Thursday, October 18, 2007

Come big or stay at home?

One of my favorite expressions that seems to sum up a Washington Post Story from 12 former Army captains

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

As a side note, this apparently didn't make the op-ed print section, and is only available online. You wouldn't be alone in asking why they ran an op-ed piece on a movie producer but didn't run this one. But you'd still be shy an answer.

So this is a nice bi-partisan slap really (which is always something I prefer), the open hand is delivered to "stay the course" advocates whose one variation is a troop surge (which the captains specifically refer to as a method of getting insurgents to relocate as opposed to just plain getting them, and pissing off local populations in the process), and the back-hand is delivered to the steady withdrawal folks. Thus the come big or stay at home comment--start a conscripted military or send them back home as quickly as possible.

I honestly don't know what to think either way, but I do know that if you're one who claims to listen to commanders on the ground, here's 12 of them talking.

I do know one thing. I remember on 9/11 Tom Nickel (one of our best and brightest doctoral graduates) came into our office and was talking about our history with Osama Bin-Laden, that we trained him and armed him as a fighter in the Afghanistan war against the former Soviet Union. This was all news to me at the time. The reason I bring this up is that this is one of our current strategies in Iraq. Frustrated by the gloves we put on in not wanting to use overwhelming brutal force (acting as insurgents to fight insurgents) we're choosing to wage war by proxy, arming Sunni militias to oust Al-Qaeda operatives. We train them, we arm them and then (at some point) we have to leave. A former ruling minority surrounded by their former oppressed majority. Looking in my crystal ball, I gotta say this can't be a good thing for us.

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