The Care of Time
Michael Yon offers this observation on Iraq.
We now have a large number of American and British officers who can pick up a phone from Washington or London and call an Iraqi officer that he knows well—an Iraqi he has fought along side of—and talk. Same with untold numbers of Sheiks and government officials, most of whom do not deserve the caricatural disdain they get most often from pundits who have never set foot in Iraq. British and American forces have a personal relationship with Iraqi leaders of many stripes. The long-term intangible implications of the betrayal of that trust through the precipitous withdrawal of our troops could be enormous, because they would be the certain first casualties of renewed violence, and selling out the Iraqis who are making an honest-go would make the Bay of Pigs sell-out seem inconsequential. The United States and Great Britain would hang their heads in shame for a century.
Why is fighting a counter-insurgency hard? Because it requires creating a human infrastructure, which in turn requires time and most importantly, exposure. There is probably no idea more destructive to conducting a good counterinsurgency than the idea of a military campaign based on a prescheduled "exit strategy" following a battles in which no casualties will be allowed. Any realistic effort which fits those constraints must realistically resemble one of the cruise missile bombardments so popular with Washington in the 1990s, which is why they were preferred to start with.
A truly sanitized, rubber gloved, politically correct war can never have produced the cameraderie in arms which Yon describes as having risen between American officers and former al-Qaeda. In one sense, the kinds of wars the Left will allow a national military to engage in (if there are any) are of the sort where everything is fundamentally as phoney and plastic as a United Nations conference. A nonwar, both bloodless and useless at the same time. An event in which there are no years; nor sweat, nor tears. Diplomacy conducted by military theater. Just a programmed experience and a private plane ticket home.
But the history of war through the ages has never resembled that; and ultimately there's no way to fight a counterinsurgency without becoming involved in the fate of a country. This is the real cost of all wars that "free men" rather than enslave them. Becoming involved is fraught with danger. But victory has its price.