President Bush made public his plans to increase troop presence in the city of Baghdad on Wednesday, January 10, 2007. What are the likely outcomes for such an increase?
The hoped for outcome by the Administration of more soldiers and marines is that violence within the city will be quelled, and that the political process can continue towards making progress in peacefully settling the struggles between the Sunnis and the Shiites in Iraq. With that intervention resolved, then the Iraqi government can take on the responsibility of rebuilding physical infrastructure and communities (through 10 billion dollars of its own money, not American funds). There was no time limit set to the 20,000+ increase in troop deployments but it would be presumed that once all of these successes come to pass, that a gradual phase down would follow in keeping with the slogan, "U.S. troops will stand down as Iraqi troops stand up."
From what the American experience has shown thus far in the occupation in Iraq (the occupation beginning on or around May 1, 2003 with the announcement that major military operations were complete), there is little evidence to lend to the above conclusions with regards to a major troop increase in a specific geographic area of Iraq. Fallujah, Samarra, Haditha, and more towns and cities in Iraq have displayed the inadequate nature of immediate deployments and intense fighting followed by the relative calm - the military flushes the insurgents out, but eventually the fighting leaves behind a brutalized town and the irregular fighting force off to another town to fight another day. An article linked over at Juan Cole's web log hinted that the regular forces of the Mahdi Army already were shape-shifting into the background of Iraqi life in Baghdad in advance of the surge. From the article, "Mahdi Army militiamen say that while they remain undercover now, they are simply waiting for the security plan to end." Encouraging that a simple change of plans will go to subvert this major new strategy of the President's.
Furthermore, the increase in military numbers provides an increase in live targets for a city of millions. IED's and sniper attacks have not gone out of fashion to date, and more patrols with Iraqi units will most likely increase the rate of attacks for months to come. It would be quite likely as well that Iraqi police units will be specific targets if the military patrols are deemed to dangerous to attack. Police headquarters and sign-up stations have been relentlessly attacked during the entire occupation, so it may not be noticeable over a period of time if they increase or decrease minimally.
And what is to be said about the general populations' view on the heightened security measures? Some may certainly welcome the perceived increase in security on the streets of Baghdad, but many will also view this increase as a reminder of an occupying nation taking up residence in their capital. Imagine an armored personnel carrier rolling down your street with an armed machine gunner atop the vehicle and ask yourself if you feel safe or scared at the sight.
Increasing the numbers will probably also yield one or two mishaps on the part of U.S. military units engaging enemies and civilians alike in street-level fighting. More raids and further insults to Islamic traditions and sensitivities can only add to the recruiting strategy of insurgents and sectarian divisions making the long-term goals more remote.
Some or maybe all of these instances may never come to fruition but this is the glum prediction of Iraq, and history has shown that the more dire prognostications have come true more often than the rosy ones. The Administration has constantly relied on brute force to fix Iraq, and there are few if any tangible results from said policies. The rhetoric of the President is fixed on success, but the jargon of his policy is set on destruction.
Breaking Baghdad even further is not the solution.