MORE TROOPS….EVER MORE TROOPS….The LA Times is reporting today that Donald Rumsfeld has ordered a radical shift in miltary manpower, telling the service chiefs to reduce their dependence on reserve troops so that they can mobilize for a major war within 15 days. This is apparently a reaction to the growing problems in postwar Iraq:

Before and during the war, Army officials had planned for no more than 50,000 soldiers to still be in Iraq at this point. But 148,000 are there, and with attacks against them growing in number and sophistication, senior Pentagon officials say they expect troop numbers in the country to remain at or near the same level for years to come.

….”The type of war that we’re in, the war on terrorism, is going to be something that is going to require long-term commitments of our armed forces. And the way that we’re structured right now is to have conflicts where you send people over, they fight, and they go home,” one Pentagon official said. “The war on terrorism is a much longer, twilight struggle.”

The good news is that the Bush administration seems to be slowly accepting the fact that the neocon fantasy of liberating a joyous Iraqi population was just that ? a fantasy ? and is now showing a willingness to stick it out in Iraq in large numbers. That’s good to hear.

But the bad news is in that second paragraph: their acceptance of the difficulty of nation building doesn’t seem to have dimmed their enthusiasm for using the U.S. military to solve all the world’s problems. I realize that Republicans are supposed to be the party of steely eyed confrontation with harsh reality and all, but even so their lack of nuance these days is just scary. Got a domestic problem? Write an IOU! Got a foreign problem? Throw troops at it!

It’s pretty clear, I think, that the neocons were wrong about the ease of rebuilding Iraq and equally wrong about Iraq being the domino that would topple dictatorships throughout the Middle East. So why do they have any credibility left on their more basic contention that we can fight terrorism with regular army tactics, and the more the better? It’s baffling.

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