The Urge to Surge

by Chris Borgen

The following is from the Times of London, via Talking Points Memo (emphasis mine):

Frederick Kagan, 36, is the author of Choosing Victory, a blueprint for the surge adopted by President George W Bush. Just as everybody had begun writing off the influence of the neocons at the White House, genial, chubby-faced Frederick gave the muscular intellectuals a lease of life.

It was at Camp David last June that Kagan, a military historian and fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, outlined his plans for pouring more troops into Iraq to Bush and his war cabinet.

Donald Rumsfeld, the then defence secretary, was unimpressed, but Kagan’s views got another hearing when Bush was searching for ways to ditch the seemingly defeatist recommendations of James Baker’s Iraq Study Group. “Wow, you mean we can still win this war?” a grateful Bush reportedly said.

Not the most auspicious of comments… (and, without slighting Kagan, if a Republican ex-Secretary of State/ Secretary of the Treasury/White House Chief-of-Staff nicknamed “the Velvet Hammer” suggests this is not a good idea and we should try diplomacy, I’d go with the Velvet Hammer)

By the way, besides their description of Frederick Kagan, The Times article includes a brief but interesting profile of the Kagan family, including patriarch Donald Kagan, classicist, expert on the Peloponnesian War, and signator of the founding declaration of the neocons’ Project for a New American Century; brother Robert Kagan from the Carnegie Endowment for Interational Peace and author(among many other articles) of the controversial (but I think insightful) article on the growing trans-atlantic rift over use of force issues entitled Power and Weakness, that included the oft-quoted line “Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus.” (The book the article grew into, Of Paradise and Power, is reviewed here).

The Times didn’t mention Kimberly Kagan but, given that she’s a military historian with expertise in the Peloponnesian War (She was one of the discussants mentioned in this post ), I’ll go out on a limb and guess she’s in the family, too.

One Response

  1. I imagine the President’s comment is largely robbed of context here. It is probable he’s making light of the rather downbeat tone of the Baker study group.

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