November 16, 2006

The Dems want to set a timetable for withdrawal in the next 4-6 months.

The President is waiting for a special commission to tell him what to do.

The Iraqi government is reeling from the latest wave of violence and kidnappings.

Bye, bye Donald Rumsfeld, hello, Robert Gates.

So I ask: where the HELL is the goddamned leadership around here? And where, pray tell, is the President – you know, the Commander-in-Chief? He was everywhere the weeks leading up to the election, where has he gone since – into hiding? And where are the conservative bloggers (like here and here and here) on this? We’re always so quick to point out the Democrats’ failings and foolish strategy on Iraq, but why aren’t we seeing conservatives call the President out? Is this what we get from our head of state after an election gone south – crickets chirping? This nation, and its military and their families, deserve better.

Now is not the time for our elected leaders to go into hiding or get passive about Iraq. The only thing certain about the mess there these days is that the forecast is for more of the same unless the equation changes. Clearly, we’re in a strange no-man’s land waiting for the Iraqi forces to get up to speed and in significant enough numbers to make a difference and reduce their reliance on coalition (primarily American) forces. The question is, if nothing changes soon, what will there be left in Iraq for Iraqi forces to rely on? And what can be done to turn the situation around – if, in fact, it can be turned around?

Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not looking to bash the Prez or scapegoat anyone. Like most people, I’m just looking for answers. Excuse me if I don’t hold my breath waiting for anything dramatic from our elected leaders. Typical politicians – always quick to put our brave men and women’s lives into harm’s way, but heaven forbid if the going ever gets rough. And that holds true for Republicans and Democrats, from the White House on down. I’ll admit it – I expected more, and I’m disgusted.

Which is why I’ve started looking elsewhere for answers to the question: what to do about Iraq?

In today’s New York Post, Ralph Peters offers up his view that it’s time to get back on the offensive and start killing the bad guys, whoever they are and wherever they may be, no matter what the cost:

With Iraqi society decomposing – or, at best, reverting to a medieval state with cell phones – the debate in Washington over whether to try to save the day by deploying more troops or withdrawing some is of secondary relevance.

What really matters is what our forces are ordered – and permitted – to do. With political correctness permeating our government and even the upper echelons of the military, we never tried the one technique that has a solid track record of defeating insurgents if applied consistently: the rigorous imposition of public order.

That means killing the bad guys. Not winning their hearts and minds, placating them or bringing them into the government. Killing them.

If you’re not willing to lay down a rule that any Iraqi or foreign terrorist masquerading as a security official or military member will be shot, you can’t win. And that’s just one example of the type of sternness this sort of fight requires.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

The good folks at Red State aren’t sitting on their heels. Today, they’ve posted a number of excellent and probing columns on Iraq, asking the kinds of questions and offering up the kinds of practical solutions that our elected leaders should be debating and considering. To give you an idea of some of their excellent posts, here are some worthwhile excerpts:

* Robert Hahn says the job is done, and since the Iraqis don’t want to play nice with one another, it’s time to get the hell out:

I had no problem taking out Saddam Hussein. And I believe that having done that, mostly for our own benefit, we owed the Iraqis an opportunity to construct a new government for themselves free of outside interference. And indeed there was outside interference, and I believe that we have done a good job of eliminating that.

However, it has become increasingly obvious in recent months that most of the violence now taking place in Iraq is among various flavors of Iraqis, and that the Iraqis themselves seem more involved with settling old scores and indulging in tribal and sectarian rivalries than in taking advantage of any “opportunity” to do otherwise. The American people have tired of having our soldiers blown up while they do that.

* Pejman Yousefzadeh is one of my RS favorites, and one whose opinions on Iraq I happen to share. His view is that Iraq is a regional problem, and every player in the region has a vested interest in establishing a peaceful and secure Iraq – most especially, the Iraqis themselves. But if no one gives a you-know-what, then there’s no point in us staying there. And if that happens (my bolding)…

Withdrawing American troops at this stage will do nothing to bring peace and quiet in Iraq. On the contrary, it will only create a power vacuum that will be filled by insurgents bound and determined to make Iraq their base of operations, just as Afghanistan was the base of operations for al Qaeda until the end of 2001. Sectarian strife and civil war will loom larger over the horizon absent American troops. I do not like writing this; nothing would give me greater pleasure than to argue that the Iraqis can now take over their own country and that American troops can come home. But that is just not in the cards right now. It is one thing to press the Iraqis to take over their own country. It is quite another to ditch them before they are ready to do so and to undermine our own security interests, our capability to deter threats and our general credibility in the process.

