I was tooling around town in the Doghousemobile this afternoon and heard Fred Kaplan taking on the Surge Mentality, and specifically Fred Kagan's part in it, which led me to his Slate piece on the subject, which is well worth a read.
(One highlight: After 9/11 Congress authorized an increase of 35,000 troops. In the interim we've raised 23,000. Five years, just over 4,000 troops/year. Our training maximum seems to be about 7,000/year. In three years now of researching the subject I had never come across that figure, though I'd kept an eye out. I always assumed we were not overly willing to spread those sorts of numbers around--the military has been fairly coy about recruitment numbers in recent years, for example. Of course I don't have Lexis/Nexis and I may have overlooked it somewhere, but I suspect that there's a new willingness out there to lay this stuff on the line before we compound our Fuck Up in the name of De-Fucking Up.)
The big question now is: where does John McCain, e.g., get off in suggesting 20,000, 50,000, or whatever number anyone wants to dredge up additional troops when we don't have them, except as an accounting trick? These are the people who were in charge through all of this. They're the ones who kept insisting we were making progress. They're the ones who claimed the call for a draft was "playing politics".
Well, it was. But it was also "playing Reality."
Oh, one more note: not that anyone other than Tim Russert can possibly imagine something coming out of Dick Cheney's mouth is worth listening to, but the idea that we could just go in and start wiping out Sunnis with impunity has already been disproven, even absent the idiocy of imagining a monolithic Shi'a. Everybody hates us more than they hate each other, though God knows why that might be.