A major in the Marine reserves writes a guest op-ed in today’s New York Times in favor of the surge, he argues toward the following rhyme scheme:
>The idea is that, starting this fall, the Iraqi units would bulk up so the American units could begin to break up, moving to an advisory model in which the number of American soldiers embedded with Iraqi units triples while the overall United States force declines. Today many American patrols operate independently. In a year’s time, ideally, no American patrol would leave its base without a fully integrated Iraqi presence.
Fair enough, but that seems to me like the warmed over stand up/down view. But back to how he makes the case. Two things I think are worth noting.
First, the confusion of the war in Iraq with the war some kind of war against expansionist ideologues:
>The two Congressional votes last week establishing timelines for withdrawing American troops completely undermined such assurances. The confusion stems from an inherent contradiction in our politics: Though the burden of war is shouldered by few, the majority of Americans want to vacate Iraq, and the percentages are increasing. Something has to give.
>We’re four years into a global conflict that will span generations, fighting virulent ideologues obsessed with expansion. It’s time for those who are against the war in Iraq to consider the probable military consequences of withdrawal. But it is also time for supporters of the war to step back and recognize that public opinion in great part dictates our martial options.
Others say we’re in the midst of a civil war in Iraq. And the fight against the other guys–the big trash talking guys bent on expansionism, is another fight of another type. Worse than that, they argue that our presence in Iraq, however well-intentioned, does naught but give the trash-talking expansionists reason to enlist more into their terrorist enterprise. Iraq, after all, is a mostly Shiite country, al Qaeda is a Sunni terrorist movement; the Sunnis aren’t going to take over Iraq.
Second, support the troops:
>It’s hard for a soldier like me to reconcile a political jab like Senator Harry Reid’s “this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything” when it’s made in front of a banner that reads “Support Our Troops.” But the politician’s job is different from the soldier’s. Mr. Reid’s belief — that the best way to support the troops is by acknowledging defeat and pulling them out of Iraq — is likely shared by a large slice of the population, which gives it legitimacy.
Yet another reason to dump the now ironic phrase “support our troops.” But this sets up the argument by anecdote:
>It seems oddly detached, however, from what’s happening on the battlefield. The Iraqi battalion I lived with is stationed outside of Habbaniya, a small city in violent Anbar Province. Together with a fledgling police force and a Marine battalion, these Iraqi troops made Habbaniya a relatively secure place: it has a souk where Iraqi soldiers can shop outside their armored Humvees, public generators that don’t mysteriously explode, children who walk to school on their own. The area became so stable, in fact, that it attracted the attention of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. In late February, the Sunni insurgents blew up the mosque, killing 36.
That’s only one battlefield, some would argue, in big war. The rest, as almost no one disputes, is going so well as to have only 36 people killed.