Jeff Emanuel

Dear President Bush,

Now that you have had nearly a month to recover from the midterm election, I would like to humbly suggest that you once again focus your attention on the situation in Iraq, and its resolution.

There are two overarching concerns which I believe must be addressed immediately.

The first is the lack of a clearly-defined objective. What it is that we hope to accomplish in Iraq, and in the greater Middle East, must be determined. Then, both you and the Republican Party – which you lead, and which is still in control of Congress until the end of this year – must commit fully to that objective. Without a clearly defined goal, and without progress markers along the way, the undertaking in Iraq is less action with a purpose than a lethally directionless enterprise.

The second concern is the radically uneven playing field, with regard to the tactics, the techniques, and the firepower which each side is willing to employ.

Regardless of the reasoning behind it, we have been forcing our troops to fight with one hand (if not both) tied behind their backs – a situation which affords our enemies tremendous advantage.

From allowing “insurgents” to flee into – or to hide weapons caches within – mosques, to allowing our courts to rule that the due process granted to American citizens be afforded terrorists and enemy combatants, to refusing to forcefully interrogate captive terrorists (although when US soldiers were captured, they were not only brutally tortured, but beheaded and mutilated beyond recognition), combat in Iraq has become dangerously asymmetrical.

Make no mistake about it, Mr. President – these are extreme circumstances. We are fighting a war which extends far beyond the bounds of what could be defined as “usual combat,” and we must get a firm grip on this situation before it is too late.

What began as a war to increase the security of the United States, to depose a murderous tyrant, and to bring democracy to a region long known for dictatorships, quickly saw the successful removal of Saddam, as well as the strengthening of America's homeland security by causing terrorists to fight us there, rather than on American soil.

What did not follow, though, was the quick and easy pacification of a region which has long known brute strength as its only currency, and violence as its only bargaining tool.

Jeff Emanuel

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran, is a Leadership fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia, where he also studies Classics. In addition, he is a contributing editor for conservative web log, and is a columnist for the Athens, GA Banner-Herald newspaper.

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