So, in military lingo, a “situation report” (SITREP): Regarding Iraq, the past months have brought these developments. . .
OK. What to do?
We have this July 8, 2005, observation by al-Qaida’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri: “We are in a battle, and more than half this battle is in the (U.S.) media.” That was the circumstance during Vietnam, as well, when U.S. battlefield victories (e.g., Tet) were written as defeats, and when American reporting emphasized body counts, failure and alleged free Vietnamese lack of determination to fight.
Today, as then, we hear the government we are there to help — indeed, helped create — is inept, the locals’ have no heart, the U.S. military has the wrong equipment and the wrong tactics in the wrong sort of engagement, and we have no legitimate business in what is, let’s face it, a civil war. Already, as we instigated repeatedly in Vietnam — even including the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem — there is talk of the compelling need in Iraq for regime-change if the American enterprise is to persist.
In the face of all this, let us remember a few things:
So should Bush.
Three senators making particular sense on Iraq are Democrat Joe Lieberman, who fell out with many of his leftist colleagues over (principally) the war, and Republicans Lindsey Graham and John McCain. Sen. Graham: “The Islamic fascists that we’re fighting in the War on Terror have several goals: to drive us out of the region, not just Iraq. . . . (T)he terrorists will say, ‘If you want to be safe, America, leave the region to us . . . (and) give us Israel.’ That’s their agenda. So we’ve got to win in Iraq.” We need to “make a World War II commitment to winning in Iraq and ensure the American people fully understand what is on the line should we fail.”
Sen. McCain: “I believe that (the ISG report) is a recipe that will lead to, sooner or later, our defeat in Iraq.” And: “The consequences of failure (in Iraq) are catastrophe. . . . We leave this place (and there’s) chaos in the region and they’ll follow us home.” And: “I believe there are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this, but they all require the presence of additional troops.”
Regarding troops, nearly all the generals are saying we cannot get along with fewer in Iraq, yet we have insufficient numbers overall to send more — unless we unfairly send back yet again those deployed there already two, three, and four times. We need more troops, but we have no ready, quickly trainable pool. XXX
Despite the prattling of peaceniks, summer soldiers and sunshine patriots — and despite the ISG’s tapioca — the United States must persist in Iraq. It may need new generaling. It absolutely needs more military forces. Congress and the president should co-operate now on a draft or a new program of universal service, but the effect of such new manpower would not be felt for several years. The public — all the public — must be summoned to sacrifice if the war is to be won.
Meanwhile, existing American forces must be moved to secure Iraqi bases for the training of Iraqis to defend themselves — and most U.S. forces assigned to that purpose. Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish leaders must be persuaded to cooperate in the stability and effectiveness of the Iraqi government. Finally, Iran’s and Syria’s regimes must be enlisted to cooperate in Iraqi (and Lebanese) democracy on threat of the destruction of Iran’s nuclear program — swift and sure.