI. “This is the Iraq Study Group,” he quipped.
Among those in attendance to bless the plan were Senators John McCain and, of course, Joe Lieberman.