Just walk away Renee, you wont see me follow you back home
Chester has two very thoughtful articles on post-Rumsfeld strategy in Iraq (the other is here at TCS). Chester says "all of a sudden, everyone's got an Iraq plan," and goes through a bunch of them. His exposition is excellent and they are better read in the original, but here's a sample just for the flavor.
Meanwhile, Ralph Peters mentions the "all hands on deck" concept:One proposal under discussion within the administration is to "send everything we've got" - to deploy every possible Army and Marine unit, no matter how worn and weary, for six months to "clean things up."Now there's an option for you! ...
McCain's right too: No American voters are going to be upset if al Sadr goes away. In fact, best to kill The Man With One Red Shoe now, because if we do pull out of Iraq, he'll probably be the next dictator of Shiastan.
As a practical matter a lot of Iraqis who threw in their lot with America must now be thinking of secret ways to mend fences with whoever they believe will be in control after the US leaves. Those who can't are probably now considering whether appeals to some American they have come to befriend will help them leave when the time for the Last Helicopter comes to go. America would be best, but maybe Canada, maybe Britain, maybe Australia, maybe Romania, maybe Bulgaria will take them. No? well anywhere at all, then. Everyone comes to Casablanca.
Including al-Qaeda. This is going to be different because the enemy will pursue right back to mainstreet USA. Perhaps even on the tide of refugees that will be sure to ensue. Funny how history repeats itself. Chester's article says "Bob Owens notes that the new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, was an advisor the the first President Bush when he screwed the Shi'ites, leading to the deaths of nearly a hundred thousand of them." I don't know. People say things. But also as a practical matter, without delivering moral judgments, two things appear clear:
- America will never get over Vietnam. It's doomed to fight wars in a cyclic fashion until some dreadful world crisis forces an extension of its periodicity to decisive victory. 9/11 wasn't big enough for that. Fairly soon but with increasing speed the consequences of this catastrophic collapse will be felt and the pendulum will swing back, maybe in 2008, maybe in 2010 — but not all the way — and a new Rumsfeld will be found only to be trashed by a new Pelosi. Back and forth it will go. The next decade will be littered with the bones of millions of indigenes caught up in the betrayals of American domestic politics. Remember the words “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” The man who said those words was dead within three years of uttering them, together with millions of Indochinese, many drowned in the South China Sea. The cycle will continue until some catastrophe breaks the cycle or breaks America.
- The Government can never fight terrorism alone. It's too bureaucratic. And it will always alternate in control between the Hatfields and the McCoys; whichever party comes to power is owed Constitutional allegiance so we must dig ditches and fill them up again with equal loyalty.
Given the permanence of Vietnam and the paralysis of government it would be wise to outsource as much of the soft warfighting capability as possible to the private sector. One such institution is already in place. The Press, unlike the Democrats and the Republicans, is a permanent institution parts of which have become corrupted and unreliable. The first task will be to continue to find alternative ways of gathering news information and disseminating it in ways which will complement and check the MSM. This can be done whoever is in power in Washington. Second, we should make large investments in developing language capabilities and cultural knowledge among the population and make better use of capabilities that are available. The two tasks are potentially related and it is possible to imagine an Internet enabled network over which Americans can interact with people in foreign countries. The infrastructure is already there. All that's needed is a slick interface and concept. It's not any more stupid than Facebook or YouTube. I was struck by how American MPs were still using interpreters in Iraq after 3 years. We should act to make certain that using interpreters on a large scale will never be necessary in the future. This will also go a long way towards providing a better human intelligence resource base. I can think of other soft warfighting capabilities that can be legally and productively developed in the private sector. It is certainly a more gainful use of time to build them instead of wringing hands while Nancy Pelosi mulls over her "situation to be solved". There's plenty to do for those who are frustrated by the turn of events. Iraq will follow Nancy Pelosi home. It's best to get ready for it.