While folks in the MSM, Democrats and a smattering of folks from the "realist" camp keep on mouthing that Iraq has gone to "hell in a hand-basket". What's even worse is the fact that their publicly talking about how it would be in our best interest to enact various policies like threatening Iraq to shape-up or we'll leave, redeploying our forces to Kuwait or someplace other than Iraq, holding a regional conference that brings folks like Iran and Syria(State-sponsors of terrorism, who prefer the US to go down in flames) into the mix with regards to bringing peace to Iraq, or the chopping up of the nation into three distinctive regions.
Now while all things might sound good to these talking heads in the various salons and watering holes of D.C. on look good in various Op/Eds, they're more than likely going to create even greater problems for our troops, Iraq(Government and citizens), future Administrations and the US in general. Instead of finding ways to reallocate us from this situation by initiating an "honorable victory" thus leaving our allies on the lurch much like Max Boot points out in a recent Op/Ed in the LA Times,, we should be focusing all our time and energy in finding a way to win this war or inflict so much pain on the enemy that they end their aggression against us in Iraq and move elsewhere. Thankfully there are folks in the field of foreign policy like Victor Davis Hanson, Michael Ledeen, Michael Fumento, Ralph Peters, Max Boot, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Frederick W. Kagan and Josh Manchester who are advocating policies that bring about a win rather than an "honorable victory" that others are advocating. Amongst the many pieces by such learned scholars, I have to say that Josh Manchester's "Go Native" piece over at TCS Daily offers a pretty reasonable plan based on classic counterinsurgency/small wars policies that will bring about a lasting victory. Here's a look at Manchester's "Go Native" plan:
1. Dramatically expand the training and advisory efforts. Expand their numbers, funding, and facilities. This doesn't differ much from "Go long," but wait there's more...I'm not sure what the foreign policy elites, talking heads, politicians, and the instant gratifying society of ours is thinking with regards to Iraq but in the "heartland" we want our soldiers to achieve a victory rather than yet more Marine helicopters evacuating our embassy and leaving our allies in yet another maelstrom. Failure and retreat is not an option with Iraq.
2. Create a crash program to develop a massive Arabic linguistic capability within the US military. This is the United States. We put men on the moon. Why don't we train 20,000 or more American military personnel proficient in Arabic in the next 12 months? Sure, it's a difficult language. But nobody has to be able to translate the Koran in order to lead an attack, plan a patrol, or otherwise advise an Iraqi force. Have the president sign an executive order temporarily federalizing the Arabic departments of every US university that has them. The professors will keep the same pay, but it'll be on Uncle Sam's tab and all of their students for the next two years will be military personnel. If our captains, lieutenants, sergeants and corporals have 30 days of Arabic for 12 hours a day with native speaking instructors before deploying, it will get us where we need to be.
3. Give Maliki 60 days to remove the Shi'ite militias from positions of influence in the government. If he asks for help of some kind in doing so, provide it. Give him one last chance to prove that stopping the sectarian killing is more important than satisfying those who hunger for it.
4. If he can't do it, then declare Iraq's security forces to be in receivership. What does this mean? It means that the security forces of Iraq no longer answer to the Iraqi government, they answer to the US military. The government will still exist. It will still be a democracy. But it will temporarily lose control of its military. After doing this, purge the Iraqi forces of those loyal to Shi'ite militias.
5. Create combined US-Iraqi forces. Here's where the go native part really kicks in. Forget about standing our forces down as the Iraqi forces stand up. It seems to actually be working in Anbar province, but the American public and political class don't believe it. Instead, create a situation such that the American forces and the Iraqi forces are one and the same. American forces in small numbers live, eat, sleep, fight and die with their Iraqi counterparts. It will keep the Iraqis honest about not killing each other in wanton bloodshed. And it will earn incredible benefits for the Americans in terms of intelligence gained and cultural lessons learned. This doesn't just apply to the military. It applies to the police, the border patrol, heck, even the Iraqi boy scouts if there's a local chapter.
6. Redeploy as many FOBBITS as possible. What's a Fobbit? A FOB is a forward operating base, and a fobbit is the derogatory term used by combat arms troops to refer to the support personnel who inhabit such gargantuan bases. This is not to look down upon the accomplishments of support personnel. But as much as possible, integrate the logistics of the forces that have gone native with the Iraqis with the Iraqi logistics. This should allow at least a portion of the massive numbers of support troops to come home, reducing our overall presence in the country, and showing a metric of progress to the American people.