It’s all in the timing.
In 2001, according to former terrorism czar Richard Clark, he and others in the government demanded that President Bush pay attention to the threat from Al Qaeda. The White House ignored the demands (instead focusing on apparently more pressing matters, such as Internet pornography), and the entire world is familiar with the results of that negligence.
In 2001 and 2002, millions of Americans demanded an investigation of 9/11. The President and his party refused for months before finally relenting. But by then it was too late, and those who were shown to possess questionable intelligence – in every sense of the word – had already taken us into Iraq. Had we known prior to invading that we were trusting the word of the incompetent, thousands of American troops, not to mention hundreds of thousands (most likely) of Iraqi civilians, would still be alive today, and we wouldn’t have spent half a trillion dollars in order to create an Islamic failed state in a formerly secular dictatorship.
In 2004, Mr. Bush dismissed John Kerry’s plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq in order to try halting the slide toward civil war. Bush dismissed the notion that a slide toward civil war was even occurring. Two years, and untold deaths later (untold because we and our puppet government in Iraq now refuse to count them), George Bush has changed his mind. Yet again, coming around to what may be the right conclusion only when it’s far too late to matter.
Democrats have been calling for additional troops for years. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) proposed an increase of 40,000 troops during his 2004 campaign against Bush, only to be dismissed by the administration. As recently as June, the Bush administration opposed adding more troops because restructuring “is enabling our military to get more war-fighting capability from current end strength.”
But Bush yesterday had changed his mind. “I’m inclined to believe that we do need to increase our troops — the Army, the Marines,” he said. “And I talked about this to Secretary Gates, and he is going to spend some time talking to the folks in the building, come back with a recommendation to me about how to proceed forward on this idea.”
Most outside the White House, including Colin Powell, seem to believe additional troops at this point wouldn’t help. It’s too little, too late. It’s all in the timing. Perhaps a surge of troops would have made a positive impact a couple years ago when everyone else first thought of the idea, but today it’s likely to do nothing but give insurgents more targets for their resentment and their IED’s. Furthermore, although the military seems to have largely met its recruiting goals this year, those goals were lowered a couple years ago. They’ve struggled to meet their goals, and there’s no telling exactly where Bush thinks he’s going to find an additional 70,000 troops, unless he were to propose reinstituting the draft (which ain’t gonna happen). Perhaps through more stop-loss programs, shifting more troops from elsewhere, conscripting the Coast Guard, calling up the Girl Scouts, and recalling the last living World War One veteran to duty. I’m sure they’ll try some combination of the above.
If only I were on the White House staff, I’d solve the problem in no time. I’d empower the President to fulfill his wish in the quickest way possible — by walking into the Oval Office and uttering three simple words: Work release program.
Not only would a work release program allow the President to proceed with his troop increase, it would also solve our chronic prison overcrowding problem. In fact, if we were to send nothing but death row inmates to Iraq and put them on the frontlines, it may even save us a buck or two on all those needles and electric bills.
But, it’s all in the timing, and this President’s habitually late to the game. Odds are my phone’ll be ringing two years from now.