Thursday, June 22, 2006

Winning in Iraq

To those who disagree with my point of view: I know I can not change your mind on the subject of the war in Iraq any more than you can change mine. However, I hope you take the time to read this post, because it is in response to questions you have raised, in my mind, in your own blogs. Yes, it's true, I read your blogs with an open mind. Even if you feel that you have heard all this before, please try to return the courtesy I have afforded you. Maybe I can stimulate some thought from this presentation, and we can have a meaniingful dialogue. Comments are more than welcome, either here or at my forum. Please try to refrain from name calling or personal attacks.

It is, perhaps, my military training and experience that makes me think this way, but I have a deep conviction that, once a mission is begun, it should be continued to full accomplishment. No matter what the initial reason for being on the mission was, the need for victory, in the situation as it exists today, is vital.
Don't talk to me about Saddam's genocide, wmd's, threats against the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel, or Jordon. Don't make an issue, now, about Saddam paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers who killed Israelis, or his dealings with al Qaeda. That war ended three years ago, with the end of Saddam's reign.
Those reasons mean nothing now, that mission was accomplished.

The conflict we are engaged in now is against a different enemy. When Saddam's government fell, the very same Islamist extremists who engineered the September 11, 2001 attack against the United States, took the opportunity to try to extablish their own government in Iraq, one which would give them the power of having their own country with its resources and people. It is against those people we are fighting and the defeat of al Qaeda is our mission.

Al Queda's stated mission--and this is from the mouth and pen of Usama Bin Ladin himself--is to create a Jihadi Caliphate in what he calls "Mesopotania." Once established, the goal of the Caliphate would be to spread the Jihad world-wide, and to destroy the Infidels of Western Civilization.

Bin Ladin deployed part of his military forces in Iraq with full confidence that he would be able to easily take Iraq--precedence set in Somalia told him that the Americans would leave as soon as the situation got difficult, as he told his generals, or "Emirs" in Iraq.

Admittedly, there were mistakes made. If the coalition forces had gone on to remove Saddam from power in 1991, the Iraqis would have been ready to take over the government, and we would not have had the problems we are experiencing now. There would still have been a Baathi insurgency, but the majority of Iraqis were united against Saddam. Our failure to follow through at the time created anti-American sentiments among some Iraqis, who felt we had let them down, especially since they had to suffer under Saddam for the next twelve years.

Furthermore, when Saddam was removed from power in 2003, we made the mistake of disbanding the Iraqi Army. This created resentment among the former army members, and gave Bin Ladin recruits and resources, as well as giving measure to the Sunni insurgency.

Should we have provided enough troops to secure the oil fields and oil production facilities? Assuredly, if we had done so, it would have been percieved by the rest of the world that America was there to steal the Iraqi oil resources. In that case, we would have been looked upon even less favorably by the rest of the world than we are now.

There have been atrocities. Those in the American military who abused their positions as prison guards and interrogators have been arrested and convicted, and are now in prison themselves. It has been made clear that their methods are not the methods of the United States Military Services. There are soldiers in detention now, facing charges of murder. It must be made clear that we are not there to murder innocent Iraqi citizens.

War is never desirable. Any politician, statesman, or military person will tell you that.There will be innocent civilian casulties, especially when the enemy is using them as human shields. We are fighting an enemy which does not wear uniforms. Not that this would, by any means, justify civilian deaths during the course of battle, but the wholesale murder of innocent civilians is the order of battle for Al Qaeda.. This is why they are called "terrorists," and their method "terrorism."

We want the Iraqis to be on our side. Al Qaeda wants to pit Iraqi against Iraqi, to create a civil war, and to make a failure of the new government. We know this not only from the notes of the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi, but from his actions, framing the Sunnis in the bombing of the Golden Mosque, using Iraqi Army uniforms to put blame on the Iraqi government when kidnapping and murdering Sunni Muslims.

As I write this, US and Iraqi security forces are rooting out insurgents in Ramadi, where two American soldiers were kidnapped, tortured, mutilated and murdered. Abu al Masri, the Egyptian al Queda general who replaced al Zarqawi in Iraq, publicly took full credit for that atrocity. The Iraqi Army has established a base in that city. Al Qaeda is in danger of losing another base of operations. What needs to be done now is for the Iraqi government to establish Martial Law in Ramadi, to step up the fight against the enemy.

Al Qaeda is losing. Bin Ladin has shifted many of his troops back to Afghanistan, to fight alongside the deposed Taliban forces to try to gain some kind of base. The absence of attacks in the US and Europe by Al Qaeda is proof that the enemy is using all their resources in Afghanistan and Iraq. The enemy has been forced to change its tactics, because they are running out of resources. From the view of military history, the tactics now being used in Iraq,
by Al Qaeda, are indicative of desperation on the part of the enemy.

Iraq is a winnable conflict. To win, we only need to make sure that Iraqi security forces are able to protect the people of Iraq and their government. We don't have to stay until there is no longer an insurgency. Once Iraq has a strong and stable army, we will be able to withdraw our combat forces. Granted, there will still be a long term need for logistical and intellegence support, but, hopefully, soon, we can pull our combat troops and bring them home.

This war should not be about politics. It has been made a political issue by people wanting only to "prove" that they are not like the President, to try to grab votes for their congressional faction. They are playing a game of popularity. What they should be doing is reminding people of the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998, enacted by President Clinton, and proudly proclaiming, "This war was our idea."


Madlibber said...

Good assessment, unbiased, at least until the last paragraph. Yer makin' sense, stop it! Have you been watching too much Fox News again?

Bob King said...

Fine post, good points, made me think. I have only one tiny reservation about your call to "stay the course" and that is the current command structure and it's ability to find "a course" - or their own backsides - with a milspec GPS unit and a halogen flashlight.

Your writing presupposes competent leadearship and effective command authority; I would suggest that the "mistakes" you cite militate against that presumption.

Nonetheless, I feel that we have some obligation to consider both our moral obligation to fix what we broke, and to deeply consider what would happen if we did pull out.

We are not in the happy situation of choosing between an array of options ranked from good to bad, we have make the best of a bad lot.

And never mind who's fault it was - IRT your last paragraph. :P Clinton was, in my mind, the best Republican president of the last century, but even he made a few mistakes along the way.

Bob King said...

Ooop. Forgot to flag last paragraph as intentionally ironic.

RevJim said...

I caught the irony, Bob. Thanks for stopping by. I could have left the last paragraph of this article out, probably should have, because it detracted from my point. BTW hope you don't mind that I added a link to "GraphicTruth" to my sidebar.