Things are tough in Iraq these days. The US is caught in a three-way tug of war with the Muqtada al-Sadr, whose organization, the largest of the Shiite power blocs, comprises much of the political support Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki enjoys. Sadr’s Mahdi Army is the largest private armed force in the country, and it is believed that members of this army have heavily infiltrated the national police and Iraqi army. It is rumored to have as many as 70,000 fighters, but no one is really sure. Then there is the Sunni contingent, which is reinforced by a large contingent of Ba’athists and former members of the Iraqi Army and Republican Guard – battle hardened veterans of eight years of war with Iran. Estimates of this force run as high as 50,000. These two groups shoot and kill each other, and collect the occasional American scalp when opportunity presents itself. The third group is the legendary and almost mythical al-Qaeda in Iraq. Long pointed out by Bu$hCo and CENTCOM as the greatest danger facing humanity since Noah’s flood, realistic estimates place its strength at perhaps 1,500 fighters.
A recent Marine Corps report admitted that Anbar province was basically lost, and unrecoverable, given the US troop strength available to fight there. There are perhaps 15,000 US troops in the immediate vicinity of Baghdad, and, joined with the 12,000 or so Iraqi Army and National Police forces, they are hard-pressed to maintain any real semblance of order and security. Recently there has been talk of surging 20,000 to 50,000 troops into Iraq to get a handle on all the death and killing and bring some semblance of peace to the capital city at least. This talk emanates primarily from John McCain and Joe Lieberman, two morally corrupt politicians who would consign their grandchildren to walk point in Sadr City if it guaranteed them the White House. General John Abizaid recently appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and said he didn’t need the troops that Senators McCain and Lieberman have been posturing for.
Since we don’t have 600,000 troops to adequately police Iraq and train up its army, we should start planning for our inevitable evacuation. Some have postulated this will be an orderly, calm withdrawal “over the horizon,” while others have compared it to a Chosin Reservoir retreat, but with much more fighting to escape.
Since Mr Bu$h will never permit an American evacuation of Iraq because that would be an explicit sign of yet another failure in a lifetime of failures, some people have even compared the situation to the German Sixth Army’s position at Stalingrad, although that’s probably a bit extreme.
Steve Gilliard has examined some of the possibilities here, here, and here.
He doesn’t make it look attractive.