SURGING AHEAD WITH THE NEW STRATEGERY
Staring contest: go! SFC Pickerel meets his match.
photo by Buck Sargent
War is not the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you.
To the apparent chagrin of the new Congressional majority, President Bush has announced that we're moving forward with a renewed commitment in Iraq. So what does this mean precisely?
Some units already in country will have their tours extended, others will have their deployment schedule ramped up... been there, done that, got the ironically premature t-shirt. Okay, so it's not exactly pleasant for those affected, but in the end what it really constitutes is more of a Pentagon paper shuffle than an "escalation." Very few troops not already in Iraq or not already slated to go have been activated.
But haven't we been down this road before? (And I don't mean the editorial "we"). Whatever happened to Operation Together Forward? I'll tell you what happened: it should have been called “Operation Ass Backwards” in that it was a meaningless photo-op assignment from the get-go that lacked the political will necessary to put our additional forces to any good use. I had predicted as much from the start. We were never allowed to do what it is we do best: take the gloves off, seek out the enemy, and destroy him.
Whenever you hear someone state that there is "no military solution in Iraq, only a diplomatic or political one," consider that code for "I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about." There is indeed still a military solution, it simply has never been tried. "Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons," admitted the individual the MSM has dubbed the Man Who Blew Too Much. "There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have."
In other words, making like a tree and getting out of there didn't quite work out as well as it must have looked on paper, much less in the papers. It was an exit in search of a strategy rather than the other way around. A quagmire is only a quagmire in so much as you're stuck in the suck and SOL. But Iraq is no hopeless basket case, it simply has a few difficult and seemingly intractable problems that only seem intractable because the country's most notable failures are directly linked to it's most notable successes. Democracy is as democracy does.
Sadr's Mahd Squads are producing Muslim body counts in Baghdad at a rate that would impress Jack Bauer circa Season Four. They stage so many fake checkpoints throughout the capital that residents call driving to work "Iraqi Roulette." But these guys also control a significant voting block in parliament. They're not fighting the government, they are the government. Don't vote or we'll kill you. (But if you do vote, you better vote for us or you're really gonna get it!)
One thing you've got to understand about lower class Iraqis: they love their strongmen. You've heard of Sadr City? Lovely place. Well, it used to be called Saddam City, at least until it's prime benefactor relocated to a deluxe apartment in the ground. Out with the old, in with the bold. Only in this case, the new landlord is reported to be just like the previous one, minus the compassion. You know how it is with a copy of a copy.
Would taking out Sadr himself do any good at this point? Probably not. Like any mafia don, he'd only be replaced with another lieutenant waiting in the wings. The Iraqis government needs to dismantle his organization themselves, not only to prove they have the military might but that they possess the political will to clean their own house.
Where does that leave our own forces? Much has been made about the ever-shifting sands that dictate our ROEs, but it's our own ROPE (Rules of Previous Engagements) that have us really tied down in the desert. We've become so dominant militarily -- so far ahead of the competition technically, tactically, and technologically -- that we now routinely get booed for running up the score. Unfortunately, Islamists don't recognize fair play. But they do recognize cultural squeamishness for what it is: a fundamental weakness to be exploited.
- Insurgent revolving door justice
- Mosque armory sanctuaries
- Politically connected untouchables
- Failure to identify, protect, and fully develop civilian sources
- Over-reliance on local sources with their own agendas
"This will not be a campaign of half measures," stated President Bush at the outset of the invasion, "and we will accept no outcome except victory."
Nearly four hard years later that initial assertion has been proven wrong. But the veracity of the latter is up to all of us now. To fight on is no guarantee of success, but to quit prematurely is a guarantee of failure. The Commander-in-Chief has chosen to press on; whether the new Congress decides to help or hinder depends ultimately on which option you choose.
It's your call. Choose wisely.