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Brent Kesler

First, I'd like to thank you for opening your arguments to public comment. I hope that my contribution can meet your standards.

I'm trying to find the strategy behind this proposal. Basically, it appears you want to cut our losses so we can refocus on our strategic objectives; in your words, to "preserve the most important, minimal necessary interests of the United States." However, I'm not sure what you believe the United States' strategic interests to be, or why this proposal better serves those interests.

"Here's my modest proposal. Acknowledge that we have lost, withdraw American forces, and let the chips fall where they may.

First, have we lost? I agree we haven't won, but is that the same as losing? The situation I see in Iraq is an insurgency (or whatever you want to call it) trying to derail the negotiations for a new constitution and failing. The Sunni members of the consitutional committee resigned July 20 after some of their number were assassinated, but rejoined on July 25. The negotiations, though fierce, continue to progress.

"We are fighting precisely the war that Saddam Hussein wanted to fight against us. . . . The US Army is indeed fighting something very much like the dreaded urban warfare scenario that people talked about in 2002-3."

If I remember correctly, that dreaded scenario was a pitched battle with Republican Guard troops in Baghdad. What we are seeing today does not match that. All sides seem to be shying away from urban combat. The US is reluctant to invade cities, knowing that the advantage always goes to the defender and that the invading force will suffer high casualties for low gains. But every now and then the insurgency gets too intense and coaltion troops enter a city, only to watch the guerrillas melt into the desert. Better to give ground and save valuable resources than to fight a bloody battle for one city. So we have car bombs on the streets and roadside ambushes, costing coalition forces greatly, but failing to live up to the urban warfare scenario.

"The so-called 'insurgents' do have a political program. And they can win. . . . And the fact that they are not coherent in our view is a very bad reason to assume that they cannot win."

I agree. The lack of a coherent political program is actually one of the keys to their continued success. A decentralized insurgency cannot surrender, forcing the occupying power to withdraw or fight to the bloody end. While we must be careful not to dismiss the threat they pose simply because their vision for Iraq appears incoherent, this alone does not convince me that they are winning. Again, the constitutional negotiations remain on track, even as the insurgents intensify their attacks. There are some warning signs that the insurgents are getting better, such as the successful ambush of four snipers. While this is cause for alarm, I'm not quite ready to call the insurgency a TKO.

"What I mean is quite minimal: protect America's vital interests in the region, at a cost we can afford to bear."

Any political proposal must balance benefits against harms. I don't see that here. The proposal simply suggests a policy of containing Iraqi power in order to minimize our losses. What interests does it protect? It's easy to get confused about what our interests in the region are; the Bush administration has done a poor job of explaining why continued involvement of Iraq is in America's interests. But anyone making a proposal has to figure out what those interests are -- or should be -- when explaining why a plan will work. Without that, this looks like a plan only for throwing up our hands in frustration. I'm prepared to accept that may be the best strategy, but I want to know why. What do we salvage by leaving the fight?

David Peranteau

I second Brent in thanking you for your willingness to post comments. Mine are interspersed below.

I would like to say that I find it tremendously ironic that I am defending the Bush administration's current Iraq policy, but there really isn't much choice. The alternatives are far, far worse.
--- You wrote:
"A Modest Proposal for Iraq"

The war in Iraq is nearly over, and the United States has nearly lost.

Okay. On what exactly is this assertion based on? It's pretty out there, and you offer no support for it whatsoever. The US has lost about 1810 soldiers in Iraq thus far. That's a lot, and I am not making the case that the situation is hunky-dory, but we are not even close to the realm of having lost this conflict. This is not Vietnam or Algeria. There is no draft, there are no major commanders calling for major reinforcements or saying that are present force levels are unequal to the task. On what scale have we lost exactly? We set up some elections, which weren't great but they were a start, and we are starting to build infrastructure. In many areas of the country, there is no sign of insurgency. When did we lose?

