Saturday, June 23, 2007

Shinseki Was Right

Even as discussion continues over whether the "surge" of troops in Iraq will succeed, a central truth is overlooked: General Shinseki was right.

In 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, General Eric Shinseki testified before Congress and was asked about the troop levels needed to maintain order in Iraq after an invasion, and he replied that "several hundred thousand" troops would be needed.

This estimate was immediately ridiculed by (among others) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. But Shinseki's estimate was not based on the same kind of wishful thinking (or denial of reality) that dominated Rumsfeld's administration, but was based on military history. And, as it turned out, he was right. The troop levels planned for post-invasion Iraq were not sufficient.

And Shinseki is still right. Adding 20,000 troops in a "surge" does not produce the "several hundred thousand" needed to maintain security in Iraq. Talk about tactics and strategies can't overcome the fact that there simply aren't enough troops there, and there never have been and never will be.

Only when the Bush administration understands that reality will there be any hope for progress in Iraq.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Punishments Imposed

Today, a federal judge imposed a sentence of 30 months in prison for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, for lying to federal investigators and obstructing the investigation into leaks of the identity of a CIA agent, Valeria Pflame, whose husband published reports critical of the Bush administration's intelligence about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction."

In related news, the American people were sentenced to 19 more months of the Bush administration.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Iraqi Exports

The recent fighting between the Lebanese army and armed insurgents who had been trained and fought in Iraq demonstrates that Iraq is indeed exporting terrorists, exactly as predicted by last year's National Intelligence Estimate.

So what to do?

The easiest way for America to stop the violence in Iraq, and so stop the breeding of new terrorists, is for us to stop fighting.

That's right. We should give up and go home.

Without an enemy to fight, the insurgents will have no reason to make more bombs and no reason to train new fighters. And how will they recruit new fighters if there is no enemy to fight? No new terrorists means that there will be no terrorists to export. Problem solved.

But could Iraq then become another pre-9/11 Afghanistan, controlled by anti-American terrorists who use the country as a base of operations? Possible, but not likely.

Exactly who we're fighting in Iraq is not always clear, but the insurgents attacking U.S. troops seem to belong to a number of different groups that want the United States out of Iraq in particular and the middle east in general. One of those groups is Al Qaeda, but that doesn't mean that all insurgents are Al Qaeda. There are other groups just as opposed to the U.S. presence in Iraq who are also just as opposed to Al Qaeda, and would probably be working to oust Al Qaeda from Iraq if they didn't hate the U.S. even more.

So take the U.S. forces out of the picture, and what happens? Conventional "wisdom" (brought to us by the same people who have been wrong about everything in Iraq) is that, in the absence of the American military, the insurgents will begin using Iraq and a base for terrorism (which they are already doing). But it is also just as likely that, without a common enemy to fight, the differing goals of foreign (Al Qaeda/international) insurgents and native (nationalist) insurgents would rise to the surface, and the native insurgents would begin trying to drive the foreigners from their country.

Fanaticism is redoubling your efforts when you've forgotten your goal and, by that measure, the Bush administration is fanatical. If the goal is to defend the United States against global terrorism, then continuing military efforts in Iraq is exactly the wrong thing to do. By invading a middle eastern country, we gave Al Qaeda the kind of war it wanted. We created a jihad for them, because they are now defending a Muslim country against infidels. And we gave them a war they can win, because they can use guerrilla tactics against a conventional army. By continuing to fight in Iraq, we are strengthening Al Qaeda, not weakening it.

When continuing to fight simply makes things worse, you finally have to ask if the solution is not more troops but fewer troops. The real question is not "how can we win in Iraq" but "how can we win the war on global terror," and to the second question the answer is to begin withdrawing American forces from Iraq.