Option 8

In this post, we analysed the options open to the Iraq Study Group. Supposedly, the original brief foresaw 8. Number 8 was one last push, and it seems that this is exactly what we’re going to get. Note that it is sourced to the President and “Pentagon officials”, rather than the Group itself.

In that post, I pointed out that option 8 was absurd because there was no discrete strategic, or even operational, aim that could be achieved by a “last push”. I theorised that it was included as a debate framing exercise to make some version of option 3, phased withdrawal, seem palatable through the false impression of “balance” or “moderation.” Well, it seems that George W. Bush has bought the dummy so completely he thinks it’s a real option.

Years ago, I had a dog, a big friendly barky one that was not perhaps very bright. One day, out for a walk by the Wharfe, the dog smelt a rabbit and plunged off after the creature. Normally, the bunny would have outmanoeuvred him within a couple of turns – I’m sure one of them managed to get on his tail once and claim a Fox-10 – but this one made a fatal mistake. Assuming the dog was intelligent, he reefed into a sharp turn one way, then back the other, then threw a dummy the other way but kept going the same way. The dog, however, wasn’t clever enough to notice the dummy, and the rabbit ran right into his jaws.

So George and Dick are going to send for more troops, 20,000 of them – presumably this is “whatever is left in the bag” rather than any specific tactical formation – in order to “secure Baghdad”. Ah, that again. I see no reason why they will be any more successful at this than the last three times. One sane use for more troops, incidentally, would be to concentrate a reserve strike force in the MND(SE) zone in case it becomes necessary to re-open the roads by force. But they could be provided by pulling out of Anbar.

They are also flirting with the idea of a international conference, but can’t quite bring themselves to say “talk to Iran”. It is hinted at, but they prefer to talk about Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – who are the least influential Arab nations in Iraq by a distance. And the idea of encouraging the Saudis to get involved in a fight with SCIRI and Sadr inspires, well…fear more than anything else except perhaps astonishment.

So it looks like Charlie Whitaker was right.

They also want to revive the national reconciliation process and ask Congress for more resources. On this, frankly, I’m disappointed they didn’t also get to grips with the urgent question of ponies.


  1. Anonymous

    Question: how might this have played out differently had the Democrats not taken Congress? I honestly don’t know. But the announcement feels a bit too much like a typical Bush frat-boy “f*** you” for comfort.




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