It's time for us to recognize a few core realities about the conflict
in Iraq, and reason from those to an action plan for salvaging what we
can out of this debacle. What I'm about to suggest is not a good
outcome for the people of Iraq. It is, I think, a reasonable outcome
for the United States, at least compared to the alternatives. It is
actionable. It will preserve the most important, minimal necessary
interests of the United States. It's possible to make a case that in
the long run it might work to the benefit of the Iraqis as well. But
I'm not so cynical as to defend it on that basis.

In what way does this preserve the interests of the US, exactly? Fine, we get out. No more soldiers die. Great. And for that we:
A. Sacrifice the entirety of the Iraqi populace over the altar of "oops..." . International credibility down the toilet. Ability to combat jihadists in the region, also down the toliet.
B. Grant the insurgents a thorough victory. Now, I really hate the saying, "If you do x then the terrorists will have won," but if we do this, the terrorists will have won. As a result:
1. The credibility/ word of the US is worth nothing. Despite swearing time and time again that we would not leave until we felt that Iraq was stable, we do just that.
2. The jihadists will have proven that terrorism works and the US is weak and impatient. Bloody our nose and we'll turn tail. If you want something, go with terrorism- look, it forced the mighty US to abandon its objectives and promises! This will signal to our enemies everywhere that all they need to do is outlast us, and they will win.
3. Iraq becomes the rallying cry for the jihadists. Nothing facilitates recruitment like big-time success. All the young fundamentalists who were on the fence before, now take up the jihadist banner. Iraq becomes more dangerous than it ever was to the US under Saddam, as a hotbed, recruiting and training ground for people who want to kill us. Splendid.

First a mea culpa. I was a mild to moderate supporter of the war at
first, for a set of reasons that now look to be truly stupid. Believe
it or not, my thinking in 2002 went like this: The Bush
Administration is a political animal of the first order. More than
anything else, they want to be re-elected in 2004. To start a war in
Iraq is a huge and incredibly risky undertaking, that is not on the
face of it necessary. The list of things that could go wrong is so
extensive and so frightening, that they must have an incredibly
compelling reason to take such a huge risk. They must know something
that we don't. Because otherwise the cost-benefit calculation is
incredibly clear: why take such a risk if you don't have to? The
downside is so much worse (and more likely) than the upside.

Yea. Now you know better than to trust the Bush administration.

I don't think I've ever been so wrong in my life. And it's a classic
mistake of strategy -- to overestimate the strategic rationality of
someone you don't know very well -- mistaking his or her ideologically
inspired, or narrow minded, or standard operating procedure driven
behavior, or just plain stupidity -- for a carefully reasoned and
logical plan that would make sense if you just had all the data. Live
and learn.

Yea. Live and learn. Oops. Sorry about that Iraq, but it seems as though it is marginally more in our interest (it really isn't) if we just abandon you to chaos, starvation and the warlords. Sorry about that. Hope you find the living hell that is your country for the next two decades agreeable. The US needs to worry about other stuff now. Good luck!

Okay then. Here are two realities we should acknowledge:

1. We are fighting precisely the war that Saddam Hussein wanted to
fight against us. The so-called 'insurgents' did not develop their
very sophisticated strategies on the fly. Saddam knew he could not
defeat the US Army at the borders of Iraq. So, he called what any
decent quarterback would call on 3rd down and 7 yards to go when you
have a very weak defensive line: a draw play. The US Army is indeed
fighting something very much like the dreaded urban warfare scenario
that people talked about in 2002-3.

No, they really aren't. The scenarios being tossed around in 2002-03 involved hundreds of casualties per day. They involved the US fighting for every square inch of every major city tooth and nail. What the US is fighting now is small, isolated pockets of resistance and the occasional terrorist attack. We're talking a few small arms combat conflicts with a few neighborhoods each day, the vast majority of which the US wins without any losses whatsoever, and then there are car bombs now and then. This is nothing like the "dreaded urban warfare scenario" we envisioned as a worst case scenario. It's not in the same ballpark- it's not even the same sport.

And, not surprisingly, we are
losing. I would go one step further. The only thing Saddam has
really done wrong was to get caught in his foxhole. If he had not
been captured, we'd be looking at a plausible scenario where Saddam
Hussein himself was back in power a few years from now. I suppose
that was pretty much what he had planned.

