Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

DOUBLE, DOUBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE….This is an obvious point to make, but I want to make it anyway. Just in case there’s anyone who doesn’t know this.

Surge discussions often go something like this: At the beginning of the year we had 132,000 troops in Iraq. Now we have 160,000. That’s only a 20% increase in troop strength, and it’s ridiculous to think that such a small increase could have a serious effect on the country.

But that’s exactly backwards. The surge was always intended primarily to target Baghad, and in Baghdad U.S. troop strength approximately doubled, from 17,000 to 34,000. Frankly, with an increase like that, you’d expect some pretty tangible results.

And yet, at best, we’ve seen only a modest drop in violence in Baghdad. So what we’re seeing is not a case of too few troops to make a difference. It’s worse. We increased troop numbers dramatically and deployed them more effectively, and it still barely made a noticeable difference.

That’s the depth of the problem we’re dealing with: even doubling our troop presence and utilizing them properly hasn’t had much effect on security in Iraq — and it hasn’t had any effect on the political situation. Given this, does anyone seriously think that a mere six additional months of the surge will change the underlying dynamics in Iraq enough to have made a permanent difference? Really?