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Monday, January 08, 2007

Vietnamization of Iraq

For those who don't remember the word "Vietnamization", it referred to the idea that the US was going to train more South Vietnamese troops, and once again become advisors in the war in Southeast Asia.

It was a plan devised mostly by President Nixon, but because of public pressure, and congressional drumbeating to defund the war. For those who don't remember, it was the point at which we gave up on Viet Nam, and allowed the South to be overrun by the north.

In Iraq, it is the Congress that is pushing hardest for Vietnamization of the country. When the President mentioned a troop surge to curb sectarian violence to House and Senate leaders, hearings were moved up a week or two on Iraq. Many members are now hinting at defunding Iraq, forcing a withdrawl due to lack of funds.

Once again Congress would like to see an ill-equipped and not ready for prime time Army take center stage in a war where a well equipped and trained Army is having difficulty. They don't see the parallel to Viet Nam, or that this is still a recipe for disaster. What they see is poll numbers, the least sound way to set policy.

The President's plan, which has been leaking from Democratic leaders officers since he briefed them makes sense. Add more troops, and as the number two general in Iraq said, deal with both Sunni and Shi'ite militias, then pull back when it's easier for the Iraqi's to handle Baghdad makes more sense, even if polling doesn't support it.

Even if it makes more sense, and is probably the right course, don't expect Congress to go along with it. To the new leadership the short term political gains of forcing withdrawl means much more than the long term consequences of a stable Iraq.

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