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And Then, Crack Down on the Squeegee Guys

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called yesterday for increasing the size of the standing Army by nearly 100,000 troops -- something that Mitt Romney has suggested he was planning to call for. It's amazing, Romney first started pointing to mistakes in the conduct of the war in December, just before Bush started publicly acknowledging mistakes; and now he's right in line with Bush's every policy announcement. It's like he and George W. are channeling each others' brain waves.

Romney mentioned the troop increase during the same radio interview -- with Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame -- that served as the basis for the video clip making the YouTube rounds. (That's the clip of Romney explaining away his 1994 self, as seen in clips from a debate with Ted Kennedy that hit the YouTube circuit a day earlier.) In the Reynolds interview, which is available as a podcast, Romney says that he is currently working with his advisors on a foreign policy platform, but that he is leaning toward calling for an increase in the size of the Army, "probably a little lower" than the 200,000-250,000 range that Robert Kagan has recommended.

Romney also said that he wants a "much stronger military," including the Strategic Defense Initiative (aka Star Wars), and that we should be marshalling all of our resources to "move the world of Islam toward modernity and moderation."

Meanwhile one of his potential opponents, Rudy Giuliani, had been fumbling to get his footing in the new, "Ok, we admit Iraq's a mess" world of American conservatism. Giuliani's tentativeness is a real problem for a guy whose entire raison de candidacy rests on his image of strong leadership. But he got his sea legs at last Wednesday, by deciding that Iraq circa 2007 is essentially the same as Gotham circa 1994, when a certain take-charge tough guy took over as Mayor of the Big Apple.

It started with Giuliani, in a pre-Bush-speech press release, talking about the need to track the successes and gaps in the troop surge strategy, with constant reports at a neighborhood-to-neighborhood level.... oh, I don't know, let's just call it Compstat for short, maybe? Then he started adding more explicit NYC comparisons in TV interviews. And today, he's gone whole hog with it, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored with Newt Gingrich. You see, "There are many lessons from the successful welfare reforms in New York City that can be readily applied in Iraq.... Too many neighborhoods were pervaded by a sense of hopelessness that came from a combination of high crime, high unemployment and despair."

Stopping sectarian violence over control of Iraq is a lot like keeping kids out of gangs, it turns out: "The goal is to get more Iraqis working, especially young males, who are most susceptible to the terrorist and warlord recruiters," write G&G. Just think of the Sunnis and Shi'ites as the Bloods and Crips, or perhaps the Jets and Sharks. Open a few factories, they recommend. Deep down, suicide bombers would rather be stocking shelves; if only Sadr City Home Depot was hiring!

You see, just like welfare mothers in Bed-Stuy, sectarian fighters just want a hand up, not a handout. "
Jump starting civic improvement and the individual work ethic in Iraq, without creating permanent subsidies" is the ticket, the article says. "This change from welfare to work did as much as the New York Police Department Compstat program to keep reducing crime. A similar model can work in Iraq."


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