Tuesday, June 28, 2005

After "The Speech"

PLUS: I like the fact that Bush clearly said, using bin Laden's words, that victory for jihadists in Iraq will embolden them, defeat would undermine them.

MIX: Bush is right to point out the positive strides made so far, however, claiming that jihadists have failed to disrupt the coalition, en masse, or instigate a civil war glosses over facts and could be used for jihadists as a check list for their own purposes.

MINUS: referring to 160,000 "trained and equipped" Iraqi forces is a huge mistake. According to Biden, there are perhaps 3 fully independent battalions available. A great, and more honest, accounting of Iraqi units. LINK.

Three new steps:

Partnership of units: Wonderful idea.

Embeds with Iraqi units: Another good idea, to make training quicker and more effective. How well this is executed will greatly impact this conflict.

Ministries, command and control: Another fine idea, but the devil is in the details.

So those steps...

Again, the devil is in the details. These points will do a lot to bolster American support in the short term. However, it will require a great expenditure of treasure, and still a lot of blood. With a limited time frame left before the Iraqi government loses legitimacy, the execution of those details is vital. Keep your eyes on this down the road.

More troops?

This stance is tenuous. It seems that the strategic thinking is this: Don't raise troop levels, because that would make the insurgents seem right, and enable Iraqis to avoid the fight. More troops means fodder for insurgents claiming occupation forever, and therefore resistance forever. No more troops risks fatigue for those in the theatre, assuming we could recruit ample replacements and reinforcements.

It seems that troops are needed. To guard the borders, and secure towns pacified. I am not sure how this apparent strategic thinking will play out. It is, as many plans often are, somewhat guesswork.

The punchline

"Iraq is where they are making their stand." (Or close to that.)

It's true. And that was the best line of the speech. How long this speech will bolster the public will depend on how many of the optimistic predictions Bush has presented happen, and how quickly so.


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