Give Us 25,000 More Troops and a Unicorn and We Can Win This Thing!


Over at Cato@Liberty, Justin Logan ably demolishes the calls to "give the neocons a mulligan" and send more troops to Iraq. (An idea that's, depressingly, gathering momentum with the people who rule us.) Logan's focus is on Frederick Kagan's plan, which since it's packaged as the work of a "former West Point military historian" is accepted as something other than warmed-over manure.

This surge of roughly 25,000 additional troops, at this stage in the conflict, is unlikely to even suppress the violence significantly in Baghdad. Kaganites like to point to U.S. operations in Tal Afar as an analog. In that instance, a population of (a guesstimated) 150,000 Iraqis was pacified by 3,800 U.S. soldiers, with Iraqi forces in tow. Kagan protests, in response to those who say the forces don't exist to replicate this strategy in the rest of Iraq or even Baghdad, that their opposition "rests on vague extrapolations of force ratios in Tal Afar to the entire population of Iraq or of Baghdad."

But our extrapolations aren't vague at all–they're based on all the counterinsurgency literature out there. Kagan's plan doesn't use the normal metrics for stability ops–he changes them completely. He uses studies that are based on total population, but then decides, without much explanation, that only using the Sunni population for calculation is appropriate in this instance, since "it would be unnecessary and unwise to send coalition forces into Kurdistan or most of the Shiite lands."

As Matthew Yglesias once put it, responding to a different thought-bomb from Kagan fellow-traveller Rick Santorum:

Seriously, these people are morons.

You can check out Logan's foreign policy writing for Reason here.