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Posted by on Nov 16, 2006 in At TMV | 16 comments

U.S. Reportedly Plans “Big Push” In Iraq With More Troops

The Guardian reports that the Bush administration is planning a “big push” to win in Iraq — a strategy that would entail a sizeable increase in troops:

President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make “a last big push” to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration’s internal deliberations.

Mr Bush’s refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker the sources said.

Although the panel’s work is not complete, its recommendations are expected to be built around a four-point “victory strategy” developed by Pentagon officials advising the group. The strategy, along with other related proposals, is being circulated in draft form and has been discussed in separate closed sessions with Mr Baker and the vice-president Dick Cheney, an Iraq war hawk.

The piece goes into the various points of the strategy:

· Increase US troop levels by up to 20,000 to secure Baghdad and allow redeployments elsewhere in Iraq

· Focus on regional cooperation with international conference and/or direct diplomatic involvement of countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

· Revive reconciliation process between Sunni, Shia and others

· Increased resources from Congress to fund training and equipment of Iraqi security forces.

And then it adds this:

Lastly, the sources said the study group recommendations will include a call for increased resources to be allocated by Congress to support additional troop deployments and fund the training and equipment of expanded Iraqi army and police forces. It will also stress the need to counter corruption, improve local government and curtail the power of religious courts.

“You’ve got to remember, whatever the Democrats say, it’s Bush still calling the shots. He believes it’s a matter of political will. That’s what [Henry] Kissinger told him. And he’s going to stick with it,” a former senior administration official said. “He [Bush] is in a state of denial about Iraq. Nobody else is any more. But he is. But he knows he’s got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall.”

The “last push” strategy is also intended to give Mr Bush and the Republicans “political time and space” to recover from their election drubbing and prepare for the 2008 presidential campaign, the official said. “The Iraq Study Group buys time for the president to have one last go. If the Democrats are smart, they’ll play along, and I think they will. But forget about bipartisanship. It’s all about who’s going to be in best shape to win the White House.

Question: wasn’t the ongoing debate on Iraq also supposed to be about:

–Sound policy that helps advance the U.S. national interest.

–Completing that policy effectively and efficiently so that no American military lives are lost unnecessarily due to poor planning and/or poor plan execution.

But this report suggests people will be kept over there at least partly because of political considerations for 2008 which means some young people will lose their lives because of domestic politics. MORE:

The official added: “Bush has said ‘no’ to withdrawal, so what else do you have? The Baker report will be a set of ideas, more realistic than in the past, that can be used as political tools. What they’re going to say is: lower the goals, forget about the democracy crap, put more resources in, do it.”

What seems certain: the Iraq Study Group report won’t be the end of an era but the beginning of a new debate and, quite possibly, a new stage in domestic political turmoil.

How will the public react to more troops being sent over — particularly if it turns out that those advocating this are mostly on the Republican side? If the Democrats don’t go along with it, look for polarization to greatly increase. And how long would Republicans already upset over the course of the war allow a new big push with more troops go on, if significant progress isn’t evident?

ADVISORY: This is a post based on a newspaper report, not an official pronouncement. Keep an eye on other press reports along these lines. If true, it indicates the White House agrees with Karl Rove that the war really didn’t factor all that much into the election results.

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