Iraqi government is anti-surge

If we’re sending troops we can’t spare from Afghanistan to Iraq in order to create “an Iraq than can sustain, defend, and govern itself,” then how come the Iraqi government that came out of those elections we were supposed to be so proud of doesn’t want them sent?

So it turns out the al-Maliki government doesn’t want more U.S. troops. They figure that if we just get out of the way and let them go on killing Sunnis, pretty soon there won’t be any Sunnis left, and the result will be peace. As great-grampaw used to say, ain’t nothin’ more peaceful than a dead Sunni.

On the one hand, if bringing in more U.S. troops means fewer government-sponsored massacres, that’s not a bad result. On the other hand, unless the hidden agenda is a coup against al-Maliki, it’s hard to see how this thing is supposed to work.

By contrast, we know precisely what that combat battalion was needed for in Afghanistan, and there seems to be no doubt that the strain this move is going to put on the military will have big long-term costs. There’s something to McCain’s claim that a defeated army is worse than a broken one, but to break the army with no real chance of success, and with a huge risk of losing in Afghanistan as well, seems like folly at almost the “Is Paris Burning?” level.

Update Rudy Guiliani is for it. Maybe he needs to be to get the right-wing GOP primary vote, but if he’s the nominee this gives the Democrat an almost certain military disaster to hang around Rudy’s neck. And I doubt chickening out of the Baker Commission is going to look good in retrospect. Since Rudy hasn’t made a good decision since he hired Bill Bratton, his support for the idea reinforces my conviction that it stinks.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: