Sunday, December 24, 2006
by W. Patrick Lang and Ray McGovern
(W. Patrick Lang, a retired Army colonel, served with Special Forces in Vietnam, as a professor at West Point and as defense intelligence officer for the Middle East. Ray McGovern was also an Army infantry/intelligence officer before his 27-year career as a CIA analyst. Both are with Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity)
"......Virtually everyone concedes that the war cannot be won militarily. And yet the so-called ''neoconservatives'' whom Bush has listened to in the past are arguing strongly for a surge in troop strength. A generation from now, our grandchildren will have difficulty writing history papers on the oxymoronic debate now raging on how to surge/withdraw our troops into/from the quagmire in Iraq.
The generals in Iraq may have already been ordered by the White House to ''get with the program'' on surging. Just as they ''never asked for more troops'' at earlier stages of the war, they are likely to be instant devotees of a surge, once they smell the breezes from Washington. As for Gates, it is a safe bet that whatever personal input he may dare to offer will be dwarfed by Cheney's. Taking issue with ''deciders'' has never been Gates' strong suit.
Whether Gates realizes it or not, the U.S. military is about to commit hara-kiri by ''surge.'' The generals should know that, once an ''all or nothing'' offensive like the ''surge'' apparently contemplated has begun, there is no turning back.
It will be ''victory'' over the insurgents and the Shiite militias or palpable defeat, recognizable by all in Iraq and across the world. Any conceivable ''surge'' would not turn the tide -- would not even stem it. We saw that last summer when the dispatch of 7,000 U.S. troops to reinforce Baghdad brought a fierce counter-surge -- the highest level of violence since the Pentagon began issuing quarterly reports in 2005.
A major buildup would commit the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to decisive combat in which there would be no more strategic reserves to be sent to the front. As Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway pointed out Monday, ``If you commit your reserve for something other than a decisive win, or to stave off defeat, then you have essentially shot your bolt.''
It will be a matter of win or die in the attempt. In that situation, everyone in uniform on the ground will commit every ounce of their being to ''victory,'' and few measures will be shrunk from.
Analogies come to mind: Stalingrad, the Bulge, Dien Bien Phu, the Battle of Algiers.
It will be total war with the likelihood of all the excesses and mass casualties that come with total war. To force such a strategy on our armed forces would be nothing short of immoral, in view of predictable troop losses and the huge number of Iraqis who would meet violent injury and death. If adopted, the ''surge'' strategy will turn out to be something we will spend a generation living down........"