And there is no way Saddam could have ever come back to power a few years from now. The entirety of his administration was destroyed or captured, his military was torn apart and his Baathist supporters make up no more than a small fraction of the population. It may be the struggle he envisioned to some extent, but that doesn't mean that he's winning it. The insurgents have accomplished no major tasks. They have not carried out any sophisticated operations, taken any cities, or beaten back the US on any front. Just because we haven't beaten them yet (and will likely never get them all) does not mean that they've won. Look at the casualty figures. Look at the objectives the US has accomplished. Take a look at most major Iraqi cities today. They are moving on. Most of the cities, most of the time are peaceful- and US forces are firmly in control. That is why the most common way that US sodiers get killed is car bombs and land mines. You make it sound like the streets are alive with raging insurgent mobs that the US is struggling to contain. That is not at all the case.

2. The so-called 'insurgents' do have a political program. And they
can win. Why do I say that? Because I am tired of reading statements
from the Pentagon and elsewhere that categorically denies both of
these points. On what basis can we say that? The political
objectives of the anti-American forces in Iraq may not be fully
coherent and consensual, but then again neither are the objectives of
the pro-American forces. Some of the insurgents want a return to
Baathist rule. Some probably want Iraq to be the center of the Osama
Bin Laden caliphate. Some want a gang-ruled warlord state where they
can extract money. Those are political programs. We may not agree
with them, or see them as sustainable. But they are as real as any
political program. And the fact that they are not coherent in our
view is a very bad reason to assume that they cannot win.

This is the only paragraph in this article that I completely agree with. But the fact that they have a semi-coherent agenda, and that they can win does not mean that they have. That is quite a leap.

So what should we do about all this?

What should we do about what? Your last point was that they "can" win. That is true. In fact, the best and really only way for them to win is for us to do exactly what you propose- immaturely abandon the consequences of our ill-conceived war, and bail at the worst possible time.

Here's my modest proposal. Acknowledge that we have lost, withdraw
American forces, and let the chips fall where they may.

Again, Modest? On what scale is this a modest proposal?

It may take a
decade for the country to sort out a set of civil wars. It will be a
humanitarian nightmare for the people of Iraq.

Yes, yes it will. Yet somehow you find this acceptable. And for what? So that we can spare the lives of a few hundred American soldiers?

And it is as likely as
not that whatever political authority comes to rule Iraq, or parts of
Iraq, will be as troubling to American foreign policy objectives in
the region as Saddam was.

Likely? I guarantee they will be 10x worse. They will be the regime that beat the Americans, and terrorists will flock to their banners making Baghdad the anti-US capital of the world.

Here's why this is not a crazy idea. Go back to the Winter of 2003.
What were the smart anti-war Americans saying at that time about US
policy? They said, 'Iraq is a threat, but containment is working. So
why invade? Let's create a policy called 'containment-plus'. Let's
tighten the enforcement of the embargo, incent the surrounding
countries to really hold to sanctions policies, beef up UN
inspections, increase our support for opposition groups within the
country, and so on...'

Yea, we were saying that.

It's time to consider applying that exact policy to a post-Saddam
Iraq. Pull our forces out. Station UN-authorized troops on Iraq's
borders to monitor people and goods moving in and out. Compensate
Iraq's neighbors with real cash for lost revenue and be ruthless about
enforcing a strategic embargo. Use air power to enforce an
inspections regime and to destroy any protean terrorist training
facilities. Reign in whatever new government comes to power in Iraq.
Turn Saddam over to a UN war crimes tribunal. And so on.

We can't do that now. It's too late. We removed Iraq's government- we cannot just abandon it to civil war now and hope it will sort itself out. If it does sort itself out in any way, after thousands and thousands of innocents have died, the resulting regime would be absolutely venomous towards the US, and rightly so. Also, the insurgents will have beaten us, and their cause will be stronger than ever. How do we contain that, exactly?

