William Kristol on the Surge

What is with these people? Check out William Kristol pro-surge piece at the Weekly Standard. (I should note – I actually was related, by marriage, to Kristol for a while, and once was at a small (5 people) dinner with his parents. I don’t recall ever meeting Kristol though.)

Kristol writes:

“Say you’re an average congressman. How do you react to President Bush’s Iraq speech? You suspect, deep down, that he’s probably doing more or less what he needs to do. We can’t just click our heels and get out of Iraq–the consequences would be disastrous. And the current strategy isn’t working. You have said so yourself. Last fall you called for replacing Rumsfeld. You’ve complained that there weren’t enough troops. What’s more, you’ve heard good things about General David Petraeus from colleagues with military expertise. So now Bush has fired Rumsfeld, put Petraeus in command, and sent in more troops. Maybe this new approach deserves a chance to work?”

Anyway, he goes on to call all these average congresscritters Boneless Wonders, because they suspect, deep down, that GW is “probably doing more or less what he needs to do.” I wonder how many people – how many congresscritters – think GW is “probably doing more or less what he needs to do.”

Toward the end, he has this great paragraph:

“So the Boneless Wonders will push a nonbinding resolution to, as Joe Biden put it, “demonstrate to the president he’s on his own.” Sure, the resolution will weaken the president’s hand abroad–but that’s not their problem. It will lessen the chances of success in Iraq–but that’s above their pay grade. It will dispirit friends and embolden enemies–but maybe there won’t be much attention paid overseas to some non-binding congressional resolution. It will send the message to the soldiers fighting in Iraq that help is not on the way–that there are no reinforcements. That’s unfortunate. But, hey–they volunteered.”

Now, one could easily show that GW himself has done all these horrible things already… weakening his own hand abroad, lessening the chances of success, etc., through bad planning, bad assumptions, lack of knowledge (I keep thinking back to Paul Wolfowitz telling Congress that there is no history of ethnic strife in Iraq), and a failure to recognize problems until they had become way too big to manage. One could question what Kristol can possibly mean when he says that barring this resolution, help would be on the way – most of the added troops apparently are to be existing troops kept from rotating out of Iraq or sent on additional tours in Iraq. Telling the folks who are there already “Help is on the way, and by the way, you are the help” seems like one heck of a bad joke.

But I think the bigger problem is something else. I hope GW pulls it off. If he won’t withdraw the troops, then I hope at least they manage to do something positive. But let’s be realistic. This is GW. Its not just the war that he fails at.. consider his other big promise from even earlier.

I sincerely hope he proves me wrong. Lives are stake. The lives of American troops, the lives of Iraqi troops and the lives of Iraqi civilians. There’s also a lot of money that could be spent elsewhere – that could be used to save lives in the US or abroad. If GW pulls it off, I’ll eat crow, and I’ll do it happily. But…

In six months, it will be evident to almost everything that GW has failed again. In two years, it will be evident even to Kristol. And then what? If Iraq is vital now, too vital to leave, why won’t it be too vital to leave then? Will Kristol feel we owe the troops Plan J or Plan K, both of which are virtually identical to Plans A through Plan I, differing only in how many years they get stop-lossed? Will he simply dust off this article and submit it again?