Friday, September 14, 2007

My last post on Iraq--for now.

I seem to have become obsessed with what is happening in Iraq right now--while nearly every other blogger I read regularly is avoiding the subject. I genuinely do want to address other things that are important to me as a Libertarian, and as a citizen of this planet we call Earth. Everybody who reads my blog knows where I stand on the issue, while those who haven't read it yet will quickly and easily find out. Those who would agree with me already agree, while those who disagree with me will never see my point.
I have said just about all that I feel needs to be said on the subject.
One last thing--General Petreaus is not a political figure, no matter what certain Congress persons and Senators may think. He is just a guy who does his job, and does it well. When he delivered his report to Congress, he did not sugarcoat anything, he did not try to justify the American presence in Iraq, he only described what resources he had, what he has accomplished with those resources, what he needs, and what he can accomplish in the future. He is not running for office, he is not trying to get anybody elected or re-elected. He made it clear that he does not like to lose the lives of those with whom he has been entrusted. His job is to pick up pieces and make something out of them
The inserts, or blockquotes, in this post are taken from an article in The Daily Star--an English language e-newsletter from Lebanon--written by syndicated columnist David Ignatius, and titled "Petraeus' Iraq legacy is the real issue." It is a good read, and should be perused with an open mind.
When Petraeus was training the Iraqi Army, he liked to talk about "pop-ups" - the militia units that appear unexpectedly with charismatic commanders and more fighting zeal than the regular military. Unlike more rigid commanders, he was willing to go with the flow - to conform his strategy to these pop-up realities on the ground, rather than try to make things fit his own big picture. That's one of his strengths. He's basically winging it in Iraq - exploring what works and then going with it.

This is a good assessment of the man's character. He is there to get a job done, and is flexible enough to do that job under ever-changing circumstances. As the next paragraph of the article explains, he is not one who has decided to "stay the course" that was left to him:
This bottom-up style of Petraeus and his group represents a decisive break with the cocksure, top-down ethos of Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon - and with a military leadership that bought into Rumsfeld's idea that technology had transformed the nature of warfare itself. Nonsense, said the colonels who advised Petraeus, many of whom, like him, are on their third tours in Iraq. They have learned the hard way to be skeptical of big ideas.

To those who think General Patreaus' methods are the same that have already been tried in Iraq, and have failed, think again--the General and his staff seem to have rejected any idea to continue the strategies that have already been tried. I need say no more. Mr. Ignatius sums it up very well in the last three paragraphs of his article:

Petraeus and his team understand, too, that this war is about people - and helping them one by one to break the cycle of intimidation. When I asked Colonel H.R. McMaster, a key Petraeus adviser, to name a turning point in Anbar, he cited the day last February when Al-Qaeda deposited at a hospital in Ramadi an ice chest containing the severed heads of the children of several sheikhs who had been cooperating with the United States. Rather than submitting to this barbarous act, the enraged sheikhs deepened their alliance with the US military.

We need to be honest about what's happening now in Iraq: Local solutions are better than no solutions; tribal power is better than terrorist intimidation; pop-ups can be better than the pre-planned models. But Petraeus' ad-hoc, ground-up security framework is not the same thing as stabilizing the country. In the time remaining, he has to pull things together as best he can - connect local successes to provincial and national institutions; extend the Sunni rebellion against extremists into the Shiite regions; break the control that Shiite militias now exert over the Interior Ministry and the police.

We do know how this is going to end: with US troops returning home. The question is what they will leave behind. It's likely to be a ragged, patchwork quilt, and there isn't much time left to stitch it together.


Manky said...

This is just excellent! It also should shame and the cratz on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees. One of the comments I heard made on C-Span during a break in the testimony from Petraeus and Crocker was that many of the Senators show how ignorant they are about the subject of Iraq as soon as they open their mouths. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I'm no Iraq expert but I've done enough reading to know what Petraeus is supposed to be doing in Iraq and the fact that he's doing it. Sometimes I listen to the cratz grandstanding and wonder how we could both have access to the same media information and they get it so wrong. I've come to the conclusion it must be a genetic hearing defect -- theirs, not mine.

Jim's Pop said...

Ignorance is rife in this entire populace. In a large part the EVIL ACLU and it's coterie of liberal judges is responsible for a society that has been taught nothing that could be called a serious education. But that is one thing. Now: what do you call it when someone or some group discloses methods of gaining intelligence on the enemy, or demands that we give up the fight, etc.? It is defined by the Constitution of the USA as giving aid and comfort to the enemy and it is called TREASON. General Giap of the NVA publicly stated that North Vietnam was ready to quit until they realized that the USA was succumbing to the protesters and Congressional wimps. We pulled out of SE Asia and a couple of million souls were murdered in the killing spree that followed. Did any of the people who brought that about lose any sleep over it? Did anyone learn from it? Seems not. Now here we go again...........or not. Another thought; What has happened to HONOR? When we have caused people to join us in the fight, and the have committed themselves, there is the matter of trust. We owe them protection in return for that trust. To break the trust is dishonorable. Honor used to mean something. Honor is another thing the treasonous members seem ignorant of.