… bombs are already being dropped in Iraq in 2007 at almost twice the rate of the previous year. In this sense, the Afghan model is available as an example of things to come, as is the historical model of the Vietnam War in the period in which President Richard Nixon was employing what might now be called the “Gates Plan.” It was then called “Vietnamization.” Nixon was intent on withdrawing all American ground combat troops, while leaving behind tens of thousands of American advisors, who were to continue training the South Vietnamese military, as well as sizeable numbers of troops to guard our enormous bases in that country. Not surprisingly, that period saw an unprecedented escalation of the air war over South Vietnam. It was a time of unparalleled (but under-reported) brutality, destruction, and carnage in the Vietnamese countryside.
Any similar “Iraqification” plan would surely have an equivalent effect, the gap in manpower being plugged by air power. And the Washington “consensus” Gates hopes for is already forming. The two leading Democratic candidates for President, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, adhere to it. Both call for “withdrawal” from Iraq, but define withdrawal (as Gates would) as the “redeployment” of U.S. “combat brigades” (possibly less than half the American forces in that country at present).