Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Is This Bush's Victory Plan?

Reports out of the White House media Christmas party are extremely upbeat ... for those of us who aren't bitterly "Kostic" in our attitudes about the war and the president. Writes Fred Barnes:
It turns out you only have to attend a White House Christmas party to find out where President Bush is headed on Iraq. One guest who shook hands with Bush in the receiving line told him, "Don't let the bastards get you down." Bush, slightly startled but cheerful, replied, "Don't worry. I'm not." The guest followed up: "I think we can win in Iraq." The president's reply was emphatic: "We're going to win." Another guest informed Bush he'd given some advice to the Iraq Study Group, and said its report should be ignored. The president chuckled and said he'd made his position clear when he appeared with British prime minister Tony Blair. The report had never mentioned the possibility of American victory. Bush's goal in Iraq, he said at the photo-op with Blair, is "victory."
Bush is too smart to accept the ISG report, and apparently has also rejected a recently leaked Pentagon report for puting too much emphasis on training before confronting the task of wiping out the greasy bastards behind the insurgency.

So, against that backdrop, how's this for the start of an Executive Summary of yet another study on what we should do in Iraq?
Victory is still an option in Iraq. America, a country of 300 million people with a GDP of $12 trillion, and more than one million soldiers and marines can regain control of Iraq, a state the size of California with a population of 25 million and a GDP under $100 billion.

Victory in Iraq is vital to America’s security. Defeat will lead to regional conflict, humanitarian catastrophe, and increased global terrorism.

Iraq has reached a critical point. The strategy of relying on a political process to eliminate the insurgency has failed. Rising sectarian violence threatens to break America’s will to fight. This violence will destroy the Iraqi government, armed forces, and people if it is not rapidly controlled.

Victory in Iraq is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively.
Bush was briefed on this report last week, and Barnes says it's the one that gets the nod, that will form the foundation of Bush's new approach to the war, scheduled to be announced in a couple weeks. Says Barnes:
Retired General Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army, gave him a thumbnail sketch of it during a meeting of five outside experts at the White House. The president's reaction, according to a senior adviser, was "very positive."
You can read the report, Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq here, at the American Enterprise Institute Web site. It's pretty simple:
  1. We must change our focus from training Iraqi soldiers to securing the Iraqi population and containing the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority.
  2. We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations starting in the Spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient.
  3. These forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear critical Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shi’a neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.
  4. After the neighborhoods have been cleared, U.S. soldiers and marines, again partnered with Iraqis, will remain behind to maintain security.
  5. As security is established, reconstruction aid will help to reestablish normal life and, working through Iraqi officials, will strengthen Iraqi local government.
Should this be the plan Bush goes with, one particulalry nice element is that it's a firm "back at ya" to the Saudis, who recently threatened us to back the Iraqi Sunnis or else. (here and here)

It also would ensure a fight to the finish on Capitol Hill, since more soldiers and more money for equipment aren't exactly Jack Murtha's top two priorities and he's now the King of Appropriations.

I like it more than any of the other plans, but don't expect to see it adopted as is. There are other good ideas, like Josh Manchester's "Go Native" approach, which offers up both a good plan for stopping the insurgency, and a better approach to phase two, training and turning it over.

hat-tip: Real Clear Politics
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