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Commentary Last Updated: Jan 12th, 2007 - 00:26:30

More troops for Iraq? Just say no.
By Carl Conetta
Online Journal Guest Writer

Jan 12, 2007, 00:10

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There is no way forward In Iraq except out. This is the grim truth that the Bush administration has eluded for years and eludes still. Despite 45 months of war, three "troop surges", and multiple "major offensives", the level of insurgent activity in Iraq has climbed steadily.

Even if we were to accept, at this late date, that our troubles in Iraq are due to our having invested too few bodies, why should we believe that a small increment can turn the tide? For those who put their faith in "force density", the president�s initiative cannot be very satisfying. The numbers will still fall far short of what historical experience suggests is often necessary for success in counter-insurgency and stability operations. Necessary, but not sufficient -- it is worth pointing out.

There is good reason to believe that not even 250,000 troops could achieve what the administration intends in Iraq. Critics have variously targeted the administration�s strategy, planning, priorities, and level of effort. In fact, the problem is the mission itself, which has been overly ambitious and intrusive

What the Bush administration has sought to do, at the point of a gun, is thoroughly reinvent Iraq -- its public institutions, legal system, security structures, economy, and political order. This is a revolution as profound as any, but foreign in origin, design, and implementation. It should not be surprising that these efforts -- which have flooded the country with nearly 300,000 foreign handlers -- have bred resentment and worse.

The most disconcerting data from Iraq concerns popular attitudes toward US forces. The percentage of Iraqis desiring US withdrawal within a year or less has steadily increased as has the percentage who support attacks on US troops. Indeed, strong majorities in both the Sunni and Shia communities now favor such withdrawal and support such attacks. This leaves no grounds for optimism regarding the effects of adding troops.

Carl Conetta is co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA).

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