Re: the question of troops needed in Iraq, Max Boot relates his recent experience in Iraq (the link is to the LA Times -- [free] registration req'd), noting that the guys on the ground don't think more boots are necessary:
- Many voices, on both the left and right, are now arguing that we need more troops in Iraq. Precisely the same thing was claimed in Vietnam. But there, as our troop commitment escalated above 500,000, the war was steadily Americanized and the South Vietnamese became less capable of fending for themselves. That's not a model we should follow in Iraq.
Every U.S. officer I talked to said that the 150,000 soldiers we have in Iraq now are sufficient. What's required is not more troops, they said, but better policing methods. Both the 101st Airborne and the Marines are disdainful of some of the heavy-handed tactics, such as large-scale "cordon and search" operations, employed by Army units in Baghdad and the surrounding areas. They argue that the focus should be on getting better intelligence and training Iraqi security forces to police their own country. That process is now underway, but it will take time to create a new army and police force.
(Thanks to Ms. Lopez for the link.)