I appreciate Michael’s post from the other day dissenting from my advocacy of more troops in Baghdad and its nice words for me. On the substance, though, I don’t think Michael is really following through on the logic of his position. If our project in Iraq is doomed without new governments in Iran and Syria (and if that project is really as important as most of us say): 1) we should wage war on the governments of Iran and Syria; or 2) leave Iraq, pending changes of government in Iran and Syria. I believe it is folly to think that we can create revolutions in Iran and Syria that will happen on a time-table quickly enough to help us in Iraq. Nor do I believe we can have that much influence on the internal politics of Iran and Syria (we don’t have enough influence on the politics of Iraq right now and we have 140,000 troops there!). We should certainly do what we reasonably can to help the opposition in Iran and Syria, and we should certainly be doing everything we can within Iraq to counteract their malign influence, but it is pretty unlikely–though fervently to be hoped for–that revolutions in those places will happen anytime soon or on our timetable. Michael uses the medical analogy for more troops of treating cancer with aspirin. I think of more troops as a tourniquet–yes, the patient will still be in very bad shape for all sorts of reasons after it’s applied, but maybe he won’t die.