Plans to reduce number of US soldiers in Iraq

The WaPo reports that the Pentagon is drawing up plans to reduce the number of US soldiers in Iraq to less than 100,000 next year and to around 50,000 by 2005.

Frankly, it seems like extremely wishful thinking. For example, what is to prevent another coup as soon as US soldiers leave Iraq? Or a government that is extremely unfavorable to the US? How will the US ensure that Chalabi, or whoever it puts in, is not thrown out on his ear?

Some strategy commentators are also skeptical:
But some experts doubt that the new Iraqi forces will be capable of picking up those tasks, which could undercut the plan to draw down U.S. troops. "I do not place a lot of hope in the new Iraqi security forces, at least in the time frame" being discussed, said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst of Middle Eastern militaries.

Also, there is some worry that even if Iraqis can execute tactical missions to provide security, they may not be able to carry out the larger, more difficult task of holding together Iraq as a nation.

"There is a fallacy in the 'turn it over to the Iraqis for security' argument," said retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, who has taught strategy at the National War College. "The strategic problem, and the problem that will demand keeping a large U.S. presence, is the danger of a fractured Iraq." Without a large number of U.S. troops on Iraqi ground, he said, the country could quickly split into a Kurdish north, a Sunni center and a Shiite south.
In my opinion, a big part of this is intended for Bush's reelection campaign. It would make a slogan like "Bush... he kicked ass. Now, he's now bringing the boys home" possible.

But the idea that the Us will be able to seriously reduce its forces anytime in the next two years, minimum, and still get anything approaching a unified, stable Iraq - much less this democratic and capitalistic Mideast wonderland that we were promised - is sheer fantasy. Such a plan would not be able to defend against another dictatorship, a break-up of the country, or a government of a unified Iraq the US would not like.

In other words, Bush can have his "reconstruction" in the way he likes it - but that will mean that US soldiers will be there for a long time.

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