March 13th. 2006
President George Bush said today that future troop levels in Iraq will depend upon the situation on the ground.
Sent to but not published in the New York Times
Why do I not believe him?
Before the Iraq war began, General Shinseki told him and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that we needed 300,000 soldiers to pacify Iraq. [Paul Wolfowitz pooh-poohed this number as he thought there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq as there had been in Kosovo where the General had served.] We did not get those 300,000. In the early stage of the occupation, Pro-Consul Bremer told him and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that we needed more troops to control the just-beginning insurrection. We did not get more troops.
The consequences for Iraq have been devastating: the looting that occurred just after the fall of Saddam (and continues in remote archeological sites to this day); and the full scale insurrection that is now under way with dozens of Iraqis killed each day and with the destruction of hallowed religious sites.
No, I do not believe Mr. Bush. I do believe that there will be a draw-down of American troops later this year, but it will occur as the 2006 election season gets closer and will have nothing to do with the state of play in Iraq itself.