Friday, January 12, 2007

Oh Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Josh Trevino cries foul about the consensus "leftist" interpretation of his recent homage to the efficacy of the concentration camp, free-fire zone and barbed wire approach to spreading freedom and democracy. In the comments section over at TAPPED, he praises commenter Craig's charitable reading of Trevino's piece (a defense that earned Craig the coveted title of "the sole remaining member of the leftist commentariat who can read" ).

According to Craig, as endorsed by Trevino, Trevino wasn't actually "advocating a Boer War strategy," he was merely attempting a thought experiment - a roundabout way of showing that even if we adopted the most troop-efficient model for freedom and democracy promotion (read: the model the Brits used to liberate the Boers), we still wouldn't have the number of troops required.

The problem with this reading is that Trevino makes clear up front that he does not rule out the Boer War approach on moral grounds. In fact, to remove the Boer War strategy from our arsenal would be, in his words, "folly."

Make no mistake: those means were cruel. I have stated previously that I endorse cruel things in war — to eschew them is folly.

Thus, even if we grant the claim that Trevino is primarily arguing that we don't have enough troops to properly execute the Boer War approach, his would be a remorseful assessment of such matters. In other words, if only we had enough troops, we could properly implement the Boer War approach which Trevino endorses.

More perplexing still is the following passage from the same piece. Confusing, that is, if one is to view Trevino's piece as a reality check regarding the inadequacy of the number of troops available for the surge, and the impact such a shortfall will have on our ability to successfully carry out Bush's plan or, in the alternative, the more efficient Boer War approach:

The President also spoke openly of what has been obvious to observers of this war for years: that Iran and Syria are actively engaged on the battlefield against us. One wishes he had been this forthright when United States Marines were grappling with Iranian jihadis in Najaf in April 2004, but better late than never. The warning to these enemy states — coupled with the odd and portentous mention of Patriot batteries and a carrier battle group — is a step in the right direction. This war is bigger than Iraq: and it may have to get bigger still before it is won. [emphasis added]

So let me see if I have this straight: Bush's plan won't work because it would require hundreds of thousands more troops, in line with former General Eric Shinseki's recommendations (400,000-500,000 troops). Even if Bush adopted the Boer War approach, we would still need roughly 300,000 troops which, though less than a Shinseki-type approach would require, is still not in the works. Even post-surge, we're in the 160,000-175,000 range.

Yet, with those constraints in mind, Trevino argues that we might have to expand the war to Iran and/or Syria in order to win in Iraq - where winning is not possible due to the paucity of available combat troops.

Where, exactly, are we supposed to come up with the troops needed to go all Boer War on Iran and/or Syria exactly? So, according to Trevino, we lack the number required to succeed in Iraq (and Afghanistan), but maybe we should start a couple more wars, which will improve our chances in the ones that we are backsliding in already due inadequate number of troops!!!

Thanks for clearing that up there Josh.

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