President Bush is apparently preparing a fairly major policy proposal concerning Iraq. According to this AP report, Bush intends to announce that troop levels will be increased, as well as programs to improve the unemployment situation, such as direct loans to Iraqi businesses.
As many congressmen are already noting, a troop increase will not work unless it is directly tied to specific policy goals and benchmarks for gauging progress. What goals and benchmarks? As I have written about many times before, the single most important move will be challenging the various militias that are undermining the authority of the government and doing so much damage. One only need to look at the fallout from the chaotic execution of Saddam Hussein for an example of how badly sectarian division is stressing the country.
I believe a winning strategy is still possible. So long as the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds still seem to have some possibility of cooperating and participating in the central government, it is still possible to forge a successful country. This is why I've been so resistant to calling the situation a "civil war." The government still exists and, as of yet, the mainstream Sunnis and Shiites are still attempting to make it work. If Bush is willing to risk the political fallout from increased fighting and casualties, and if he wants to give winning its best chance, he must increase the troops for the purpose of destroying the militias and strengthening the Iraqi government. If, however, he increases the boots on the ground without changing their mission, all hope is lost.