The bottom line is this: More U.S. troops in Iraq would improve our chances of winning a decisive battle at a decisive moment. This means the ability to succeed in Iraq is, to some significant degree, within our control. The president should therefore order a substantial surge in overall troop levels in Iraq, with the additional forces focused on securing Baghdad.
That's the third paragraph of the piece. I read the rest of it, looking for the inevitable discussion on where these troops would come from, or how the American people could be persuaded to sacrifice more lives for the war in Iraq. I was only mildly surprised when I saw that there was no discussion of that at all.
I enjoy reading Kevin Drum, and one of the things I've most enjoyed is him repeatedly calling out conservatives and other supporters of the war who criticize the idea of withdrawal, but offer no solution of their own in return. He does this because the critics of the critics are intellectually dishonest; they talk as if the people advocating withdrawal have wholly blinded themselves to what will happen in Iraq when we leave, and they never say exactly what it is we should be doing to reverse Iraq's long slide to civil war. So I almost want to give Kristol and Lowry credit for at least proposing a real solution...except that many, many people who have thought very seriously about what we're supposed to be doing in Iraq, long-ago realized that the American people were not going to tolerate anything approaching the type of commitment that would be necessary (i.e., a draft) to send enough soldiers to make any difference in Iraq. That's why you don't hear...well, anyone, talking about increasing forces as a solution. Nobody has to talk about it, because we all figured out some time ago that it can't be done. When you mislead people about why you go to war, when you tell them that the war will be short and the soldiers will be coming home in no time, when you tell them that it won't cost them much at all, and all of that turns out to be false, then you are utterly lacking in the credibility necessary to ask them to sacrifice more to win a war they only agreed to under very limited conditions in the first place.
Now I suppose it's possible that Lowry and Kristol already know all this, but they propose sending more troops anyway because they are making a sincere effort to convince people that this is the only action we can really take. Unfortunately, they make no concession to how difficult this will be, or where exactly these troops are supposed to come from. They make a long argument about why and how more troops will help, but nobody really disagrees with that. But their solution..."Send more troops Mr. President!" is lacking in the necessary details for it to be taken seriously.
Perhaps when Lowry and Kristol publish their next op-ed they can admit to the litany of mistakes made in Iraq, while arguing that we must stay committed despite those mistakes. Perhaps in their next op-ed, they will tells us exactly how we're supposed to do to come up with 10,000 or 20,000 or 100,000 more troops. Perhaps in their next op-ed, they will tell us that a revitalization of the draft will be worth it.
But I doubt it.
Update: Glenn Greenwald has about the same opinion of this bold new plan for Iraq, only he addresses with the level of scorn it deserves.