Friday, December 02, 2005

AJC: Time to face reality

Atlanta Journal Constitution editorializes on Bush's "plan":

"I will settle for nothing less than complete victory."

— President George W. Bush, Nov. 30, 2005
"From the beginning, the fatal flaw in President Bush's strategy in Iraq has been the gaping chasm between its grand ambitions and the very limited resources that he was willing to commit to realizing those ambitions.

Judging from the president's speech Wednesday, that chasm has grown only larger over time, with profound implications for our national security and for our men and women in uniform.


In Iraq, a disordered society in which we are pursuing 'ambitious goals involving lasting cultural change,' that standard translates into 560,000 troops. If we were serious as a nation about completing the mission in Iraq, we could conceivably field that many people — we deployed roughly that many in Vietnam, for instance.

But in Iraq, we have never come close to fielding that number of personnel, which goes a long way in explaining why conditions continue to deteriorate.

Given that reality, the president's suggestion Wednesday that we may be able to substantially reduce our already insufficient deployment next year, while still demanding 'nothing less than complete victory,' is either delusional or grossly deceptive. His claim that Iraqi military units will be ready to step up and fill that vacuum merely extends the fantasy. By almost all independent assessments, the bulk of Iraqi units are years away from becoming effective military forces, and even then they would probably be enlisted by one side or the other in the civil war now erupting in Iraq.

In effect, we have committed an undersized military force to an oversized mission they cannot possibly accomplish. It is great testimony to the patriotism and professionalism of our armed forces that they have nonetheless pursued that assignment without complaint and with great passion and discipline.

But over the long haul — and we are now more than three years into this occupation, with no apparent end in sight — that puts a terrible stress on personnel, equipment, morale and family life. A long string of retired military officers with high rank has warned we risk breaking our military by continued deployment at these levels.


If President Bush and members of his administration are unwilling to engage in such a reassessment — if this rhetoric truly is delusional rather than merely deceptive — Congress may be forced to step in, using its powers of oversight and appropriation more aggressively to force a change of policy.

And if Congress proves unwilling or unable to perform its constitutional duty as a check on the executive, then we need a new Congress."


Post a Comment

<< Home