Iraq: What to do, what to do

Time for a recap.

The election. Having the Democrats take control of the House and the Senate, the margin of which is smaller than the crack of my ass, means nothing with regards to steering a new course for Iraq, in and of itself. With a GOP President, the House and the Senate, with their current Democratic numbers, won’t be able to affect change. I was not surprised to see the stock market go up — the market likes stability, and with the Democrats in charge of Congress, there won’t be any change because they don’t have the numbers to force it and the President can always veto.

The SECDEF resigning. Rumsfeld resigned in order to set the stage for the 2008 election. The White House knew they’d need to sacrifice him and replace him with someone less contentious, if the GOP is to have a change in the elections in two years.

The message. One thing that did come out of this election was the message that what is seen as rudderless drifting on how to win in Iraq is an issue about which the media, and maybe even the voters, seem to care. Whether that’s a fair or valid assessment is irrelevant; if it’s perceived that way, it’s a problem. The GOP has two years to get back into the game to take some steps to change this perception — expect some changes with regard to Iraq, but expect it to be changes related more to campaign posturing than anything else.

What not to do. CNN this morning talked of three options for Iraq, all of which sound…. I was going to say stupid, but that’s not it. Unproductive might be the word. Incapable of producing the desired results sounds even better.

  1. Pull the troops off the line in Iraq, and move them to bases / locations outside of the areas of violence. More like firemen than policemen, was the comparison. I think that the assumption is that the Iraqis would be forced to use their own security forces to step in and fill this day-to-day void in places like Baghdad and Sadr City, but really, can you think of any reason why the Iraqi government would really want to do this? Please don’t say “Because the people need protection” or something like “to provide security for their citizens” — that’s looking at it from the American perspective. We want and need them to think like that, for this to work — think about why they would actually do it. They don’t, as I see it, currently has the means to provide the comprehensive security for the nation that will be needed to end the violence — why in the world would they step in early — prematurely — and throw some of the limited number of troops to the wolves? If the government cracks down, it’s going to have to crack down on the militias, which means cracking down on the supporters that help keep the government, well, a government. Love that support and the delicate balance that lets the Iraqi government wobble along now will be gone.
  2. Bring in more American trainers, to train more Iraqi units faster. We train Iraqi units, and the soldiers go AWOL. We train Iraqi units, and they have challenges in maintaining their proficiency and skills. We train Iraqi units, and the units become death squads. throughput is not the problem — quality is the problem. And it’s not a quality of training issue, it’s an issue — a set of issues — for the Iraqi government.
  3. Set date and timelines to hand things over to the Iraqis. Even if the Iraqi government agreed to the concept of such an idea, why in the world would they actually do it? They’re not in a position to take over and provide the comprehensive security needed for their country. If the US backs off / out, and things go to hell in a hand basket, the Iraqi government has an easy scapegoat for their blames — the US. And, really, timelines are not a part of the Arab way of life. Setting dates or a time line would not force the Iraqis to step up and into a different role than they have now — it would just force the issue of a failed promise.

But what the hell would I know.

For me, there are two very disappointing things about this election.

Before the election, many candidates talked of the war in Iraq as being a very important issue in the election and their campaigns. Exit polls show that it was an issue for the voters.

Yet for all this, neither the Democrats or the Republican Parties have, as part of their platform, a plan for victory in Iraq. One Democratic leader on CNN yesterday, asked what the win means for the Democrats with regards to the war, stated that it was a new chance for everyone to sit down and talk about it.

Sweet Mary, Mother of God. What the hell have you been doing for the past 3+ years? “Let’s have a debate!” “Let’s form a special committee!” “Let’s fund a new study!” “Let’s appoint a special prosecutor!”

The other thing was Nancy Pelosi stating that she and the Democrats had a whole slew of things to implement in the first 100 hours.

Was Iraq one of them?

Um, no. Raising the minimum wage, crap like that. Not the #1 issue of the campaign, not the #1 issue of the election, not the #1 issue with the voters. Nope. Nothing on Iraq.

Let’s talk about that…..

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