UN-authorized troops? Cover the borders? Iraq is a large country. Covering its borders would take thousands of troops. You think the UN is going to do that just because the US asks nicely? Not bloody likely.
How exactly are we to be ruthless about enforcing a strategic embargo? Do we kill anybody we find trying to break it? You make this sound really easy. It isn't, and it would require nearly as many troops on the ground as we have in Iraq right now.
"Use air power to enforce an inspections regime and to destroy any protean terrorist training
facilities." How do you use air power to enforce an inspections regime? We didn't find out nearly anything about Iraq's WMD during the air phase of the Gulf War. It was only when we had troops on the ground that we were able to figure out what they had. And how do we locate WMD sites and terrorist training grounds from the air? Will they have spray-painted labels on them, identifying them as such? Both of those are extremely easy to hide, and without a force on the ground, we have no hope of locating them. That's not an opinion- that's a fact.
Finally, "Reign in whatever new government comes to power in Iraq." ??? By what, invading again? Reconquering all the cities we fought to take and then abandoned? That is sheer lunacy.

Would it 'work'? That depends on what you mean by 'work'. What I
mean is quite minimal: protect America's vital interests in the
region, at a cost we can afford to bear.

It will not protect our vital interests. Not only will it kill tens of thousands, it will signal our weakness to now and future adversaries, bolster the ranks of the jihadists, ruin our already tarnished international image, and peramanently screw Iraq, a nation that is vital to our strategic oil interests.
(BTW, so you think that the oil will keep flowing from Iraq when the nation is embroiled in anarchy and civil war?) This idea is crazy. It will not protect any of our interests, it gains us absolutely nothing, and the cost of this plan is incalculably beyond any sane notion of what "we can afford to bear."

If you hate this idea, remember that Jonathan Swift used his modest
proposal to break up what had become a calcified discussion about
seemingly intractable dilemmas.

Great. Provoke discussion- I support that. But this plan doesn't belong on or anywhere near the table yet.

David Peranteau


Proposed Solutions:

The ABCs to success.

(A) No [significant] guerrilla warfare has ever been won in history on another person’s territory. Why do we ( USA) think we can change that stat.?

(B) Media plays a huge role in garnering support. For example: Why are the terrorists called insurgents? Couldn’t American colonialists be identified ‘as such’ [ back then] if this were a time warp issue and in the time of the British Empire media?

(C) Everyone one knows that oil runs the western civilization and that a ‘significant’ portion of this necessity comes from this region. Therefore, we all know that the only reason we are there is for this necessity. If we are not going to take the oil [imperialism] and just facilitate a form of democratic functionary[ies] to oversee our insurance of getting this oil, then we have another thing coming - the terrorists will win any type of guerilla warfare - as they reside on their own home turf, and as history proves over and over.

(D) The American public plays the hypocritical role of denying the destruction of foreign environment[s], while not allowing oil drilling in America on a significant level ( Which could be done right now). This is the major draw back of the anti-war protestors – containment is short-lived solution with no grounds of solutions – as in the near future the real need for oil will cause ultimately WWIII. America needs self sufficiency.

(E) You cannot kill or destroy an enemy that doesn’t have a core or center to attack. Islam [ The terrorist’s latchment], has no pope, or hierarchy, and therewithal, one cannot go and bargain with the center ( or leader) or take it out.

(F) Truman implied, but not specifically state, that dropping Little Boy on Hiroshima (and his brother three days later on another Japanese city) was in retaliation for Pearl Harbor, ie, 2000 appx. innocent deaths [ as war was not officially declared]. Thus since, Islamic radicals, claimed also by Usama bin Laden words, are connected to Islamic states, and September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, then they have to be considered as a whole unit and be retaliated against [or they will never stop]. No one likes the idea of killing many innocent people, but Truman decision saved appx. one million plus American and ally lives in WWII. Fighting guerrilla wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is insufficient - it gets the US nowhere but broke and frustrated.

(G) One will note in history that Alexander the Great decided to ‘take-care’ the Persian Empire terrorists and Arab armies once and for all, because they would not stop terrorizing the western civilization [ see Greek History] . Alexander’s decisions to obliterate and dismantle the Persian Empire, the then Middle East region, was the only way of stopping the radicals of that era. This is no different of mentality, condition, or reason - today - there is an enmity that spans not only religion but racial preference of physicality, as well, between the Islamic Arabs radicals and the west.

