Q&A Friday #56: Increasing Troop Levels In Iraq

Question: “Do you think we should send in more troops or keep it the troop levels the way they are?” — libliever

Answer: I’m a little cool to the idea of adding more American troops because supposedly, most of the generals don’t support it, I think that the Iraqis could already be doing a lot more, everyone agrees that the “surge” won’t be sustainable, and most of all, I’m not sure exactly what all these troops will be doing in Iraq. Sure, there will be more bodies on the ground, but what hump does this get us over? Does this mean we’ll be able to secure Baghdad? Do we need them to knock out Al-Sadr’s militia? Will the Iraqi troops be ready to take over the day to day policing the country by the time those troops have to leave? What does this do for us? The truth is, no one has really effectively answered that question and if we increase the number of troops in Iraq and don’t accomplish anything, it will be a significant negative for us.

However, the President is the Commander-In-Chief and therefore, he’s ultimately responsible for the war effort in Iraq. If he thinks we need more troops to win, I’ll back him on that, no matter what the polls or the generals say. As long as the President is striving to win in Iraq, not just tread water or cut and run, I’m with him all the way.

As far as the polls go, a President shouldn’t be making key decisions about the number of troops on the ground based on polls. When it comes to the generals, the President should pay close attention to the advice his generals give him, but he has got to be the ultimate decision maker.

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Additionally, as I’ve written before, I think the President has, “a window that will last through 2007 to do what he needs to do in Iraq.” If there isn’t a significant improvement by then, the public’s support for the war will be so low that even many Republicans in Congress will turn on the war and then it will become entirely possible that the Democrats in Congress may be able to gather enough votes to cut off funds for the war. Forcing our troops to surrender in that fashion would be a disastrous outcome not just for Iraq, but for the United States.

That may be part of the reason why Bush thinks we need to pull out all the stops and increase the number of troops in Iraq. It may be because if he realizes that if doesn’t move the ball forward this year, he may not have much of a chance to do anything in 2008. So, from his perspective, it may be now or never.

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