Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 22, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

A SECOND SURGE?....I don't even remember where I first saw this now, but it seems like half the lefty blogs I read have linked today to a piece by Stewart Powell of Hearst Newspapers that examines deployment orders for Iraq and comes to a startling conclusion:

The Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year, an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders showed Monday.

....The actions could boost the number of combat soldiers from 52,500 in early January to as many as 98,000 by the end of this year if the Pentagon overlaps arriving and departing combat brigades.

Separately, when additional support troops are included in this second troop increase, the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq could increase from 162,000 now to more than 200,000 — a record-high number — by the end of the year.

But the Pentagon routinely overlaps arriving and departing combat brigades. And when they do, it always produces a temporary increase of troop levels that lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a month or two. And since the surge has increased the base number of troops, it's likely that the temporary increase this time around will be larger than past ones.

In other words, I don't quite get the fuss. This might be news if Powell had some evidence that the overlap period was going to be longer than usual — or, even worse, that troops currently in Iraq weren't going to come home at all. But there's nothing like that at all. It seems like it's going to be the same kind of short-lived enlargement that we've seen several times in the past.

It's unwise to blindly accept explanations from the Pentagon at face value, but when they say that 20 brigades is 20 brigades and the year-end swell is due to "temporary increases that typically occur during the crossover period," that actually seems pretty plausible. Count me as a skeptic on the "secret second surge" theory until I hear more about it.

Kevin Drum 6:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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Comments

After todays Pelosi/Reid surrender statment, why not a second surge? Hell, why not call it what it is--a permanent occupation?

It is time for direct action. We need to tell every politician we find that they are not getting a dime if they vote for the Reid/Pelosi surrender bill. Not a dime.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 22, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

My Congress critter has been warned.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 22, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's painful to see that the Dem caucus appears to be every bit as divided on this as they were a year ago. You'd think we would have made at least a little progress by now, but it sure doesn't look like it.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on May 22, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I have polled people who know more than I do and they are of the opinion that this "stealth surge" will result in a net increase overall.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 22, 2007 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yes.

This is a disappointing development.

None of the Democratic effort since the mid-term "takeover" has had any substantial effect. Which is exactly as I predicted.

Time to break the "I-Word" out of cold storage.


Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on May 22, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

"It's unwise to blindly accept explanations from the Pentagon at face value..."

yet that is exactly what you're doing, as you have done so many times with this Administration, only to subsequently get burned for it. No doubt in a few months time as the Administration's intent becomes clear, you'll come around to your senses, and hypocritically bemoan W's deceptiveness.

You're a sucker, nothing more.

Posted by: slammin' sammy on May 22, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

What's the big deal? Sometimes guys have to take a second blue pill over the course of an evening.

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Given that the situation has gone past the point where those numbers are sufficient to contain the situation, I am reminded how you make a God-Awful explosion : you constrain an expanding charge in an inadequate container.

Posted by: opit on May 22, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Time to break the "I-Word" out of cold storage.

Any mechanism for impeaching Reid and Pelosi for failing us yet again?

Here's hoping that enough anti-war Dems and enough anti-minimum wage GOPers combine to defeat the Capitulation Bill.

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

The misleading analysis pointed out by Kevin is a good example of the media bias we conservatives complain about.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 22, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's like watching a poker game on TV, and the guy holding the full house has been bluffed into folding by the guy with a pair of sixes.

What the fuck's the matter with these people?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 22, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl: Could be. Based on Powell's story, though, I don't really see it. If there's additional info you've got, please share!

Slammin: Yes, I'm well known for accepting everything George Bush says uncritically. What planet are you living on?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on May 22, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "The misleading analysis pointed out by Kevin is a good example of the media bias we conservatives complain about."

Please. When it comes to politics, you couldn't find your own ass in broad daylight if you had a hand mirror and illustrated instructions. You have no business lecturing the rest of us.

How's THAT for liberal bias?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 22, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

DfH: How's THAT for liberal bias?

Pretty damn good!

Posted by: thersites on May 22, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Just a quick side-trip into Cambodia ought to do the trick.

Posted by: Kenji on May 22, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Consensus seems to be that even after the pig passes through the snake, we will be left with about 185,000 troops in Iraq.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 22, 2007 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Here's hoping that enough anti-war Dems and enough anti-minimum wage GOPers combine to defeat the Capitulation Bill.

And deprive Pelosi of her first success of the infamous "100 hour" plan?

Hmmm... It's been 122 days since the Dems took over- and we'll just pretend that this completes their stated agenda for this time period...

Given this 'time differential', I can only assume that Speaker Pelosi is currently travelling 99.88% of the speed of light.

Explains that face, eh?

Posted by: I am AlGore's sweaty backfat on May 22, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

One last try for the legacy.

Posted by: aline on May 22, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

What the fuck's the matter with these people?

After talking tough against the war only to cave in to a petulant child, they give new meaning to the word "chickenhawk".

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

It just seems to be a plausible tactic by Bush since he out-lasted the democrats. Why stop with 20 brigades when you can have 25 or 28.
He has nothing to lose and a better legacy to gain.
Evidence? Wait and see.

Posted by: Jim Martin on May 22, 2007 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

According to Inter Press, the deployment of the third aircraft carrier group to the Gulf was originally intended to be an augmentation, not a rotation--until Admiral Fallon objected. So, in these strange times, I wouldn't automatically rule out the possibility that the administration would manipulate troop rotations to achieve a "stealth surge".

Posted by: China Hand on May 22, 2007 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

It is time for direct action. We need to tell every politician we find that they are not getting a dime if they vote for the Reid/Pelosi surrender bill. Not a dime.

The Democrats knew all along they didn't have a veto-proof Congress. To just give in now, means that there is some truth to Bush's claim that they were just engaging in political theater. All able-minded Democrats in Congress should vote against this bill so that if it passes, it is primarily by Republicans.

Posted by: Nemo on May 22, 2007 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Take heart, oh ye of little faith, Democrats won in the mid-terms on ending the Iraq War -- and as Republicans stubbornly persist after that election in efforts to prolong the war Democrats will win again in 2008 on ending it.

So, if the Iraq War is not ended by the time of the 2008 elections by a Republican president and a Democratic Congress, it will be ended soon after --and by a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress.

Posted by: justaminute on May 23, 2007 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Here's my interpretation. Kevin is half right. There is no second secret surge. It’s still the same surge. It’s just a difference between what the surge’s numbers are, and what the serge’s talking points numbers are. The numbers disused in the media are the talking points numbers. These numbers are the peak troop levels during rotation overlap of the surge. This is the surge. They probable intend to reach peak and see how it goes for a while.

It’s everything they can realistically put in Iraq in short order. It’s a hail mary pass. They can’t even maintain it for long but it doesn’t matter. If they can’t show results soon they won’t be able to hold congress back. If they don’t show results they will have to set a pull out date. For them, this is defeat. As has been widely published (permanent bases and all). They never intended to leave in first place.

Posted by: vividvew on May 23, 2007 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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