(F) Solutions:

1. Get out of the Middle East and contain terrorist training camps for the short run. Beginning of drilling everywhere on our own soil commences immediately. Once America becomes self sufficient, then declare a proclamation to radical Islam. Islamic proclamation: ‘You screw with us and will kill so many of your people they will force you to stop your terrorist ways’ - ie. The solutions of the out of control Japan WWII Military hierarchy, Old ancient Persian regimes, and countless other out of control entities in history whom did not want to stop terrorizing the west ( or whomever).

2. Begin a massive alternative energy bill with incentives to companies to investigate and invent alternative energy with the notion of dominating its economics by technological discovery over the world.


A1. The extreme left doesn’t want drilling on American soil, however, they are all willing to belittle a President ( not support his administration) who knows where the oil is and is forming future sureties of its existence for America. The proof is the Pentagon for the last 30 years has been forming strategic sureties in the Middle East to keep the American lifestyle alive. If all Americans do not get behind self sufficiency, then they need to come to terms with overt imperialism – taking the oil fields. The Middle East will not do oil business for long without an impressive military force to back it up – as was/is the Pentagon’s plan for the last 30 years. Anything else is a pipe dream. The radicals of Islam had made it very clear that taking the oil back is there number one concern.

B1. The number one concern of the radical Islamic is to take the oil back from western NEW imperialists. This includes the Saudi Royal Family in conjunction with the west. In order to make this effort a success, the radicals first will take down America economically to weaken its military funding. A weakened military assures greater success on battling the collusions of Arab/western business magnets in the Middle East. Usama in his letter to America has made it clear that the west pays a paltry price for Middle eastern oil ( Arab Controlled) for many decades. This is his number one plan. This makes the drawback a tough decision to take America off the reliance of Middle Eastern oil.

C1. Drawback connection to the media and entertainment’s silence: The most recognized notion of the American spirit is the majority do not know anything about what is really going on and that bashing their neighbor, with derogatory terms instead of forming a tight-knitted community of resolve, is all they understand how to accomplish.

D1. Pussy-footing doesn’t work. First, containment is just a mask for new imperialism – so why not come out and just take the oil fields both economically and physically. Second, the majority of Americans do not stand up and call for self sufficiency, ie. drilling on American soil. Thirdly, Mickey-Mouseing around will only created deeper division like that of example CI. Deeper division causes civilizations to fall. A house divided doesn’t stand ( Any Chance).

E1.Drawbacks Americans not thinking correctly - all the variables ( A POli SCi’s benchmark notion). If American presence left the Middle East, then China, EU, or another opportunist government and military will move in. Has any dissenters considered this? Has anyone noticed how prominent Democrats have voted and supported this war? Did anyone notice how President Bush within the first months in Office, way before 911, asked for the Americans to support America drilling for its own oil on its own land – but was shot down by mostly the Democrats and the media? Hypocrisy is just as dangerous as stupidity.

Synopsis: The ABCs
A. Leave Iraq and the Middle East. After this has been accomplished any terrorist attacks in America by the Islamic radicals can be viewed as ‘screwing with us when we weren’t screwing with them” – so big time retaliation of innocent lives is plausible ( ie. Truman solution see: F).
B. Become self Sufficient! ie. drill for all usages included: American oil on American land. Use other avenues besides the Middle East for oil or Islamic Controlled World Zones.
C. Focus strictly on alternative solutions.

Significant notes:

Probability of people being smart and following this path? About .001% In other words a Null Hypothesis.

Lawrence Harris

The previous responses by Kesler and Peranteau have done an excellent job of deconstructing the “Modest Proposal”. It may be judicious at this time to remind ourselves of why we are in Iraq, especially in light of the actions taken by the mother of one of the Iraq war’s recent casualties in camping out at Bush’s Crawford ranch. Her actions and pathos of the situation have thrown the justifications of the war in sharp relief. In view of the dark finality of death one wonders at the reasons and purpose of life. A larger view can sometimes provide such a consolation.

