David Sanger writs in tomorrow’s New York Times,
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.
How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
Well, it is nice to know that “senior administration officials” seem to be able to recognize that militia lynching party for what it was, but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in that it makes their plan seem even stupider than it already was. How many times can my mind boggle again at their incompetence? It seems relentless.
It’s also nice they’re getting around to the idea of a public works program. They’re only about 4 years too late.
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I think that going foward we’ll discover that all answers lie in doing exactly the opposite of anything Bush comes up with.
in other words, the plan is to exterminate the Sunnis in Baghdad, with Iraqi commanders telling the US where to bomb. Then the US can express befuddlement that our “allies” were simply bent on exterminating the opposition. Cue to Condi:
“no one could have predicted that such an outcome…”
What’s really puzzling is why Bush is so hell-bent in his animosity towards Iran, when, purely as a practical matter, he seems bent on policies that will effectively extend Shi’a domination of the region.
I see Bush as a Harding or a Grant type – he believes what he is told, and doesn’t even realize that he is in a bubble. But, below him, there are clearly people who don’t believe at all, who just see this whole exercise as a means to steal the public’s money. Consider the point Atrios raises. The Iraqi army was 200 to 300,000 people. I was told by an Iraqi that an Army officer made about $ 20,000 US per year. So, for $ 6 billion we could have hired the entire freaking Iraqi army, at officers salaries, made them into a “reconstruction core,” and at least have had a chance in not having an insurgency. I am sure that full time civil servants could have come up with even better ideas.
Why wasn’t this done ? Because the second tier in the Bush administration is full of con-men and grifters who, if they see a chance to grab the dough, will go for it. (Or send it to their friends, who they know will reward them later.)
So – the tens of billions allocated to Iraqi recovery was mostly stolen – some legally, some by outright theft, no doubt a lot by “grey” schemes of doubtful legality. And the same will happen to any new funds.
I hope that the new Congress goes after the money. There is a generation of dirt there, waiting to be excavated into the light of day.
According to the Washington Post it could be as few as 4,000 troops. Doing all 20,000 could take until May. And now McCain is saying it’s needs to be more, and for at least 18 months.
Looks to me like Shrubby is saying “No one tells me what to do!” (and then discovers that turnip juice isn’t blood), while McCain will be running on “They lost China” re-re-re-dux.
Personally, I could use a jobs program for the million or so tech employees whose jobs have been outsourced, but Katrina victims should absolutely be first in line.
I see Bush as a Harding or a Grant type
Harding, yes, but nobody badmouths General Grant on my blog. 🙂
Harding pardoned Eugene V. Debs. Could you see Georgie doing something like that, something that called for a smidgen of grace, or class? Nope– Junior’s a snotty, no-good punk, even compared to Harding.
Where’s the puke bag?
Why not just put “Dept of Foreign Policy” out in front of the AEI and be done with it. The same crowd that dicked the invasion and the CPA ( can’t provide anything) is going to jump up and save us now? Fat chance.
Jonatahan in #5 hit on a huge point. Shiite domination on Iraq is not in our national interest. Georgie may have decided Shiite victory is inevitable and wants to finish on the side of the victor, but it still won’t serve the interests of the US. Any governemnet that emerges in Iraq is going ot be hostile to the US.
The Shiite majority in Iraq natually aligns Iraq with Iran, also Shiite. That alliance may put the resources of the southern oil fields in the hands of Shiites bent on developing the bomb, and eliminating Israel. It gets uglier.
On the other side, Sunis in Saudi Arabia are getting restless over the ethnic cleansing of Sunis. Our VP reportedly got a message in Nov. from the Saudis when he visited. If we don’t curb the genocide, they may get involved. Even if we turn a blind eye to genocide, ‘stability’ won’t result, because the Sunis worldwide won’t sit on the sidelines.
Arab nations who lean Suni have got to be nervous about the resources of a trilateral alliance Iran, Iraq and Syria. Whether we support al Maliki (and genocide) or withdraw, this situatiuon has the dynamic energy to become a huge regional conflict involving a half-dozen countries.
Europe is even more dependent on mid-east oil than we are; expect a lot of pressure from the EU & UN if their access to oil is threatened.
The escalation of troops is an attempt to put a lid on a huge powder keg with a very short fuse. There are 2 other options –
1) withdraw and leave chaos. or
2) adopt a derivative of the ISG where the interested parties with competing objectives pool their resources to stabilize Iraq and give up individual ambitions to regional domination, to avoid a total meltdown.