Iraq: Top Dem Wants More Troops

December 6th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iraq: Top Dem Wants More Troops

Newsweek (Web exclusive)
December 5, 2006
As the debate over Iraq intensifies, leading Democrat Silvestre Reyes is calling for the deployment of more U.S. troops.
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to “dismantle the militias.”
The soft-spoken Texas Democrat was an early opponent of the Iraq war and voted against the October 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade that country. That dovish record got prominently cited last week when Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi chose Reyes as the new head of the intelligence panel.
But in an interview with NEWSWEEK on Tuesday, Reyes pointedly distanced himself from many of his Democratic colleagues who have called for fixed timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Coming on the eve of tomorrow’s recommendations from the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission, Reyes’s comments were immediately cited by some Iraq war analysts as fresh evidence that the intense debate over U.S. policy may be more fluid than many have expected.
“We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies,” Reyes said. “We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq … We certainly can’t leave Iraq and run the risk that it becomes [like] Afghanistan” was before the 2001 invasion by the United States.
Reyes also stressed that there needed to be greater “political accountability” demanded of the Iraqi government. But on the core issue of the U.S. commitment, Reyes—a Vietnam War veteran who partially lost his hearing in that conflict—even compared his position to that of another Vietnam vet, Sen. John McCain, a staunch supporter of the Iraq war. Like Reyes, McCain also has called for an increase in U.S. troop strength. When asked how many additional troops he envisioned sending to Iraq, Reyes replied: “I would say 20,000 to 30,000—for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military.”
When a reporter suggested that was not a position that was likely to be popular with many House Democrats, Reyes replied: “Well again, I differ in that I don’t want Iraq to become the next Afghanistan. We could not allow Iraq to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda, for Hamas, for Hizbullah, or anybody else. We cannot allow Iran or Syria to have a free hand in there to further destabilize the Middle East.”
Reyes added that he was “very clear” about his position to Pelosi when she chose him over two rivals—Rep. Jane Harman of California and Rep. Alcee Hastings—to head the critical intelligence post. One widely cited reason that Harman, a moderate Democrat who supported the war, didn’t get the nod from Pelosi is that the Speaker-designate wanted somebody who would be more aggressive in standing up to the Bush White House—which Reyes promises to be on other issues like domestic wiretapping and CIA secret prisons.
But when asked what he told Pelosi about his thinking on Iraq, Reyes replied: “What I said was, we can’t afford to leave there. And anybody who says, we are going pull out our troops immediately, is being dishonest … We’re all interested in getting out of Iraq. That’s a common goal. How we do it, I think, is the tough part. There are those that say, they don’t care what Iraq looks like once we leave there. Let’s just leave there. And I argue against that. I don’t think that’s responsible. And I think it plays right into the hands of Syria and Iran.”
Reyes also said he is eager to see the recommendations Wednesday from the bipartisan panel headed by former secretary of State Jim Baker and former Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Lee Hamilton. By some accounts, the panel is set to recommend an adjustment of course that will include the beginning of troop withdrawals pegged to progress on the ground along with other political and diplomatic initiatives. But Reyes said such ideas are not likely to substantially change his own views on the subject. “I’m very interested in reading what their recommendations are. But this is my position.”
Reyes’s comments were immediately blasted by one Iraq war critic who expressed concerns that they would give new respectability to an idea that has lost considerable support in official Washington as the violence in Iraq has escalated. “I think he [Reyes] needs a course in Insurgency 101,” said Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who has been active in an anti-war group called the Steering Group for Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. “Have they learned nothing from Vietnam? If he pushes this and gets some support for it, and with McCain in the Senate, it could become more respectable … I think Reyes has got a lot to learn.”
Yet one prominent Iraq war supporter, Cliff May, the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy who served on an advisory panel that worked with the Baker-Hamilton group, said he was stunned and pleasantly surprised by Reyes’s views. “Wow, that’s remarkable,” May replied when NEWSWEEK told him of Reyes’s comments. “Whenever anybody like myself suggests that we need more troops, we get told that it’s not politically feasible. But if you have a leading Democrat saying it, that strikes me as very significant …. I think it’s dawning on a lot of people that the price of a U.S. defeat would be dire.”
One source familiar with aspects of the Baker-Hamilton panel’s deliberations said that the idea of an increase of U.S. troop strength of 20,000 to 30,000 had been pushed by some U.S. military commanders for some time. However, Democratic members of the commission were unwilling to go along with any proposal that would indicate an expansion of the U.S. mission in that country, according to the source, who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters.
Yet another member of the Baker-Hamilton advisory panel praised Reyes for proposing the idea of increasing troops, saying it showed that he “doesn’t just fall back on political reflex.” But, added Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution who formerly served as a U.S. political advisor in Iraq, Reyes’s ideas were unlikely to bear fruit unless accompanied with a far more extensive strategy that included a “political and diplomatic” initiative to reorder and rebuild support for the Iraqi government.
“You can’t sustain an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 troops for very long—maybe four to six months,” Diamond said. “Can you really secure progress on the ground in terms of knocking out death squads and militia activity in four to six months? It won’t make sense unless it’s combined with very intensive political and constitutional activity. Otherwise putting in more troops is like putting more fingers in the dyke … I don’t think there is any magic bullet.”
December 6th, 2006  
Rob Henderson
Did any of us expect that one?!
December 6th, 2006  
While I personally think we need at least 40-50,000 more troops in Iraq immediately I'll take what I can get.
December 6th, 2006  
Let's get this thing done. Limited wars don't work and last for 100 years.
December 6th, 2006  
You can only help someone as much as they want to be helped...

I mean what should we do, obviously what we are doing is having less than desired results....

Should we leave now hang out and go back in a couple years to clean up the mess again after they total spiral out of control????
December 6th, 2006  
Chief Bones

Originally Posted by Donkey
You can only help someone as much as they want to be helped...

I mean what should we do, obviously what we are doing is having less than desired results....

Should we leave now hang out and go back in a couple years to clean up the mess again after they total spiral out of control????
Big -D-
The biggest stumbling block in Iraq was/is/continues to be a lack of manpower. GW was told this prior to our invasion ... and ... he has been told this at every single opportunity by our military leaders since the invasion. We can ONLY train just so many soldiers and policemen with the manpower we presently have on the ground. When you consider what small percentage of our troops are actually training Iraqis, is it any wonder the timetable and the results of the training are in question?

I do understand that just increasing manpower is NOT the entire answer to the problems facing our troops - the politicians need to get off their arses and place some goals (timetable), for accomplishment before the Iraqi government with an admonishment that we will be tolerant of inaction on their part just so long ... and ... then we will leave Iraq (Iraqi government ready or not).

As long as our people are willing to give our military and our politicians a second chance to resolve these issues, a second Vietnam will never occur.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes is only recognizing what our military leaders have been saying since day one - the fact he DID NOT support the invasion says a lot about the Representative considering what his stance on manpower for Iraq is. At least he is NOT in favor of cutting and running - he is willing to give the administration a second chance (something that many of the Doves are not ready to concede).

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