Wesley Clark's Rx for Iraq

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wesley Clark's Rx for Iraq

In an op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times, Wesley Clark offers his assessment of the U.S. military presence in Iraq. And whatever you may think of the current military strategy being pursued by the Bush administration, it's hard to view Clark's advice as brimming with wisdom. The former NATO commander and '04 presidential candidate writes:
We need to deploy three or four American brigades, some 20,000 troops ... to provide training, supervision and backup along Iraq's several thousand miles of vulnerable border. And even then, the borders won't be "sealed"; they'll just be more challenging to penetrate.
An additional deployment of tens of thousands of U.S. troops just so we can make the border "more challenging to penetrate"? No, thank you.
... we must start using America's diplomatic strength with Syria and Iran. The political weakness of Bashar al-Assad opens the door for significant Syrian concessions on controlling the border and cutting support for the jihadists.
What diplomatic "strength" do we really have with either Syria or Iran?

Within weeks of the Iraqi invasion in April 2003, conservative commentator Joe Scarborough made much-to-do of the Bush administration's stern warnings that Syria and Iran must not aid Iraqi insurgents: "Syria and Iran, you've already been warned by Rummy and, if I were you, I wouldn't screw around with this guy because between you and me, I'm pretty sure he means business."

Given the fact that numerous reports show insurgents and weapons have flowed into Iraq from these two countries, I guess we can assume that this sabre-rattling message didn't work.

But what is especially annoying is Clark's embrace of the same macho-laden rhetoric as Bush, Cheney and the rest of the gang. Near the conclusion of his op-ed, Clark writes:
Don't bet against our troops.
As if success or failure in Iraq is determined solely by the quality of an army's soldiers.

The union commanders who in 1862 ordered their soldiers to charge at the Civil War battlefield of Fredericksburg, Va. may well have made a similar statement -- "don't bet against our boys." But what ensued was a virtual massacre of union troops, and the reason had little to do with the quality of those troops. The terrain, tactics and and other dynamics of a battle matter, and they matter greatly.

Of all people, Clark should know that.

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