The President is getting ready to announce his way forward in Iraq. He plans on interrupting our Wednesday night with a bold pronouncement that he (like John McCain and Joe Lieberman) support the idea of a limited increase in troops in the hope that it will make some difference.
The truth is this adding of a few troops is a fools errand. Iraq needed 350,000 to 500,000 troops 3 years ago. At this point it is doubtful that even that number of troops could do much to improve the security of the nation. We face a hard choice that our leaders are refusing to accept. I was listening to the news on the radio this morning and this clumsy and most likely deeply flawed medical analogy popped into my head.
A person is in an accident they have a number of injuries, mostly minor, some more serious, but their leg is badly damaged. It has been crushed, twisted, mangled; it is a total wreck.
The doctors look at it and then place a call to a few experts on major trauma. When they are asked for their opinion, they advise that there are two main options available. The first is to accept that the leg can not be saved, remove it, and concentrate of the other injuries. The second is that with major intervention, there is a chance (maybe not real great, but a chance) that both the persons life and the leg can be saved. It will me a major undertaking, making huge demands on the staff and resources of the hospital, and may require getting help from other health care providers. Even if the leg is saved, it may never function well, and they are again advised that there is an overwhelming likelihood it will not work.
The doctors in charge take in all the information, and decide that while they can not stomach the thought of removing the leg (no one is losing a leg on their watch), they also lack resources to do an effective reconstruction of the leg. So they decide on a new path (a medical surge) to put the leg in a splint, give the injured man a couple of aspirin, and see what happens.
For the Bush administration this surge is just a stall. He is taking the very Nixonesq path, his only goal is to not lose the war. We lack the resources to do the job right without making huge sacrifices, and calling in help. The idea of withdrawal will not be considered, so we are asked to put a splint on it, take a couple of aspirin and want for the next shift to come in.