There has been a lot of discussion lately about strategy/tactics/methods in Iraq. There is still little clarity or confirmation of the objective in Iraq on the part of “surge” critics. Discussion of strategy/methods should begin with each person’s clarification of their objectives.
It is clear that the troops want to win. A loss would be devastating to the military and officer corps—as it was after Vietnam. I want a win, no matter how long it takes. I define ‘win’ as the administration does in terms of a government that is representative of its people, a friend of the west, and not a sanctuary for terrorists/extremists. If at first we don’t succeed (and obviously we have not), try and try again. We need to use our minds to figure out how to win, instead of giving up because the task is daunting or our base wants us to.
However, even among critics that seem to have a “win” objective, they assume that it is only a matter of will on the part of the Iraq government. Thus, removing our troops and putting more pressure on the Iraq government would make sense and the surge would be wrong if true. This should be the key debating point. Is the lack of current progress primarily a matter of will on the part of the Iraq government? I agree it is in part, but that this is an insufficient explanation. The troops also seem to disagree that the lack of security is only due to a lack of will on the Iraqi side.
Those who think the surge as worth trying, need to continue to make this point: lack of security is the main impediment to creating the political will, and that Iraq is not ready to create a good security environment in Baghdad on its own. Pulling our troops out of Baghdad is not the answer; rather than create an incentive for Iraqis to provide security, it will likely provide the incentive toward increased sectarian identity—the greatest threat toward winning. We need a new “WIN” button: Whip Insurgents Now.