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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Iraq Troop Levels

December 20th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the Boston Globe

Your report (Bush seeks to expand strained military, Boston Globe, December 20, 2006: page A2) suggests that President Bush is planning on deploying up to 35,000 more troops to Iraq. This is the very worst of the four alternatives he could have chosen; withdrawal; maintain the status quo, small troop increase; massive troop increase.
I would favor the withdrawal option; but if we are to increase troop levels then only a massive increase will have any chance of success.
Before the war began General Eric Shinseki estimated that we would need several hundred thousand troops for the occupation of Iraq. We should note that he was talking about an Iraq in the immediate aftermath of defeat by American troops. That is he was talking about a subdued Iraq. Three years later, Iraq is at war with itself, so it stands to reason that a large infusion of troops will be required to subdue the insurgency and return the streets of Baghdad to peace and to retake Anbar province. If the General was talking abut 200,000 occupying troops in 2002/3, the required number now must be at least 300,000 troops for the pacification of Iraq.
If that number is impossible to provide, then we should withdraw. Sending in a relatively small additional contingent would make little difference to our pacification efforts and just put more troops at risk. That is totally unacceptable.

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