In looking at the larger context in which the attack on Iraq was precipitated, the case can be made that, notwithstanding Saddam Hussein having WMD, the larger geopolitical issue at stake is about the threat that Iraq posed regionally, and because of globalization, globally.

In terms of the region, Iraq’s regime had already demonstrated that it was an unrepentant aggressor; it had invaded two of its neighboring countries, attacks which were unprovoked; it had used chemical weapons against its own people; it used chemical weapons against the Iranian people; it supported and promoted terrorism (through funds to Palestinians and training to other terrorist groups); and the regime was in violation of agreements that it signed at the end of the Gulf war, as well as numerous UN resolutions.

In terms of the global threat, remember, had Hussein been able to retain control of Kuwait in the first Gulf War he would have been in possession of about 1/3 of the world’s oil reserves, not to mention his increased proximity and proclivity to attack Saudi Arabia, thus putting him in possession of about 50% of the world’s oil reserves. Yes, the immediate danger had been addressed by the First Gulf War but the Iraqi regime continued to represent a choice in the Arab world between violence and atavism on the one hand, or pluralism and progress on the other. The former choice needed to be addressed, thus the Bush doctrine and the National Security Strategy of 2002. These are the reasons and conditions that justified the steps the US took in regard to its obligations and leadership in the international system.

The primary purpose of the 2nd Gulf War was the elimination, not only of weapons of mass destruction, but also of the core of Arab rejectionism. At this time, in the wake of the end of the Cold War and 9/11, the new US geopolitical strategy is to break the logjam that has frustrated Middle East peace for fifty-odd years, and then reorder the map of the region to serve the strategic interests of the United States. These interests are in accord with liberal democracy, free markets, globalization, and modernity. So the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was related to the overall political and strategic threat that Iraq's regime posed to the Middle East and the creation of a new strategic vision for the region.

Furthermore the world community’s collective inaction, (e.g., flawed inspection regime and food-for-oil program) would have eventually allowed Saddam to acquire nuclear weapons. This isn’t a debatable point; the only question is how long it would have taken. Moreover the dynamics in the Middle East would clearly have been changed through Iraq’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. It is undeniable that Saddam had demonstrated a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction when he believed it suited his purpose. A nuclear weapon would be just another tool in his WMD arsenal. It has been documented by UN inspection that even with sanctions he was endeavoring to acquire WMD. A nuclear Iraq would be Saddam’s passport to further expansion in the region, an inclination he repeatedly demonstrated, and would have given him a stranglehold on the largest proportion of oil reserves in the world; a dangerous precedent with undeniable adverse geopolitical ramifications. In addition Saddam’s past behavior had demonstrated his desire to expand Iraq’s borders. Again, this point is beyond dispute. If past behavior is emblematic of future conduct, then we must assume that Iraq will invade his neighbors again. If it’s in the US’s interests to prevent such a war from happening, then the US must decide if it’s better to attack him now, in a weaker state, or wait for Iraq to rebuild its military and gain nuclear defenses. Therefore, it is the cumulative weight of egregious behavior by Saddam and his regime, which was condemned by the world community, which justified and condoned intervention.

Perhaps this overarching view, and the net benefit to be gained by the inhabitants of the Middle East region and the international community, can provide a measure of consolation to the families of those who have paid the ultimate price in addressing the eternal dilemma posed by the exercise of power in an international system governed by anarchy.


Jason Engelstein

I want to start by saying that I strongly agree with Harris, Kesler and Peranteau. I am shocked at your own proposal Professor Webber. I suspect that you hold these views because you view China as the much bigger threat in the long run and not terrorism. I agree, but I think our best way to confront China in the future will be with more democratic regime (allies, or at least non-threatening countries), especially close to Chinese.

I have always believed that the real reason we went to Iraq is to reshape a part of the world that needs reshaping in order to be more peaceful and not threaten our interests. Our task was then, from the start, expensive and long-term. We are trying to recreate in the Middle East what we created in Europe and Eastern Asia. And our European and Asians creations have been such great examples that Eastern Europe and South Asia are trying to follow in these footsteps. Iraq is so strategic because it allows us to have access to many of the regions: Syria, Iran, and in the longer term Saudi Arabia (this is more of an ideological threat and a potential threat should regime change occur to the more radical). We can't use Israel as our example for religious and historical reasons so Iraq is our base.

