A prime indicator that Bush's troop escalation is, in part, a politically motivated maneuver in response to the November election results is the obvious lack of actual readiness the US military is demonstrating in getting the extra troops into Baghdad.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said he is investigating whether he can speed the pace of the troop buildup. But a senior Pentagon official said this week that it was unlikely that U.S. troops could be sent to Baghdad any faster than planned. The five brigades going to the capital are due to arrive one per month, with the last coming in May.We already know that commanding generals opposed the surge, as did the Joint Chiefs, and certainly did not or refused to anticipate that escalation would become official policy. How wrong they were. But political considerations have had a way of imposing themselves on the military in the age of Bush.
So far, 3,000 U.S. troops and about 2,000 Iraqi counterparts have arrived here, according to U.S. officials. "I will be surprised if we can generate forces faster," said the senior official. Speeding the movement of U.S. forces into Baghdad would require a cut in training time, he said — a move resisted by Army officials.
That the "surge" is politically motivated is beyond dispute. Most everyone recognizes that the 21,000 troops are insufficient to achieve the stated goals or that they will simply add fuel to the fire that is Iraq. What the "surge" really represents is the appearance of a change in policy when, in fact, it is no such thing. It is simply "stay the course" with a pretty little bow of more is better. The November elections were the final repudiation of "stay the course" and the White House recognized that the appearance of a different course was required, though there had been no desire on the part of the administration to actually change anything. The minor influx of troops, clearly a stretch for an already stretched military, is nothing more than a simulacrum of change. Because while the administration and its supporters have constantly claimed that announcing any troop withdrawals would "embolden the enemy" by making them aware of troop movement, it is apparently perfectly reasonable for the White House to loudly announce troop movement in advance of this surge. Troop surges in Baghdad have occurred before without much ballyhoo and have usually had the opposite effect of what was presumably intended. But this one is different for at least two reasons: looks and the known effect that more troops bring to the scene.
The Bush administration, with its goals of attacking Iran and securing the passage of the maligned Iraqi Oil Law, clearly benefits from the extant chaos in Iraq. It is a condition that allows them to trumpet Iranian misfeasance without actual evidence and to get the egregious Oil Law passed by an Iraqi parliament that is itself in chaos. Bush recently indicated the urgency of a new oil law, to the applause of House Democrats, who are either miraculously clueless about the oil law or are fully behind what it really represents.
They've got to pass an oil law. They've got to amend their constitution so that all segments of that society feel that the government is for them.Actually, the oil law and constitutional amendments that would allow the semi-privatization of the Iraqi oil industry are not at all about making Iraqis "feel the government is for them." The law is, first and foremost, about opening Iraqi oil fields to western oil interests. While there still appears to be major obstacles within Iraq to this oil law, a troop surge and the expected heightened level of mayhem that such a move is likely to induce will only serve to press Iraqis on the issue of oil control. And it may further an already chaotic environment that allows the White House to make yet more claims of Iranian involvement.
Anyone thinking that this troop surge is about calming the situation in Baghdad will be sorely mistaken. It is about appearing to be a different "strategy," while actually escalating the violence and creating an environment ripe for exploitation.