What can we say of this proposal? Simply this: to imagine that 170,000 troops will accomplish what 140,000 troops failed to do in nearly four years or that marching a handful of additional combat brigades into the maw of Baghdad will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat qualifies as pure fantasy. Kagan’s “surge” is the first cousin to Kenneth Adelman’s more famous “cakewalk.” It is ideology dressed up as strategy. Marketed as the product of careful analysis, the surge should be seen for what it is: a naked gamble. Tacitly acknowledging the point, some proponents even refer to it as the “double down” option.
That in places like AEI and the editorial offices of The Weekly Standard Kagan himself has emerged as the man of the hour testifies to the depth of neoconservative desperation. Kagan’s insistence that his surge will do the trick postpones the neoconservative day of reckoning. Believe Kagan and you can avoid for at least a bit longer having to confront Iraq’s incontrovertible lessons: that preventive war doesn’t work, that American power has limits, that the world is not infinitely malleable, and that grasping for “benign global hegemony” is a self-defeating proposition.
Indeed, the very niggardliness of Kagan’s plan testifies to the core problem to which neoconservatives refuse to own up. Between their professed aspirations and the means at hand to pursue those aspirations there yawns a massive gap. ~Andrew Bacevich