2005/06/18

Thomas Friedman's idea on how to win in Iraq

Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, comments on Thomas Friedman's idea of doubling US troop strength in Iraq to 260,000:


It is an index of how desperate the US political class is that impractical ideas are put forward by major journalists in newspapers of record that have already reported on their impracticality.


Cole's criticism is that Friedman suggestion fails to take into account many rather basic facts. The first of those involves the question of “How desperate is the US to fill the ranks?”


According to the San Francisco Chronicle, an estimated 15,000 "private security agents" are currently operating in Iraq.


Another estimate is that:


There are currently 130,000 US soldiers, 9000 British, and 15,000 other coalition soldiers operating in Iraq. With estimates of more than 30,000 private 'security experts,' mercenaries now compose the second largest military force in the country.


The US is already paying an arm and a leg to hire mercenaries from the US, India, South Africa and Chile. Obviously, the US wouldn't need to do that if people back home were stampeding into the recruiter's offices. Well, actually they are, but not in the way recruiters would like. Instead, angry parents are storming into recruiters offices to complain about recruiters pressuring their kids to sign up. Republicans are no help as no one on the right-wing side of the fence is putting out the call to join up.


Remember, the War Preachers, War Politicians, War Pundits and 101st Fighting Keyboardists refuse to call for enlistment. They refuse to fight themselves. And no one else wants to fight their war.


President Bush made a whole series of college commencement addresses in May, NONE of which included a call for college graduates to sign up for military service. As has been pointed out many times, most notably by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11, virtually none of the Congressmen who support the war in Iraq have sons or daughters serving there. Nor do many members of the Bush Administration have any experience with war (Bush failed to complete his Texas Air National Guard service, Rumsfeld served as a fighter pilot, Powell was Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that's about it.) and very few have sons or daughters serving in Iraq. Bush's two daughters are both college graduates, making them eligible for Officer Candidate School, yet despite the fact that neither one has found a job a full year after graduation, neither one has shown any interest in signing up.


So it remains quite difficult to see where Friedman gets the idea that 130,000 soldiers could be added to the US Army.

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