BY AMY Z. QUINN The common misconception about the Iraq War seems to be that military leadership inserted American troops into a conflict without an exit strategy. In fact, the opposite is true. From the moment American generals — all retired now, by the way — set foot on the sands of Iraq, the mission was to get out as quickly as possible. For Rumsfeld and the Neocons, the Endgame was the whole game. The problem is that the light military footprint game plan didn’t include a strategy for actually winning the war, and in the resulting lawless vacuum a virulent and ever-mutating insurgency took root, and relentlessly picked open the scabs of a centuries-old sectarian bloodlust. And so, four years after declaring Mission Accomplished — in a move that smacks more of political face-saving than sound military strategy, or say, invading Saigon in 1979 — we are finally flooding the zone with an additional 20,000 troops to accomplish that increasingly irrelevant mission. Some would say we are just putting more targets in the shooting gallery.
Tonight’s installment of PBS’ Frontline examines the so-called troop surge, a plan which emerged after a parade of generals and PhDs made their own entrances and exits from Iraq. Indeed, the most disturbing parts of tonight’s episode aren’t the graphic images American soliders felled by sniper fire, or the endless parade of exploding car bombs, or even the now-infamous images of charred bodies strung up on a bridge in Fallujah. What will stay with you is hearing current and former military leaders — the very guys pictured glad-handing in the Oval Office — now describing the troop surge as “a triumph, to some extent, of hope over experience,” speaking of the war as a Shakespearean tragedy only now on its third act.
FRONTLINE: ENDGAME, 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 19th, PBS. Watch a preview here.