The road starts here
Josh Manchester adds a fourth possiblity to strategies being considered by the Pentagon for victory in Iraq. "Go big," "Go long," or "Go home." The US military wants to "Go Long". Manchester adds "Go Native" which is "Go Long" plus the ability to tell the Iraqi government to "Go To Hell" if it hesitates to clean up its act. Here's how the Washington Post describes the strategies being considered "independently" of the Iraq Study Group -- and perhaps in competition with it.
The Pentagon's closely guarded review of how to improve the situation in Iraq has outlined three basic options: Send in more troops, shrink the force but stay longer, or pull out, according to senior defense officials. Insiders have dubbed the options "Go Big," "Go Long" and "Go Home." The group conducting the review is likely to recommend a combination of a small, short-term increase in U.S. troops and a long-term commitment to stepped-up training and advising of Iraqi forces, the officials said.
The military's study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, comes at a time when escalating violence is causing Iraq policy to be reconsidered by both the White House and the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Pace's effort will feed into the White House review, but military officials have made it clear they are operating independently.
Although the Pentagon prefers to "Go Long", which is suggestively on a collision course with actions said to be under consideration by the Iraq Study Group to "Go Cap in Hand to Iran", Chester notes that "Going Long" is not enough. It is also necessary to be able to tell fractious Iraqi politicians where to Get Off. Manchester's program to "Go Native" contains these explosive additional elements.
- Create a crash program to develop a massive Arabic linguistic capability within the US military.
- Give Maliki 60 days to remove the Shi'ite militias from positions of influence in the government. If he asks for help of some kind in doing so, provide it. Give him one last chance to prove that stopping the sectarian killing is more important than satisfying those who hunger for it.
- If he can't do it, then declare Iraq's security forces to be in receivership. What does this mean? It means that the security forces of Iraq no longer answer to the Iraqi government, they answer to the US military. The government will still exist. It will still be a democracy. But it will temporarily lose control of its military. After doing this, purge the Iraqi forces of those loyal to Shi'ite militias.
- "Create combined US-Iraqi forces. Here's where the go native part really kicks in. Forget about standing our forces down as the Iraqi forces stand up. It seems to actually be working in Anbar province, but the American public and political class don't believe it. Instead, create a situation such that the American forces and the Iraqi forces are one and the same. American forces in small numbers live, eat, sleep, fight and die with their Iraqi counterparts. It will keep the Iraqis honest about not killing each other in wanton bloodshed. And it will earn incredible benefits for the Americans in terms of intelligence gained and cultural lessons learned. This doesn't just apply to the military. It applies to the police, the border patrol, heck, even the Iraqi boy scouts if there's a local chapter."
Clive of India would understand, and so too would al-Qaeda, which integrates their forces with the locals and for whom "going native" is second nature. But would anyone in Washington have a clue? The real problem with "Going Long" or "Going Native" is that certain politicians in Washington will start "Going Nuts" at the prospect. But then some of the major roadblocks to winning the War in Iraq are political, and if proof were needed the existence -- and possible rivalry between the Iraq Study Group and the Pentagon strategy review is Exhibit A. The war in Washington may be less bloody, less publicized and less distant than that in Iraq, but it is no less important. Historians of the future may one day write that the outcomes in Baghdad and Washington mirrored each other. There's more than one place to Go Native and more than one struggle in which to Go Long.