The Blog

Baghdad Today

10:58 AM, Jul 27, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Two editorials worth reading this morning:

From the Wall Street Journal:

Security in the Iraqi capital has been deteriorating, and especially worrisome is the increasing number of killings by sectarian militias. Many Baghdadis are afraid to leave their neighborhood and sometimes even their homes on normal business. Increasing numbers are fleeing for safer regions of Iraq or nearby foreign countries. While this isn't yet "civil war," current trends are planting the seeds of one….

Here are a few key issues:

More security forces for Baghdad. Whatever one thinks about the number of U.S. troops overall in Iraq, there is no question too few have been deployed in the capital. So news that American troops will be redeploying from relatively peaceful areas of the country to help out in Baghdad is encouraging.

From the Washington Times:

Unfortunately, we suspect that Washington's preferred solution -- reducing U.S. troop levels outside the capital in order to bring relief to Baghdad -- is more likely to expand the problem from Baghdad to include other parts of Iraq than to lead to an overall reduction in crime and violence.

Of course, the issue of inadequate troop strength goes back to 2003, with some on Capitol Hill arguing at the time that more forces were needed post-invasion. And two new books just out add much more evidence of insufficient troop levels (more on this later). In one of them (Cobra II by Gordon and Trainor), the authors, based on an interview with then Army Secretary Thomas White, also recall one pre-9/11 proposal that luckily never saw the light of day:

As the two-war doctrine was being amended, the secretary and his aides turned their attention to trimming the forces. Shortly before September 11, Rumsfeld had presided over a meeting at which Cambone [his senior aide] laid out several options, including one to reduce the Army by as much as two divisions, a proposal that drew vociferous and ultimately successful protests from the Army leaders, who argued that the service was already stretched thin. (page 9)