President Bush and his new military chiefs have been saying for nearly a month that they would "surge" an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, in a last, grand push to quell the violence in Baghdad and in Anbar Province. But a new study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the real troop increase could be as high as 48,000 -- more than double the number the President initially said.
That's because the combat units that President Bush wants to send into hostile areas need to be backed up by support troops, "including personnel to staff headquarters, serve as military police, and provide communications, contracting, engineering, intelligence, medical, and other services," the CBO notes.
To reflect some of the uncertainty about the number of support troops, CBO developed its estimates on the basis of two alternative assumptions. In one scenario, CBO assumed that additional support troops would be deployed in the same proportion to combat troops that currently exists in Iraq. That approach would require about 28,000 support troops in addition to the 20,000 combat troops--a total of 48,000. CBO also presents an alternative scenario that would include a smaller number of support personnel--about 3,000 per combat brigade--totaling about 15,000 support personnel and bringing the total additional forces to about 35,000.
Of course the Bush administration was lying about this. Of course 21,500 troops actually mean either 35,000 or 48,000. Every damn number this administration has ever used to describe the cost of its programs has always been an intentionally understated.
It is times like these we need to be more active than ever to stop the escalation. As I type this, MoveOn.org's virtual march on Washington to stop the escalation is taking place. You can still take part. Call your members of congress and tell them to stop the escalation. Follow the progress of the march here.
This is horrible news. My only hope is that outrage by some can push along further the resolutions and concrete actions that are brewing in the Senate.
I'm interested though to see what this does to poor John McCain. First it was we need a surge in troops, and the President called his bluff and now we're going down that terrible path. So McCain upted the ante and said we need even more troops. Now the president may call that bluff. Next, will McCain push Steven Colbert's call for 300,000,000 new troops? We'll see.
I certainly share your concern. There is more to the Iran sabre-rattling than meets the eye, however. It is pretty clear that the Gulf States are scared shitless and lately there has been an unusual amount of diplomatic activity and soft-peddling with Iran and Iranian proxies by the Sunni establishment. Chirac's recent comment was no accident, incidentally, he isn't standing for re-election and can say what he wants, retraction or no.
A world of contradictions. Iran is opening a bank in Baghdad next month, the first foreign bank to operate there, at the apparent invitation of the Maliki government. Russia has just supplied Iran with state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missle systems. Hamas and Fatah have agreed to talks in Mecca, of all places, after similar talks in Damascus broke down recently.
Yet the endless posturing about the Iranian involvement in Iraq seems to be more spin than substance, although it is clear that they do have a quasi-military presence and have been providing support to Iran-aligned insurgents.
Frankly I believe the US has ceded a significant foreign policy advantage to the Iranians in the Middle East with the failed war in Iraq and is desperately looking to save face the only way they know how.
How big a risk does the current situation pose? I guess that depends on how bat-sh*t crazy you think the Bush administration is. It's a worry.
The real risk, if you ask me, is the spread of Sunni/Shi'ite sectarian violence to every corner of the Middle East. It is already underway, predictably, thanks largely to our complete bungling of Iraq. Iran is at least two years away from developing a nuclear weapon, notwithstanding the absence of a credible delivery systems. If Musharraf goes down in a fundamentalist insurrection we will have a damn site more to worry about than the Iranian nuclear program.
I am much more afraid of Bush than I am of any possible Pakistani Fundamentalist insurrectionists. At least one needs some smarts to pull off an insurrection. I think we could lose a half dozen B-1bs, and 80% of the Navy to this Iran madness. Plus all the US personnel in Iraq (170k) turn into hostages, and the price of gas goes to $10 a gallon. And just when I start to calm down, I see something like: