Interviewed on this morning’s Today programme the Conservative leader said that an increase in US troop deployments in Baghdad might be the right approach if it was part of a broader strategy to reconcile Iraq’s Sunni, Shia and Kurdish groups.  President Bush is expected to announce a deployment surge next week.  The report on the BBC website is slightly inaccurate.  Mr Cameron did not give any encouragement to the idea that more troops might be necessary in the British patrolled area of Iraq.  He said that the British officers he had met on his pre-Christmas visit to Iraq had said that extra troops were not necessary.

An excellent case for more American troops in Iraq was recently made in The Weekly Standard by Professor William Stuntz.  Stuntz notes that casualty rates have actually fallen when adequate troop numbers have been deployed:

"Between November 2004 and February 2005, according to the Brookings Institution’s Iraq Index, the number of coalition soldiers in Iraq rose by 18,000. In that time, the number of Iraqi civilians killed fell by two-thirds, and the number of American troops wounded fell by three-fourths. The soldiers were soon pulled out; by the summer of 2005, American and Iraqi casualties rose again. Later that year, the same thing happened again. Between September and November of 2005, another 23,000 soldiers were deployed in Iraq; once again, both Iraqi and American casualties fell. In the early months of 2006, the number of soldiers fell again, and casualties spiraled up."

Stuntz also called for a return to what military historian Russell Weigley has called ‘the American way of war’:

"Overwhelm the enemy–instead of investing just enough, invest far too much. Make sure the other side knows that our capacity to give and take punishment immeasurably exceeds their capacity to absorb and inflict it… Counterinsurgency warfare is more about protecting than killing – like a nationwide exercise in community policing. And the lesson of the 1990s in American cities is that the best way to reduce the level of criminal violence is to put more cops on the street. The lesson of the past three years in Iraq is the same: If the goal is to cut our losses, the best move is not to pull back, but to dive in – flood the zone, put as many boots as possible on the most violent ground. Do that, and before long, the ground in question will be a good deal less violent."

The Tory leader – who opposes the death penalty – said that the execution of Saddam Hussein had been "Pretty grisly" and its handling had been "quite wrong."  He said that he still believed that it had been right to end Saddam’s leadership of Iraq but the decisions taken since the invasion had been "extremely poor."  He highlighted the disbandment of the former regime’s police and armed forces.

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