Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bush Considering Three Iraq Strategies

The Washington Post reported that the Bush administration is rushing to come up with their own Iraq strategy, i.e., NOT the Baker-Hamilton recommendations, for a speech by Bush before Xmas:
The major alternatives include a short-term surge of 15,000 to 30,000 additional U.S. troops to secure Baghdad and accelerate the training of Iraqi forces. Another strategy would redirect the U.S. military away from the internal strife to focus mainly on hunting terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda. And the third would concentrate political attention on supporting the majority Shiites and abandon U.S. efforts to reach out to Sunni insurgents.
I'll bet they choose option 1 because it is the closest thing to 'Stay the course'. They'll boost troops in Baghdad, say its a 'new' strategy and buy more time to try to pull off a 'victory'. Unless the Congress is VERY watchful this 'new' approach could drag on for another year before national discouragement sets in again and we are currently rapidly approaching 3000 American troops dead. As the WaPo said:
While one of the options involves a surge of U.S. troops, there is no agreement on what the mission of those forces would be, sources say. Discussions center on accelerating the training of Iraqi forces and helping secure Baghdad before turning it over to the Iraqis. The goal generally could be to improve Iraq's defense capabilities so U.S. combat troops could begin to withdraw faster.
But of course the usual 'blame the victims' strategy is being used too:
But the growing undercurrent of discussions within the administration is shifting responsibility for Iraq's problems to Iraqis. Sources familiar with the deliberations describe fatigue, frustration and a growing desire to disengage from Iraq. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the deliberations.
Option 2:
The second idea is the "al-Qaeda option," which would transform the U.S. mission to focus on fighting terrorism and would disengage forces from domestic aspects of the multisided conflict. U.S. troops would take a backseat on the Shiite-Sunni conflict and instead hunt down al-Qaeda operatives, the sources say. On the ground, for example, that could mean a shift away from operations in Baghdad's volatile Sadr City slum, or from efforts to stop car bombs and sectarian attacks. The administration is increasingly resigned to the fact that it can neither prevent nor intervene in Iraq's sectarian war, which has begun to supersede both the Sunni insurgency and al-Qaeda's operations, the sources say.
Option 3:
On the political front, the administration is focusing increasingly on variations of a "Shiite tilt," sometimes called an "80 percent solution," that would bolster the political center of Iraq and effectively leave in charge the Shiite and Kurdish parties that account for 80 percent of Iraq's 26 million people and that won elections a year ago. Vice President Cheney's office has most vigorously argued for the "80 percent solution," in terms of both realities on the ground and the history of U.S. engagement with the Shiites, sources say. A source familiar with the discussions said Cheney argued this week that the United States could not again be seen to abandon the Shiites, Iraq's largest population group, after calling in 1991 for them to rise up against then-President Saddam Hussein and then failing to support them when they did. Thousands were killed in a huge crackdown.
Does Cheney or anyone else realize that this option simply increases Iran's influence and alienates our Sunni allies in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia? I guess it's foolish to expect rationality from Cheney. See my previous posts on this tilt to the Shia, e.g., Tilting Toward SOME of the Shia.

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