President Bush’s new Iraq strategy calls for a rapid influx of forces that could add as many as 20,000 American combat troops to Baghdad, supplemented with a jobs program costing as much as $1 billion intended to employ Iraqis in projects including painting schools and cleaning streets, according to American officials who are piecing together the last parts of the initiative.
Atrios on the little "jobs" program component:
In all seriousness, of course throwing huge amounts of money at Iraqis to rebuild the country is the obvious thing to do. It was such the obvious thing to do that some of us were a bit confused when we realized they weren’t doing it. Had there been a massive public works program which hired Real Live Iraqis instead of whoever the hell Halliburton was importing to do the work, and instead of painting the goddamn schools they’d managed to turn the lights on for more than a couple of hours per day there’s some chance things could’ve worked out a bit better.
And I'm basically ripping off Maha's entire post, but this part just makes me grit my teeth in frustration:
Hawks gathered in the plush, carpeted suites of the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Friday to discuss a new course in Iraq they say should be spearheaded by tens of thousands of new troops camped out in Baghdad neighborhoods in active combat roles well into 2008.
The plan is not to be dismissed. Unlike the much ballyhooed Iraq Study Group, these are the people President Bush listens to, many of them the same influential voices who were predicting in 2002 that the war would establish a flower of democracy in the Middle East. Sitting in the overheated, standing-room-only conference hall, a Department of Homeland Security official leaned over to me to note the irony that reporters had paid so much attention to the workings of the Iraq Study Group, as opposed to the troop-surge plans being cooked up at AEI. “This is the Iraq Study Group,” he quipped.
And I can almost see the smirk on this official's face, as he wallows in amusement that we citizens and reporters alike, all mere peons, could have been taken in by the charade that was the Iraq Study Group. How could we be so foolish as to think that the architects of the disaster in Iraq would bow to common sense and reason from those with more experience than they? Instead, yet again, Bush turns to these "sages" at the AEI, the ones who brought us this war in the first place, to somehow turn everything around in Iraq. 3,000 dead Americans and 500,000+ dead Iraqis simply aren't enough to teach these characters some humility. Instead, even now, they "quip" bemusedly.
Cooler (saner) heads may not have prevailed with this ridiculous plan, but criticism of the plan refuses to die:
"There is a lot of concern that this won't work," said one military official not authorized to speak publicly about the debate at the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, the political and economic ideas under consideration all appear to be variations on initiatives that U.S. and Iraqi authorities have proved unable to implement successfully since the 2003 invasion or have tried and found wanting, according to former U.S. officials and experts on reconstructing war-torn countries.
Many officials at the State and Defense departments also doubt that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is capable of making the necessary reforms, given its track record of promising but not delivering since taking power in May and despite Maliki's assurances in a speech yesterday that he would hold Iraqis accountable for implementing a new Baghdad security plan.
A sense that the White House is preparing more of the same is generating deep skepticism among Democrats in Congress, many of whom have signaled strongly in recent days that they would resist sending additional troops to Iraq. And although Republicans say they are open to what Bush proposes this week, they are also asking much more pointed questions about the premises of the White House Iraq policy.
Then of course there are the American people, a majority of whom in November probably thought they were voting for a somewhat different course of events. Such opposition won't be enough to stop this foolish and arrogant plan from being implemented, but Bush won't get the 18-months that Kagan thinks any plan like this needs to be effective. He may get six, but it's more likely he'll get four, or two. And when, after two or four months, these 20,000 troops have been unable to quell the violence in Baghdad, what then?