In the post-9/11 environment, our overstretched military continues to limit our options in important ways. North Korea’s dangerous provocations in the runup to the Iraq war might possibly have been avoided had we had enough forces to credibly threaten a two front war. But now, in the aftermath of Iraq, it is truly crunch time. As Jonathan Weisman and Mike Allen report in today’s Washington Post, the administration is torn between those who favor a long commitment to rebuild and democratize Iraq, and those who want to get out quickly. There are many factors pulling in favor each policy, but one deserves special mention. Many in the Pentagon are hoping for a quick exit, and no doubt the reason is that our already overstretched military simply cannot afford to have another 75,000 troops or more tied down as peace keepers.
Without an expanded military, there is simply no way we can successfully bring a measure of prosperity and democracy to Iraq. The drain of the occupation on our forces will simply be too great. In the April 21 issue of NRODT, I outline what I think is the best plan for expanding our forces, without resort to a draft. There are plenty of good arguments for and against an effort to democratize Iraq and transform the Arab world. But unless we expand our military, the argument is going to be decided for us by the practical limitations on our capabilities.