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More on Iraq

from Michael O’Hanlon, et al. There is optimism regarding military matters, and pessimism regarding the Iraqi political stalemate. The focus now shifts. Bush’s allusion (while in Iraq) to pulling some troops out now that the military situation has been made better should now force Iraqi politicians to act. We’ll see a lot of Iraq bashing and troop praising from the Congress now.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Optimism and pessimism are often in the eye of the beholder, the transparent result of a political predisposition. That reality can lead to strategic decisions that can either impede progress or accelerate problems.

Applying these subjective standards to war is particularly misguided because it suggests that the presence of optimism or absence of pessimism are the key determinants of victory or defeat.

Imagine the what might have happened in December 1944 just before the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, if we allowed such thinking to control our strategy.

Our commanders knew it was Hitler's last attempt to prevail and that it would be a bloody mess. Indeed, in the course of just three weeks there were 76,000 casualties.

Was it worth it? We now know it was, but contemporaneously there was every reason to question it and if our leaders used contemporary standards the outcome might well have been different.

Although debate is healthy, the war in Iraq should not be as contentious as it is, for the simple reason that if we withdraw before it's adequately stable the Middle East will descend in to true chaos, with Iran taking full control.

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Phil Mella

If we have the will to pacify Iraq, we can pacify Iraq. It's merely a question of will. Unfortunately, Bush was content to dither and allow the Pentagon to play one round of whack-a-mole after another. If we needed more troops, then those troops should have been deployed. And this rush to withdraw troops is foolish as well. Troop levels have fluctuated, and we've always had to increase levels after a draw down.

This squalid rush to withdraw forces only indicates the lack of seriousness in Washington. The stakes are huge. Yet the whole world sees an America desperate to withdraw forces. It doesn't see an America absolutely determined to prevail, whatever difficulties may present themselves. The whole world knows the Iranians are trifling with us, and getting away it. They're bleeding us daily, and doing so with impunity.

Absent the eradication of the Iranian menace, the only message our war effort has truly sent is one of American fecklessness and irresponsibility.

Our response to 9/11 was supposed to say "don't mess with the United States." But as soon we took Kabul Bush started his journey through the United Nations. And ever since, we've been losing the moral, cultural, political and strategic clarity that we had on the afternoon of September 11th.

There is a profound want of strategic clarity, as well as a want for an OVERALL strategic objective.

Deliberately vague descriptions of our enemies hinder the war effort. Deliberately gliding over the role that islam plays in the war only hinders the American people understanding the stakes. Some bemoan the American people losing interest in pacifying Iraq. It's natural, they haven't been told who the enemy is. They haven't heard the horrors perpetuated by that enemy throughout history. Instead they've been offered whitewashed versions of history, so naturally they're unaware of the true scope of the historical drama unfolding. The phrase "war on terror" confuses, it does not illuminate. It obscures our true enemy; it doesn't reveal the contours of the strategic landscape.

Let's be blunt. If we allow doctrines of limited war coupled with political correctness to dictate our foreign policy and our war effort, defeat is almost a foregone conclusion. It's really that simple. The professionalism and courage of the American combat infantryman is insufficient to overcome the vacuum at the center of our strategic thinking.

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