Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

As War Rages, A Senatorial Slumber Party

Exhausted from a rigorous couple hours of tipping at windmills, Dem Sen leader Harry Reid retired to a cot in a parlor off his office at around midnight last night, proving Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn right:
"I bet I can stay up longer than they can." (source)
Do you remember that game from third grade? I do ... barely. I was a lot younger and less mature back when I played it last.

It was Reid's attempt to paint the GOP as obstructionist (as opposed to ridiculous, perhaps?) in the lead-up to a vote on a mono-partisan bill (by Levin and Reed, two Dems) that would require troop withdrawal to begin in 120 days, even though Gen. Patraeus' update isn't due for another 40 days or so. After the retreat begins on April 30, an unspecified number of troops would be allowed to remain in Iraq to fight terrorists, protect U.S. assets and train Iraqi security forces.

This from the party that criticized Bush for having too few troops in Iraq. What a bunch of blithering hypocrites.

They might as well have brought out fiddles instead of cots and fiddled while the Republic burned.

Meanwhile, though you'd never know it if your source of info was only the bleary-eyed Dem Sens who droned on last night, things in Iraq are picking up.

A couple issues back, Weekly Standard's cover story was The New Strategy in Iraq, which I highly recommend as a primer on the history of the war. It detailed the flaws of earlier campaigns -- Fallujah, Najaf, Sadr City, Tel Afar, Ramadi, Baghdad, detailing the flaws in the strategies and tactics, and what was learned from each.
First, political progress by itself will not reduce the violence.

Second, all American efforts to establish local security in Iraq have been hindered by the paucity of U.S. troops there (Hear that, Harry?), yet some have succeeded even so.

Third, rapid reductions in Coalition forces after clearing operations undermined the success of almost all past operations.

Fourth, every successful operation was preceded by commanders' taking the time to develop a good intelligence picture of the situation. To do this, they moved forces into the area and made contact with the local population.

Fifth, Coalition casualties generally increase at the start of major clearing operations, when Coalition troops move into areas previously held by the enemy .... As clearing proceeds to its conclusion, however, violence generally drops and Coalition casualties begin to fall.
You might say "Duh!" to all that, and it's easy to do as an armchair general, but the point is, the war being fought in Iraq today is one that benefits from these lessons and is very different from the war that was fought a year or two ago.
Al Qaeda's operations in Baghdad--its bombings, kidnappings, resupply activities, movement of foreign fighters, and financing--depend on its ability to move people and goods around the rural outskirts of the capital as well as in the city. Petraeus and Odierno, therefore, are conducting simultaneous operations in many places in the Baghdad belt: Falluja and Baquba, Mahmudiya, Arab Jabour, Salman Pak, the southern shores of Lake Tharthar, Karma, Tarmiya, and so on. By attacking all of these bases at once, Coalition forces will gravely complicate the enemy's movement from place to place, as well as his ability to establish new bases and safe havens. At the same time, U.S. and Iraqi forces have already disrupted al Qaeda's major bases and are working to prevent the enemy from taking refuge in the city. U.S. forces are also aggressively targeting Shia death-squad leaders and helping Iraqi forces operating against Shia militias. ...

[T]here is every reason to believe at this stage that the current operation and its likely successor will dramatically reduce the level of violence in Baghdad, and do so in a way that will prove sustainable. That accomplishment in itself will be a major contribution to American security, in that it will entail a major defeat for al Qaeda and its allies, now surging in response to our stepped-up operations. And it will create an unprecedented situation in postwar Iraq: one in which Iraq's elected government can meet and discuss policies in relative security in a capital returning to normal; in which Sunni and Shia can afford to compromise without fear of an imminent sectarian explosion; and in which Iraqi forces can become increasingly responsible for maintaining the security that they have helped to establish. The current strategy is on track to produce that outcome--which is why it deserves to be given every chance to succeed.
You might think it too simple, too optimistic, and you're entitled to your opinion -- which may very well be wrong. One thing is certain: If the nay-sayers were to prevail in Congress (they won't), military planning would have to shift from surge-capture-hold to retreat-release. Congress doesn't seem to understand that retreating in defeat takes planning and time to implement, so a vote against the war today effectively ends the war today.

Fortunately, the Dems (which I'm tempted to refer to hereafter as "The Slumber Party") can't muster 60 votes against the war, so the generals will go on improving their tactics and winning the war, despite the best efforts of Dozin' Harry Reid.

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