Why We Can't Leave
As for the "plan" the president proposed, it is, like "democracy," a mere bromide. Putting 21,500 more troops into Baghdad may well be repeating the error of undercommitment, which doomed Bush's Iraq venture in the first place. The plan, the president tells us, requires the elected Iraqi government to do things for which it has shown no enthusiasm and, indeed, about which it has been obstructionist. Bush may insist that the weaselly prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, listen. But Maliki has only one ear, it seems-for Moqtada al-Sadr, the firebrand Shiite cleric and sworn foe of America. On CNN last week, Maliki again poured cold water on the Bush plan for Baghdad.
This, of course, should have come as no surprise. Back in June, in Operation Together Forward, the president vowed that "a joint effort" would be made by 26,000 Iraqi soldiers, backed by 7,200 mostly U.S. forces, to secure Baghdad's violent streets. No more than 9,000 Iraqi soldiers showed up. Then there was Stage II of the operation. Of the six battalions supposed to join an additional 5,500 Americans, only two showed up. A half-year into this critical joint undertaking, the U.S. has committed 15,000 soldiers to the mission. Iraqi combat forces in Baghdad have never numbered more than 10,000.
The continual failure of Maliki to deliver brings to mind the quote from Henry IV: "I can call spirits from the vasty deep," says Owen Glendower. To which Hotspur replies: "But will they come when you do call for them?"