Iraq Updates: Abandoning Anbar?, Maliki Meeting Pushed Back, Winning a War

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 29, 2006 1:56 PM

Gen. Peter Pace of the joint chiefs of staff did a Pentagon briefing today in which he denied that the U.S. is thinking of pulling out of al-Anbar. I blogged about that yesterday.

"Is that something you're giving serious consideration to?"

"No."

"Would you like to elaborate?"

"You gave me a very straight question. I gave you a very straight answer. Why would we want to cede any part of the country to the enemy?"

But there are three battalions moving into Baghdad from other parts of the country.

Bush's and al-Maliki's meeting, scheduled for today, has been pushed back to Thursday, in the wake of a leaked memo questioning Maliki's ability and efforts to lead Iraq out of violence:

The New York Times today published a memo written by White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley after a trip to Baghdad that, while offering some praise for the Iraqi leader, raises doubts about whether Maliki is able take the steps necessary to secure his country.

``The reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action,'' the classified memo says according to the Times...

Hadley's memo offers several recommendations to enhance Maliki's capabilities, including allowing him to take more credit for positive developments in Iraq and giving him more control of security forces, according to the Times. It also suggests continuing to target al-Qaeda strongholds in Baghdad and seeking a recommendation from military commanders about whether more forces are needed in the Iraqi capital, where much of the recent violence has been concentrated.

The possibility of increasing troop levels to help quell the violence is likely to be discussed during the meetings in Amman. One of the administration officials said that may mean more Iraqi troops and not necessarily more U.S. forces.

Maliki's effort to gain control of his country ``has not produced adequate progress in an acceptable time frame,'' Hadley said yesterday at the site of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit, before the memo was published. ``He has taken steps. Obviously, they have a long way to go.''

Josh Manchester, a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve officer who's always worth reading on Iraq matters, has ideas for winning:

1. Dramatically expand the training and advisory efforts. Expand their numbers, funding, and facilities. This doesn't differ much from "Go long," but wait there's more...

2. Create a crash program to develop a massive Arabic linguistic capability within the US military. This is the United States. We put men on the moon. Why don't we train 20,000 or more American military personnel proficient in Arabic in the next 12 months? Sure, it's a difficult language. But nobody has to be able to translate the Koran in order to lead an attack, plan a patrol, or otherwise advise an Iraqi force. Have the president sign an executive order temporarily federalizing the Arabic departments of every US university that has them. The professors will keep the same pay, but it'll be on Uncle Sam's tab and all of their students for the next two years will be military personnel. If our captains, lieutenants, sergeants and corporals have 30 days of Arabic for 12 hours a day with native speaking instructors before deploying, it will get us where we need to be.

3. Give Maliki 60 days to remove the Shi'ite militias from positions of influence in the government. If he asks for help of some kind in doing so, provide it. Give him one last chance to prove that stopping the sectarian killing is more important than satisfying those who hunger for it.

Read the whole thing. Josh always offers concrete ideas, which is so odd it's unsettling if you've been listening to talking heads for too long.