Our mission is not going to be easy but I think we have actually done pretty well up to this point. By historical standards this war has been cheap as measured in cost as a percentage of GDP, lives lost (I am not trying to say that every life isn't precious, we just haven't nearly had as many casualties as we had in our last several major invasions of this sort [Kuwait is the exception]), and the length of this war has not been long by historical standards. Thus I think it is premature to call for a pull-out. Things are going decently and some troops will be coming home in a year's time. I think that this will take the pressure off of the military.

I most closely relate the current state of the war to the situation the US faced in the Phillipennes after we took control of the area from the Spanish. Granted, in that case the US was fighting one guerrilla force that was more centralized and I believe the fighting was located more in the jungle than in the cities, but the key facts are important. In the Phillipennes case, the insurgency lasted over ten years, yet the US still made amazing gains. Iraq is a Phillipennes with several different guerilla forces. They all have objectives and they can be defeated in the long-run, but the key is that guerillas can only typically be defeated in the long-run. Our own revolution probably would not have succeed in the long run had the French not backed us (and they had a navy which they used and a large army that they could have deployed).

If anything I think we need to look at the Isrealis and take notes from their tactics with terrorist. We have to get better intelligence and that will help us kill more insurgents and foil more of their attacks. But as we have seen in Britain, these kinds of attacks are very easy to carry out even in the most advanced and secure of countries, so a total elimination of the terror is unlikely and should not be viewed as a goal. Our goal is the long term change of the Middle East into a more peacefull, tolerant, democratic and free market geopolitical area. You say the terrorist aren't the biggest threat to the United States, China is. If that logic is true then the biggest threat to Iraq are not the insurgents but Iran and its desire for a Islamic state in Iraq. This is also the biggest threat to our intrests in the area.

To that end, I think that in the next 5-7 years the US will be involved in another war in the Middle East, either by choice or necessity. Syria and a more likely Iran are the targets. I think that this future war will help boost the Iraqi economy just as the Korean War helped the Japanese economy and the Vietnam War helped the Korea and Taiwanese economies. I am not arguing that we should go to war for these reasons. I just think that our long term strategic goal of Middle East reform will cause it to happen. Iran's current path seems to add weight to this prediction.

But I have move off topic. The key point is that we can't leave. Because if one believes that the Spanish withdrawl after the Madrid bombing and the Fillipino withdrawl because of a hostage taking made terrorist believe their tactics will work, then a US withdrawl will solidify the belief that terrorism works. We have to keep our long-term geopolitical goals in the region in mind and recognize this is going to be a long and difficult process, but that we have had mild but consistent gains and relatively little costs in this battle.

Geoff Styles

This is a fascinating discussion. Your assessment that we've ended up fighting the war Saddam intended seems very accurate. Without necessarily accepting the starting premise, that we've actually lost, I'm quite prepared to consider that "not winning" is the current likely outcome. While I suspect that this has been tried behind the scenes, I wonder about the efficacy of a public announcement to the Iraqis at this point that unless they can resolve their constitutional disagreements and manage to cut off the insurgency from all internal support of any consequence, then the option of partitioning Iraq goes back on the table. After all, the construct of Iraq is less than 100 years old, dating as it does to the post-WWI dismantling of the Ottoman Empire by the Brits and French.

While a constitutional multi-ethnic Iraq leaves the Sunni less well off than they were under Saddam, a rump Sunnistan neighboring a thriving Kurdistan and Greater Basra would be a total disaster for them. Would the credible threat of this, however unpalatable to Turkey and the other neighbors, incentivize the Sunni "middle" to clean house: expel the foreign fighters, and cough up the former regime elements at the heart of the insurgency?

If the alternative is walking away and letting the chips fall where they may, I have to believe this approach would at least be worth a try, first. What am I missing?


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