The scraggly line in the sand
Chester has a brilliant description of the fundamental problem with trying to "contain" Iraq or negotiate a way out of Iraq by appeals to Iran and Syria after so abjectly folding.
Pundits and armcharists have struggled for months to articulate a military strategy vis a vis Iran that fits the following constraints: the nuclear program must be stopped; there can be no invasion; and if possible the regime should be removed.
He then proceeds to quote Arthur Hermman's prescription for an impressive array of air-sea signalling indicating to Teheran that "thus far and no further", but wonders: who are we trying to kid?
The first step would be to make it clear that the United States will tolerate no action by any state that endangers the international flow of commerce in the Straits of Hormuz. Signaling our determination to back up this statement with force would be a deployment in the Gulf of Oman of minesweepers, a carrier strike group’s guided-missile destroyers, an Aegis-class cruiser, and anti-submarine assets, with the rest of the carrier group remaining in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. Navy could also deploy UAV’s (unmanned air vehicles) and submarines to keep watch above and below against any Iranian missile threat to our flotilla. ...
Sounds great, but with a lame duck President who is contemplating a time-based withdrawal from Iraq coupled with negotiations with Iran and Syria; and a liberal Democratic leadership that never met an enemy it didn't like, perhaps Herman might better spend his time in search of the fountain of youth, or perpetual motion, or alchemy.
Chester looks at proposals to bomb Iran, now, before they get the bomb and finds that whatever logic or plausibility underpins it, it ain't gonna happen. Because the fundamental problem with the Global Cop isn't that he isn't armed, isn't trained, isn't strong. It's that he won't shoot. Ask Nancy Pelosi. He ends his post with perhaps the most succinct characterization of where the Line in the Sand is now, where we have ended up with in five years of the War on Terror.
Something that Michael Scheuer said at the Defense Forum in September has stayed with me. "History will show that Americans have trouble with borders." Perhaps the entire campaign in Iraq, much like the Spanish Civil War, has served, among other things, to redraw the coalitional borders of the world, a clarifying event as we press inexorably toward phase two of the Global Islamist Insurgency. What it will consist of is hard to tell, but it seems likely to begin as the first phase did: with a United States that believes it can be left alone within its own borders, just as it believed it was on September 10th, 2001.
And oh, there are those that argue that the Border Fence is dead. That the election of the Democratic Party in November provided the Mandate to kill it.