Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When Hope Remains Dim

I have been both supportive and critical of our efforts in Iraq. At times, I have made what I believe to be valid assessments and not all of them have been positive. Whether pro or con, the issues are complex and detailed, there is no one answer to any of this.

Yet, the fact remains, we are in a critical phase in the Iraq campaign, right now. The MSM has been remiss in making sure the negative gets much attention (and that much is expected). So it is not wonder there's an Iraq fatigue factor, in play right now. They also downplay or fail to report (altogether), any good news that comes about. That makes it hard to be optinistic about much. So with the understanding that I fully know that not everything I see is a particularly accurate picture (as it pertains to specific events), I still see some things that need to be considered (by those that have the ability and authority to say, yea or nay to whatever they will).

The crux of the matter rests on one straight question and it must be directed towards those that think our present course is good, as is:

What is Plan B going to be, if this surge does not work as hoped?

I have to say, I am not convinced that there is a strong desire on the part of many Iraqis, to be self-reliant and be responsible for their own security and welfare. Any doubts? Read this article from the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) - About one in six Iraqi policemen trained by U.S.-led forces had been lost through attrition by last year—they were killed or wounded, deserted or just disappeared, a senior U.S. military commander said.

And continuing violence is prompting officials again to increase the size of the Iraqi army, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently headed the training effort.

Then, there is this story from The Australian. And then, there this from IHT.

So, in the spirit of healthy debate I will pose some questions for any and all to ponder, or answer.

What is our real objective here now? Is it realistic? Does it give us a good opportunity for success, or is it a long shot? I ask these things because, we need to be thinking about what (if any) our next approach will be, if this surge does not work. Will we stay further and if we do, will it really matter? I really do not see how it can, if the Iraqis don't grow some testes and defend themselves against those that hope to plunge it into civil war.

I have heard some early reports that there was lax security at the Samarra mosque, and frankly, it doesn't surprise me. The Iraqi government is on the take and reeks of putrid corruption, the police and military are not functional, and are infiltrated with agents from the enemy. So all of the troops we have would not be able to get into the hearts of the Iraqis, themselves. All of the resources in the entire military cannot make someone want freedom. And they cannot make them want to defend it, if they do not want it.

Now, I am not saying that pulling out is necessarily the answer. I am not not saying it isn't, either. But folks, the American people are not going to be so long suffering if something doesn't make a turn in a positive direction, and soon. I have to ask myself if I am willing to support much of the same, forever. Mind you, I am not saying that I expect the moon, the stars, and the sun, on a silver platter for my personal enjoyment either. However I want it clear that I am saying, if we have any sense about this, we will look at another path to achieve the same results, if this surge is does not produce satisfactory results. Or we will have to cut our losses, let the Iraqis sink or swim, and find another way to combat the jihadists.

There may come a point in time where we seriously need to consider partitioning the country and let the chips fall where they may. We may have to secretly give them some ultimatums and benchmarks. We may have to pull something else entirely out of our hat, to throw the enemy off guard. We may need to consider that whenever we finally pull back (be it tomorrow or ten years from now), there's going to be a civil war. That's a lot to ponder, I know. But whatever we do, we need to be prepared to do something, because there is much to consider here. The stakes are high now. There is dissension as there has always been from the beginning, but now it's gaining steam from people that are seeing a dependent, floundering, incompetent, and unwilling Iraqi government, use this great nation as a pro bono police force and while the Iraqis are becoming nothing more than welfare recipients, militarily. In short, the gravy train cannot continue indefinitely, without some serious modification in behavior on the part of the Iraqis.

I am not in the mood to watch the US go down for a cause that the Iraqis do not care enough about. I do not want to see us take the heat because they are not willing to defend and protect their fragile democracy. So, to all my my very fine conservative friends that I love and respect dearly (and liberals too), help me understand this from a more intelligent and realistic perspective. Or better yet, help me understand why the Administration is being so rigid in it's approach towards shifting strategies. Help me see that there is a chance and that we will do what it takes to achieve victory in a convincing way. I ask all of this, because I am starting to think that the status quo isn't a good bet, right now. We need a new strategy, before the rug gets pulled out by Congress and it's all for nothing.


ms. miami said...

las- regarding your point on the media, first of all, i would never defend the mainstream american press and avoid it like the plague, so you have no argument from me there.

however, at this point, i really don't think that it matters what "good" things happen. the "bad" things happening are just so bad, that the positive projects taking place, even if given top coverage, can't change the vibe.

as long as scores of civilians (& soldiers) turn up dead day after day, i don't think that anything else matters.

