President Bush has been floating the idea of a "surge" in US forces as a strategy to bring an end to the civil war in Iraq. The infusion of 40,000 or more American soldiers, goes the theory, will restore order and quell the violence.
In the business world this type of thinking is called "throwing good money after bad," except in this case we would also be sacrificing more American soldiers.
There comes a time when, in any futile human endeavor, we need to just acknowledge that the activity is a failure, and then move on. The United States is at that point in Iraq, and sending tens of thousands more troops only means that the insurgents will have more targets.
The decision to topple Sadaam Hussein's regime through an invasion of Iraq created this civil war. While a brutal despot, Hussein ruled over a functioning government, and the destruction of the Ba'athist bureaucracy led to a power vacuum that has been filled by local militias and political factions.
The idea that 180,000 troops could better police a nation the size of France with 26 million people than could 140,000 is absurd. I suspect that it would be difficult for those 180,000 troops to effectively police Baghdad at this point.
The insurgency was driven by the presence of US troops on Iraqi soil, and the insurgency will not die out until US troops leave. The Iraqi security forces have become dependent on the US military, and they will not evolve into a sustainable police force so long as the Americans remain the primary decision makers.
Those who support the surge plan believe this is the only way to "win" the war, but -like Vietnam - this is a war that cannot be won. The Iraqis are fighting an internal civil war of a political nature, and the US military cannot "win" a political struggle.
Critics of bringing home the troops also argue that a "cut-and-run" strategy shows that America is weak. To those people I say that we survived our losses in Vietnam just fine, and life went on. Perhaps, too, we as Americans might stand to learn a lesson or two about rushing off to war.
There is nothing "weak" about admitting mistakes, learning lessons, and moving forward. I think this process is better described as "intelligence."
Bring home the troops in 2007.