In The New York Times, “Bush Plan for Iraq Requests More Troops and More Jobs” By David E. Sanger, January 7, 2007, some tidbits of the new direction in Iraq:
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….
A crucial element of the plan would include more than doubling the State Department?s reconstruction efforts throughout the country, an initiative intended by the administration to signal that the new strategy would emphasize rebuilding as much as fighting.
So much for the new plan for the war. More critical is the plan for how to make it look like a new plan:
When Mr. Bush gives his speech, he will cast much of the program as an effort to bolster Iraq?s efforts to take command over its own forces and territory, the American officials said. He will express confidence that Mr. Maliki is committed to bringing under control both the Sunni-led insurgency and the Shiite militias that have emerged as the source of most of the violence. Mr. Maliki picked up those themes in a speech in Baghdad on Saturday in which he said that multinational troops would support an Iraqi effort to secure the capital.
Somehow I am not reassured. I want to know:
- How is more of the same a change in direction?
- How is more of the same even a new plan?
- And what did they talk about for four weeks while they told us they were formulating a new plan?
I saw Mr. Maliki on CNN, and he did say that the Iraq was ready to take up the challenge of policing the country. He also said that any one of his people who did not carry out his orders would be severely punished. That statement did not have the ring of a budding democracy to me.
And reconstruction comes after a war is over. I am sure that I have that sequence right. It is purely stupid to pour money into reconstruction while they are still blowing stuff up. Isn’t that a little like sending in a crew to repair the smoke damage while the building is still burning?