Thursday, April 12, 2007
A word about the Pentagon's decision to extend Iraq tours from 12 to 15 months, which comes on the heels of some units being rotated back to Iraq before completing a year of Stateside duty. You don't need to be a four-star general to know that when you place low-morale troops in high-stress theaters for extended tours of duty, you dramatically increase the risk of misdirected violence. A massacre along the lines of My Lai would be the final nail in our Iraq coffin, yet the Bush administration is putting all the pieces in place that make such a horrible event almost inevitable. Which won't prevent them from blaming a few "bad apples" if one does end up occuring.
It's worth noting that one dramatic difference between this war and the Vietnam War is that back then, there was a draft. So even though plenty of people like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney managed to avoid serving, the impact of that war domestically was felt more broadly than the current war.
The Pentagon is going through all these contortions to maintain troop levels that don't really exist, in order to avoid placing any burden on the civilian population (other than the massive activation of reserve units). None of this is a military necessity. It's a political necessity.
The Vietnam War became unpopular as quickly as it did because after the Tet offensive, people realized:
- That the war was not going as well as the government had claimed;
- That the stakes were not as high as the government had made them out to be;
- Because they no longer wanted to personally pay the price of a failed policy.
I think we've already seen number one with the Iraq War, although the Surge was designed to forestall it a bit. Number two shouldn't be long in coming.
The only way Bush can run out the clock until someone else takes office (and responsibility for the entire mess) is if he can keep number three from happening. And he's willing to break the military to do it.