For what it’s worth, this is what we say in an editorial that went up a few hours ago:
The linchpin in Iraq continues to be Baghdad. Our latest attempt to secure the city predictably failed for want of U.S. troops. Again and again in Iraq, our troops have cleared areas of insurgents, only to have them return when the troops vacate the areas or hand them over to incompetent Iraqi security forces. This is what just happened in Baghdad. Bush must send a substantial number of additional troops to Baghdad in a bid to restore a semblance of order to the city.
It is said that we don’t have the troops to send. No less a personage than General Abizaid has said any surge could only be temporary. There is no doubt that extending rotations and sending troops back into Iraq for the third time would be a severe strain on the military. Nor can there be any doubt that trying to fight two post-9/11 wars with a pre-9/11-sized military was a historic mistake, for which President Bush will be judged harshly. But if there is any cause that calls for straining the military, it is an attempt to keep from losing a war. A loss in Iraq would lead to a drastic worsening of our position in a strategically crucial part of the world, undermine our prestige worldwide, and perhaps lead to the creation of terrorist safe havens.
It may turn out that more troops won’t make a difference, that Iraq is on an inexorable slide toward chaos. But, so far, U.S. troops have made a difference wherever they have been deployed within Iraq. It is often said that there isn’t a military solution in Iraq, only a political one. This is partly correct. Long-term stability will require some sort of deal and reconciliation between the Shiites and the Sunnis. The government will have to purge itself of its criminal and radical elements. And Shiite militias will have to disarm.