Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Right Moves In Iraq?

President Bush is apparently preparing a fairly major policy proposal concerning Iraq. According to this AP report, Bush intends to announce that troop levels will be increased, as well as programs to improve the unemployment situation, such as direct loans to Iraqi businesses.

As many congressmen are already noting, a troop increase will not work unless it is directly tied to specific policy goals and benchmarks for gauging progress. What goals and benchmarks? As I have written about many times before, the single most important move will be challenging the various militias that are undermining the authority of the government and doing so much damage. One only need to look at the fallout from the chaotic execution of Saddam Hussein for an example of how badly sectarian division is stressing the country.

I believe a winning strategy is still possible. So long as the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds still seem to have some possibility of cooperating and participating in the central government, it is still possible to forge a successful country. This is why I've been so resistant to calling the situation a "civil war." The government still exists and, as of yet, the mainstream Sunnis and Shiites are still attempting to make it work. If Bush is willing to risk the political fallout from increased fighting and casualties, and if he wants to give winning its best chance, he must increase the troops for the purpose of destroying the militias and strengthening the Iraqi government. If, however, he increases the boots on the ground without changing their mission, all hope is lost.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

It strikes me as too little, too late. I don't think 20,000 extra troops are going to accomplish much, and the extra reconstruction money and New Deal-style public works employment for unemployed men was what was needed right after the invasion. I think it doesn't even begin to address the problem now.
A friend of a friend was recently in Basra with the Royal Fusiliers. His camp was getting mortared on a regular basis and his lads were getting ambushed, and this in an almost purely Shi'a town that supposedly supports the government. In fact, he said that Iraqi police were involved in every single ambush, firing on the Tommies with weapons they had just helped train them to use. That British Army raid on the Special Police base there over Christmas was not entirely due to their irregular treatment of prisoners.