A final word: Iraq is an artificial state whose boundaries were drawn by Western powers. Should the Iraqi people wish to maintain those boundaries, their wishes should be respected. But if the Iraqi people are willing to consider it, neither partition nor a dramatic degree of federalization should be left off the table. Indeed, the circumstances on the ground appear more and more to make partition and/or federalization options that must be seriously considered . . . and possibly soon implemented.

* Dan McLaughlin shares Peters’ view (above) that it’s time to stop playing nice and lower the boom on instigators like radical Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and others like him, and that includes Iran:

While I don’t agree with all of his diagnoses of the Iraq situation, Ralph Peters is dead on the money …that Sadr must be killed and it is up to us to do it, because Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is clearly afraid of Sadr and accedes to his demands. If we do not kill Sadr now, we will live to regret the decision.

Sadr is an enemy for three reasons. First, of course, he has from the outset been virulently anti-American and made open war against our troops. Second, he is the chief progenitor of Shi’ite violence, especially in Baghdad, and the chief rival to the elected government for the allegiance of Shi’ites. And third, it is increasingly clear that his resources come from Iranian support, and therefore he cannot be regarded solely as a domestic Iraqi problem. And if we allow an Iranian proxy to make war on us without consequence, this does become like Vietnam, where the nation that landed at Normandy, Okinawa and Inchon was never willing, even after smashing the North Vietnamese military in the Tet offensive, to land a major force up the coast, seize Hanoi and force the enemy to its knees.

* Mark I believes the ultimate, and perhaps best, course may lie in the imposition of a model we used to establish order in Afghanistan:

How, then, can the Afghan model be applied to Iraq today? The two major lessons that I believe can be taken out of the Afghan campaign are:

1. To invest responsibility for the security and direction of the country in the hands of agreed upon indigenous leaders as soon as possible after the overthrow of an existing government; and

2. To secure the capital first and build outward to the outlying provinces.

America still has the opportunity to apply both of these lessons to Iraq and perhaps change the direction of the effort there.

First, the United States should continue to train and advise Iraqi army and police units. But the numbers of units so trained should be a decision taken by the Iraqi national and provincial governments. Furthermore, the national and provincial governments should be given complete responsibility for the units’ performance. Iraqi government members should bear the burden of the ability of these well trained forces to establish law and order and quell the violence. Before the mid-term elections, Prime Minister al-Maliki was requesting that control of the security forces be turned over completely to the Iraqi government. He should get his wish and all of the responsibility that comes along with it.

Second, American forces now stationed in relatively peaceful areas of the country should be drawn in to bases around Baghdad. These units should operate in conjunction with, but not under the control of, the Iraqi government forces in the city in a major push to secure the capital. I am not a tactician, but this effort should include: security cordons; visibility patrols, both joint and separate; and targeted raids on known insurgent hideouts. The raids can be, but by no means should they only be, undertaken as a result of intelligence sharing with the Iraqis. The troop presence in Baghdad, both American and Iraqi, must be dramatically increased. As long as the capital is not secured, the perception will be that the entire country is in a state of chaos. Once Baghdad is pacified, resistance in the remainder of the country will dramatically decrease as the inevitability of the Iraqi government’s survival becomes clear.

There are other posters there, and all of their columns are worth reading in their entirety; I encourage you to check them all out. Agree or disagree, it sure is a hell of a lot more intelligent and reasoned than the hysterical “let’s get the hell out of here, and now!” bleatings of the Democratic leadership about to take control of Congress and/or the apparent absence of our Commander-in-Chief.

There are no easy answers in Iraq, and to run away and hide, or reduce it to an intellectually lazy and misguided replay of Vietnam is not fair to either the Iraqi people, the brave men and women risking life and limb over there, or the American people who, with good reason, have serious misgivings about the state of things there. It is only through serious debate, an honest appraisal of the situation and every option available to us, and a multi-faceted and creative solution that the American people can get the leadership they deserve.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:33 | Comments Off on What To Do About Iraq?
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