In my view, there is much to be said for expanding troop levels in Iraq, but only if it is done as part of a wider policy. Simply expanding troops without taking other actions will be problematic. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration shows no signs that it understands this. In the past, I might have cut them some slack -- I might have assumed that they knew things like this and that their failure to make statements to that effect did not mean that they were ignorant of them. But no more. Throughout the last three years, the Bush Administration has regulararly made bad calls, and each time I assumed that they had some reason for the action. It turns out, they did not appear to have good reasons -- for not attacking terrorists in Fallujah immediately, for not killing Sadr, or for not protecting the borders.
Here are some interesting thoughts from Victor Davis Hanson about what actions to take along with expanding troop levels. I am not sure about all of them, but many seem sensible and one wonders why they haven't been adopted already.
If we add another 30,000 or so troops to Iraq, in a final effort to win the war, then we must change (widen) the rules of engagement. Only that way can America ensure that it simply does not create more targets for the insurgents, add a larger logistical trail, and ensure more Iraqi dependency on our soldiers.
Those rules include:
Putting Iran and Syria on notice that we will bomb terrorists flocking across their borders.
Give an ultimatum to militia heads, especially Moqtadar Sadr, to disband or face annihilation from the United States.
Expand the rules of engagement in all matters dealing with IEDs, with a shoot on sight rule concerning anyone found implanting or aiding such efforts.
Enlarge the planned Iraqi security forces to near 400,000, and embed far more Americans in those units.
So spell out the mission, the new rules of engagement, and then, and only then, surge—if need be— more troops.