Less Hope at the WaPo Today

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Oct 16, 2007 9:13 AM

The Washington Post makes up for that ray of sunshine on the editorial page the other day regarding the Iraq war, with today's op-ed, written by 12 former Army captains:
Even with "the surge," we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents' cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet -- moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

U.S. forces, responsible for too many objectives and too much "battle space," are vulnerable targets. The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down is further escalation of attacks -- on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams. They would also no doubt get caught in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.

Iraqi security forces would not be able to salvage the situation. Even if all the Iraqi military and police were properly trained, equipped and truly committed, their 346,000 personnel would be too few. As it is, Iraqi soldiers quit at will. The police are effectively controlled by militias. And, again, corruption is debilitating. U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we're gone.

The end goes the MTV route by suggesting we'd have to reinstate the draft to salvage the country.

Bob Owens asks respectfully why the WaPo doesn't get anyone to write an op-ed who has served in Iraq during the past year:

I value the writers' service and their opinions as soldiers who have served in Iraq, but wouldn't this editorial have meant more if the Washington Post had managed to find soldiers to write it who had actually been in in Iraq in the last year?

Only two of the 12 captains had been in Iraq as late as 2006, with the rest all departing in 2005 or before. None of them are currently on active duty.

While their opinions are valuable from a historical perspective based upon what they've seen while they served, they hardly seem to be best qualified to be able to comment upon the current situation on the ground in Iraq, as it has changed so radically since the last of them departed.

Those who have been on the ground lately have a slightly different view of things.

In good news, CNN had Michael Yon on yesterday to talk about improvements in Basra. It was slightly different than the average Michael Ware report. Props to CNN for calling him up for comment.