Greg said...

Sure the MSM is to blame for the fatigue you mention. But most of the blame goes squarely on the administration for leading people to believe, back in 2002-03, that the war would be quick, Iraqi oil would flow freely and pay for everything, and we'd be able to leave quickly. Someone should have told them to keep expectations low, give people the worst-case scenario instead of the best-case.

Reality is that even if Iraqis want a tolerant democracy (and the elections proved they did, overwhelmingly), achieving that means revamping an entire society fractured by years of ethnic hatred, oppression by a tyrant, totalitarian control of life, etc. Iraq has never known the rule of law, or a police force that applies rules fairly and equally, or a government that responds to the needs of all citizens instead of those of one small group. So, even if we had the right strategy (don't think we do), it would take at least a generation to see a stable democracy.

So, step one is to level with people and say that even under the best of circumstances, we'll be there for many more years. Second is to work with those we can and destroy those we can't. We've started to do that by enlisting Sunnis/Baathists in the fight against al Qaeda. But we are still not eliminating the other big force for violence: the mahdi army and its racist leader, Sadr. Sadr should be quickly found and hopefully killed when he resists arrest. His army should be hunted down one-by-one and disarmed and/or killed. It's simple: either you cooperate with the people's government, or you die. Think that's harsh? How long would our gov't permit a rebel army to murder people at will, take over police stations, assasinate elected officials, etc? Not, long, IMHO. And no one except the far-left loonies would complain when we smashed the illegal army.

Dividing the country up won't work, primarily because the Sunnis have no reason to accept that. Their territory consists of sand. Can't grow crops. No oil. Nothin'. Plus, Iraqis are not cleanly divided into territory by ethnicity. Are all the Baghdad Sunnis going to have to move to the desert? What about the Iraqi Christians - where will they live? And how long could we expect the Shia part to remain an independent country, before being annexed by Iran? Won't work.

ms. miami said...

So, even if we had the right strategy (don't think we do), it would take at least a generation to see a stable democracy.

greg- i completely agree. societies just can't change so radically so quickly.

What about the Iraqi Christians - where will they live?

it looks like they're all going to sweden!

A.C. McCloud said...

War supporters are reluctant to say, "opt out" or "change strategy" because they think the other side will jump on them and claim victory. It's sad we've gotten to such a juvenile and partisan point over something as serious as this, but we have.

While I agree with Greg that we've made mistakes we can't change the past. Getting rid of Hussein and changing the middle east were noble goals. Indiscriminate carpet bombing was not going to work in a land where young people are taught to hate from day one. We had to try changing their perspective. As you point out, it may not be possible.

Maybe we should just call it a day and hand them victory and see what happens. We could sit by and watch while Iraq, Gaza, Palestine and Lebanon erupt into more flames and watch as Israel takes out Iran's nukes causing a regional war.

Sure, gas might reach 10-15 dollars per gallon, especially with Chavez and others helping their cause, but maybe that would force us into areas of energy exploration not yet thought of. Desperation is a good motivator. Our carbon footprint would certainly be cut.

Hopefully Israel could take care of themselves but my guess is we'd finally see where Saddam's WMDs were hidden. Millions might die. No doubt Russia and China would fill our vacuum and stake out positions due to oil.

Due to retreat we might not see any terrorist attacks here at home so we might be able to weather the economic storm. People would do a lot whining, though.

In the end, hopefully Israel (facing annihilation) would wipe out al Qaeda, Hizballah, and Hamas once and for all but we'd have to face the fact the terrorists might win and turn the Holy Lands into a smoldering hulk.

LASunsett said...

Some interesting comments, for sure. I still am not sure that things are going to work out, even in 20 years. I am not sure the American people will want to endure this, for that long. Certainly not if there is little or no effort being put forth by the Iraqis, themselves.

I agree that the consequences will probably be disastrous if it doesn't work, but what if we do this another five years and we are at the same point we are now? Training an army and swatting flies will not make the Iraqis want to be independent and free.

But, thanks for the comments folks. I will continue to ponder things. And understand that I have a lot of things I have thought about that I will not put into the blogosphere, because I would not want to compromise anything that the government may be trying to do, by speculating and it getting into the wrong hands.