The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Columns

June 26, 2008

Surge successful, but ending still uncertain

I think the consistently positive and favorable results emanating from the U.S. surge in Iraq, which began in February 2007, have been consistent and lengthy enough to merit a well-earned toast for Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of Multi-National Forces in Iraq.

This writer is no longer skeptical about whether or not the surge is “working.” I believe it is.

By “working,” what do we mean exactly?

If we follow Petraeus’ stated goals — to reduce violence, increase security and give the Iraqi government and security forces a more stable environment in which to grow themselves — then Petraeus has been impressively successful in his surge.

But to use Petraeus’ own words on Iraq, “Tell me how this ends?”

Are we prepared as a nation to keep a huge Army of occupation in Iraq for as long or longer than we have in the Republic of (South) Korea? 58 years? Longer than that?

Maintaining the status quo for so long begins to look like mere stubborness rather than the intelligent, prudent, fiscally sound application of a nation’s human and financial resources.

Petraeus’ request for 20,000 additional U.S. troops in Iraq — the surge troops — in January 2007 sounded oddly similar to similar requests made by a long line of hapless historical American Army generals who always seemed to believe more troops is the panacea for failed U.S. military policies. William C. Westmoreland, in Vietnam, and George B. McClellan, during the American Civil War, are two apt examples of the “more troops equals the solution” fallacy.

Westmoreland insisted — even after being completely surprised by the enemy’s Tet Offensive and commanding the U.S. military mission in Iraq during the highest casualty-producing year, 1968, (16,592 U.S. servicemen killed) — he only needed 120,000 more troops to completely conquer the North Vietnamese Army and their Viet Cong compatriots through a war of attrition.

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