I highly recommend reading The Wrong Surge by Lawrence Kaplan; published in The New Republic originally, I’m linking to this off-site reproduction because TNR has pesky registration. TNR also did an interview with Kaplan that’s worth reading. “The Wrong Surge” also provides good background for this Newsweek article: “In For the Long Haul” by Michael Hirsch. Lastly, another TNR article that may or may not require registration: “A Different Country” by Peter Beinart.
These articles confirm what I’ve thought since Bush’s announcement of the 20k troop surge: it’s too damn little. Before the invasion General Eric Shinseki predicted we’d need hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq… the White House scoffed (Wolfowitz & Rumsfeld in particular). Army secretary Thomas White was fired for defending Shinseki. Four years later this administration has been forced to eat crow and admit that Shinseki was right all along. We currently have a bit over 150,000 troops in Iraq. General David Petraeus, now in charge of US forces over there, has estimated we’d need 120,000 to take Baghdad alone. So what does Bush suggest? 20,000 to Iraq total, though most are going to Baghdad (the one place in Iraq that Kaplan argues we can’t realistically win anytime soon). Since Congress and the American people are highly unlikely to support more than doubling our troop levels in Iraq, where does that leave us?
One last note — in Kaplan’s article you’ll notice the repeated discussion of al-Qaeda in Iraq. You win +10 points if you understand why this is deeply, tragically ironic.