Sullivan finds it “blindingly obvious” that we don’t have the number of troops in Iraq “needed to keep the peace, to police a country of tens of millions, to seal borders, to gain intelligence and to suppress rioting, looting and disorder.” If that’s our mission then, yes, it’s obvious to me that we don’t have enough troops. Indeed, to “police” the entire country of Iraq might require Vietnam-era troop levels. But if our mission is basically to capture and kill insurgents, train and help build up Iraqi forces, and provide enough security for elections to occur and for the elected government to assume power, then it’s less than clear that our present troop levels are insufficient.
HINDROCKET adds: The reductio on this point was a comment I saw on the horrific photo of three terrorists, taken as they were about to murder two election workers they had dragged from their car, just a day or two ago. A critic of the administration wrote that if there had been soldiers at that intersection, rather than a photographer, the murder wouldn’t have taken place.
Well, sure. Not at that intersection, anyway. But there is no way we can station soldiers on every street corner in Iraq. By that logic, every time a crime is committed in an American city, it proves that there are too few policemen. There is no way to have enough troops in Iraq to prevent all violence. What this shows is not that the administration’s policy is wrong, but rather that it is correct. Defense against terrorists is a losing game. Just as we can’t patrol every street corner in Iraq, we can’t protect every shopping center, bus depot and pizza parlor in the U.S. The only way to deal with terrorists is to go on the offensive, to hunt them down and to kill them where they live. That’s what we have done in Afghanistan, and are doing in Iraq and around the world.
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