Continuing my longstanding policy of stealing commentary from my wiser, more prolific friends, I must recommend to you this latest post from Tony Karon’s Rootless Cosmopolitan blog, “What the Saddam Lynching Tells Us About Iraq:”
Saddam’s death confirms how little control the U.S. now has over political events in Iraq. And that makes the number of troops it fields on the ground largely irrelevant to the outcome — except, of course, if the U.S. was willing to treble the number of troops it has there now and seize direct political control again. But even if it had the political will, it doesn’t have enough troops to do that.
The problem, I think, in part derives from the fact that Cheney-Bush have not yet reconciled with the inevitability of quitting Iraq — I suspect that they still see those massive permanent bases built in Iraq playing the long-term role originally envisaged in the invasion (Jay Garner compared it to the Phillippines, where the U.S. maintained military bases for a century to fuel its Pacific Fleet; others made clear that Iraq would become the new Saudi Arabia because that country could no longer afford the domestic political cost of hosting massive U.S. bases… either way, it’s clear that Bush went in planning to stay.) I’m not expecting a new strategy from Bush in the coming days; I’m expecting new tactics, and even then, the shifts will be quantitative rather than qualitative.