President Bush has announced that 20,000 plus troops are to be sent to Iraq in an attempt to put down the insurgency and militias that have caused so many problems since the American led and British supported invasion.
The speech was a cleverly contrived show of humility for 'mistakes' in the past in an attempt to bring Americans on side again and committed to an engagement that will be longer, deeper and more costly in both dollars and people. This "new way forward" is designed to re-take the neighbourhoods from the gangs and militias, and then remain in those neighbourhoods to ensure the insurgents don't return. This will be done by joint operations alongside the fledgling Iraqi army and police.
Sounds good. Sounds reasonable. Who could argue with that scenario?
But this strategy is heavily dependent on the willingness and ability of the Iraqi government and armed forces to confront and disarm insurgents and militias. They will have to take on the militia of Moqtada Sadr - the largest, most powerful and the most murderous of the Shia groups, and one which controls much of eastern Baghdad, and with sectarian interests a prominent preoccupation in Iraq, how willingly will the predominantly Shia recruited security forces take on the predominantly Shia militias. I predict that it is going to get bloody!
Moreover, these troops are going to be fighting one of the worst forms of military action, - urban, house to house fighting. Dirty street fighting in some of Baghdad's poorest neighbourhoods, places where America's enormous technological advantage over its adversaries is severely lessened.
The neighbourhood bases for the soldiers are going to be very vulnerable to attack, and logistics re-supply hazardous.
Finally, there will be the problems of distraction. If it gets too hot for the insurgents in Baghdad, then they will up sticks and go somewhere else in Iraq. It will also be an opportunity for Iran to up the anti, knowing that America is now just about fully committed militarily. Nowhere was there any reference to the recommendations from the Iraq Study Group.
I am not impressed by the way he worded that bit of the speech where he said that the responsibility for past mistakes lie with him. The impression left is that it was not the policy that was wrong, but the implementation.
The mess is now so bad that what really needs to happen is for Bush to vacate the White House ASAP and someone with a bit of intelligence take over and can see a true way forward. What Bush fails to recognise is that more of the same that has caused this mess is not going to solve it. On the contary, things are going to get worse. People are going to die or be seriously injured because America is, unfortunately, in the hands of a President that can't take reasonable advice, and works off the basis of his own conviction - or should I say, - wishful thinking.