16 November 2006
America may increase her troop numbers in Iraq
Over the last few days we have speculated on how America will cut and run from Iraq. The Guardian reports today that they will take the lunatic option which is to increase troop numbers by about 20,000, and then make a final push to take control of Baghdad.
This is the lunatic option for two reasons:
1. Another 20,000 men may be able to take Baghdad, but they will not be able to hold it. The guerrillas may take a holiday, or they may go off and fight in other areas - areas that have been stripped of troops for the great, Baghdad push. Either way, they will filter back into Baghdad and start doing their thing just as soon as the Americans reduce their troop levels or lower their guard.
2. The Americans are weary of the war. It does not take a guerrilla genius to realise that all they have to do is take the hit and then counter-attack in their own good time. The Iraqis have time on their side: the Americans do not.
Is this option being seriously discussed? Yes, if you believe the reports that are coming out. Why are senior American generals in favour? Probably because they cannot get away from the idea of one big battle that will decide the war. Their reasoning seems to be that if they put enough troops into an area, then the guerrillas will rise to the bait and pile all their forces into that area.
However, nothing in the almost four years of conflict leads us to conclude that the Iraqis are that daft. That the Americans are even thinking of putting this strategy into effect suggests that they are condemned to learn nothing from the past.