President Bush has announced an increase in U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq by the end of January or even earlier. He announced the deployment of another 21,500 soldiers in addition to the 130,000 U.S. troops already there. This is perceived as Bush’s last chance to present a winning strategy after four years of bloody conflict which has cost 3,000 American lives and the American taxpayer around US$400 billion. In the face of rising public opinion against the war, Bush did a mea culpa and admitted strategic mistakes but maintains that the way out is to bring more in. Although he said that American commitment is “not open-ended” and that the Iraqi government will be able to assume all security concerns by November, history says otherwise.
Vietnam should have taught the U.S. that the escalation of an unpopular war does not bring victory. The Bush government will be fighting on all fronts, including at home. The Democrat-controlled Congress will oppose all efforts to send more troops by withholding funds. But this tack would be too late to stop the present deployment.
An occupation force hamstrung by widespread domestic dissatisfaction and political bickering will not prevail over a determined insurgency. The Russians learned this hard truth in Afghanistan. Their Afghan misadventure hastened the disintegration of the U.S.S.R.