Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Clear and Hold, Then Spread the Inkblot

The Beeb is reporting on military action in Baghdad that appears to be an early wave of the new anti-insurgent strategy in Iraq. In sum, the good guys take the neighborhood, clear the neighborhood of bad guys and then stay there to keep them from coming back. In classic anti-insurgency style, this activity moves outward from key points, like a spreading inkblot on a piece of paper.

For those who said that a surge is not a new strategy, here's the proof otherwise. For those who said it should have happened long ago, well, they may be right, but it's too late to do it long ago.

And let's hope that if this initiative meets with a measure of success, Bush's opponents will show enough sense not to insist that troops be withdrawn willy-nilly despite the success.


Anonymous said...

How many people have died during the failed strategy?

How much time has been lost?

Who is responsible for the failure?

Who is taking responsibility for the failure?

I find it odd that you have been saying month after month that we are winning the war and making progress in Iraq.

Then you can so easily switch gears to say, okay, there's been failure, but the next step will be successful. And there is no accountability for 4 years of failure. No responsibility.

And you can't say, well, it's all Rumsfeld's fault and he got the axe. Bush praised him and his work as he gave him the pink slip. It has only been since the Iraq study group finished its work that the tidal wave has finally come ashore.

And SWNID is standing on the beach with a lollipop in his hand, thinking to himself, "Doesn't this taste great?"

Sorry to be so graphic. The disconnect though is beyond denial.

Jim Shoes said...

Begging your pardon, "anonymous," but progress in war must be judged by historical standards. Wars are complex, take time, are messy, kill too many people, and involve mistakes. Affirming progress does not mean that progress moves apace in all areas, or that tactics should never be modified.

The reality of the Iraq war has been that the American military has consistently prevailed on the field of battle and can hold the territory it invaded indefinitely. There is no way, no way at all, that the United States can lose Iraq unless it loses the poltical will to fight. So yes, we have been winning the war. Saddam was hanged, not Bush. The government of Iraq, such as it is, was elected democratically, not self-appointed after a sectarian war or an invasion from Iran.

The constant drumbeat to turn Iraq into Bush's big mistake is largely an inability to think about the prosecution of a war over the long term. Commanders make mistakes. But they have to command. Every significant victory in war involves lost battles. But good commanders don't quit when the take casualties. Bush's rhetoric about being the "decider" is a simplistic but accurate reflection of this reality.

You caricature SWNID unfairly. Every time he has said the war is going better than the media allows, it is with historical perspective and the reminder that war is hell, not that he would ever say "hell."

Sure, say Bush is an idiot, bring the boys and girls home, let the Middle East fall into the hands of the worst despots imaginable, send suicide bombers into Paris and Barcelona and Berlin and Stockholm and Baltimore and Charlotte and Las Vegas. And then blame Bush again. And then curl up with you game console and your widescreen. If you're still there.

Or just stay and finish the war, awful as it is, because the alternative is more awful. And thank the people with the will to fight.