Debating force levels in Iraq
Sen. John Warner appeared on NBC's Meet the Press this morning, explaining his argument that at least a brigade of U.S. troops should be brought home by Christmas to make it clear to the Iraqi government that we will not shoulder the entire burden of security indefinitely. Sen. Warner also pointed out differences between the Pentagon and the White House on how long the surge will last. When he announced his decision late last year, President Bush indicated that the surge was supposed to last several months, up to a year, but General Petraeus "wants to stay there with full force as long as they can," according to Warner, who recently returned from Iraq. See washingtonpost.com and gopusa.com. I was surprised that a top military commander would make such a statement without making a corresponding push to increase the overall size of our armed forces, which are already stretched thin and under heavy stress.
Last month Senator Warner said that Congress should pass a new resolution to authorize continued military efforts in Iraq because the original October 2002 resolution was based on a different justification that is no longer applicable to the current situation. (See Washington Post.) Warner is probably just trying to force the issue and get a solid consensus on the record.
To the surprise of many, the Democrats have been floundering on an alternative Iraq withdrawal strategy, with Senators Clinton and Obama sharply contradicting each other. As a result, they are suffering a reversal of fortunes in terms of public support, as the political momentum shifts to the Republican side; see U.S. News & World Report (via Instapundit). You don't have to be a gung-ho warrior to realize that the choice is not between fighting or giving up, but rather between fighting smart or fighting dumb. We can certainly recalibrate our force levels in Iraq, and perhaps refocus on military efforts, without giving up to the Islamo-fascists. Along those lines, John Krenson pointed out that many leading Democrats are shutting their ears to the advice of military experts, belying their previous charge that Bush was the one who refused to listen to input.
There was a "surge" of commentary about the apparent success of the U.S. surge in Iraq (e.g., Don Surber, via Instapundit), or about the ongoing religious-ethnic fragmentation of Iraq (e.g., IraqSlogger, via Andrew Sullivan), but I didn't bother to opine on the subject. I've made it clear since last December that I was skeptical that the surge would achieve the desired long-term political results (getting the Iraqi government to stand up on its own two feet), but I also see no point to undermining the command decision that has been made. I hope for the best, and expect a little less than that. Arguing about the "surge" diverts attention from the real question of whether the United States as a nation is committed to exerting enough effort in Iraq over the long term to pave the way for eventual stability and self-rule. The real issue is not the intensity of our effort, but rather the duration of it. This should be obvious enough not to have to repeat more than every couple months or so...
What it's all about
David Horowitz explained "Why We Went to War in Iraq" at frontpagemag.com; hat tip to Stacey Morris. He rebuts the truth-twisting and selective recollection of opportunistic politicians of the left such as Al Gore, who had a much different position on Iraq and Saddam Hussein when he was vice president. How soon we forget...
New British flat tops
Last month the British government signed contracts to build two new aircraft carriers that will be much larger than the existing carriers that tipped the balance in the Falklands War against Argentina in 1982. The are designed to accommodate the U.S.-designed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. "The two British ships, to be named Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, are scheduled for completion in 2014 and 2016, respectively." See defensetech.org.