Who's in charge here?
My favorite bit of hypocrisy from last night's "it's not really a new plan" new plan for Iraq speech concerned troop deployment in the country. The President said that "We will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary. General Abizaid and other commanders in Iraq are constantly assessing the level of troops they need to fulfill their mission. If they need more troops, they will get more."
The thing is, General Abazaid has already asked for more troops. Many times. Actually, he asked for more troops as far back as April, when he met with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. At that time, Rumsfeld said, "if Abizaid wanted more forces he would get them." Then, a month later, while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Abizaid again said he needs more troops in Iraq. Here's a quote from the wire story:
Summoned to testify before Congress on prisoner abuse, Gen. John Abizaid, chief of Central Command, conceded he might have underestimated the strength of the Iraqi insurgency and said U.S. forces are hampered by shortages of military police and other support troops.
The answer last night? "If Abizaid wants more forces, he will get them."
If you want to keep going back, last September Abizaid called for more American troops. This is from The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 — The commander of United States forces in the Persian Gulf said today that he was no longer counting on foreign troops to relieve American soldiers in Iraq early next year. A lack of such troops would require the Pentagon to send active-duty and National Guard soldiers to fill the gap.
"Since it doesn't look like we'll have a coalition brigade, we have no choice but to plan for American forces," General Abizaid told reporters after he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
At the time there were 127,000 American troops in country. So in 8 months, with scores of American casualties and the commanders pleading for more forces, they've received a whopping 11,000. But still, the party line is "If General Abizaid wants more troops, he will get them."
I'm not advocating filling Iraq with military personnel for years to come. But clearly, by under-staffing the troops in the field, Rumsfeld and his cronies have put our soldiers at risk. By not heeding the persistent calls for more forces (because it would be politically distasteful to dump more and more troops into a perceived quagmire), one has to wonder if the military chain of command is being ignored, or if there even is a chain of command at all. By parroting the "if he wants troops, he'll get them" line over and over, and then not giving them to him, it just reinforces this simple fact: we're dealing with liars. Big fat liars who do everything with politics in mind, not safety, not security. Just politics.