Sunday, December 24, 2006

Troop 'Surge' Seen as Another Mistake

By W. Patrick Lang and Ray McGovern
December 24, 2006

Robert Gates's report to the White House on his discussions in Iraq this past week is likely to provide the missing ingredient for the troop ''surge'' into Iraq favored by the ''decider'' team of Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush.

When the understandable misgivings voiced by top U.S. military officials made it obvious that the surge cart had been put before the mission-objective horse, the President was forced to concede, as he did at his press conference on Wednesday, ``There's got to be a specific mission that can be accomplished with the addition of more troops, before I agree on that strategy.''

The President had led off the press conference by heightening expectations for the Gates visit to Iraq, noting that ''Secretary Gates is going to be an important voice in the Iraq strategy review that's under way.'' No doubt Gates was given the job of hammering out a ''specific mission'' with U.S. generals and Iraqi leaders, and he is past master at sensing and delivering on his bosses' wishes.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's aides have given Western reporters an outline of what the ''specific mission'' may look like. It is likely to be cast as implementation of Maliki's ''new vision,'' under which U.S. troops would target primarily Sunni insurgents in outer Baghdad neighborhoods, while Iraqi forces would battle for control of inner Baghdad. A prescription for bloodbath, it has the advantage, from the White House perspective, of preventing the Iraqi capital from total disintegration until Bush and Cheney are out of office.

More here.

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