July 15, 2005

Democrats *new* plan for Iraq (surrender) teaches our enemies the wrong lessons.

John Deutch, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence for the Clinton administration has a brilliant plan for Iraq: surrender. NY Times:

The insurgency cannot be overcome easily by either United States military forces or immature Iraqi security forces. Nor would the situation be eased even if, improbably, the United Nations, NATO, our European allies and Japan choose to become seriously involved.

Our best strategy now is a prompt withdrawal plan consisting of clearly defined political, military and economic elements. Politically, the United States should declare its intention to remove its troops and urge the Iraqi government and its neighbors to recognize the common regional interest in allowing Iraq to evolve peacefully and without external intervention. The first Iraqi election under the permanent constitution, planned for Dec. 15, is an appropriate date for beginning the pullout.

Militarily, we should establish a timetable for reducing the scope of operations that has enough flexibility so as not to provide a tactical advantage to insurgents. We should also plan on continuing measures like no-flight zones, border surveillance, training for Iraqi security forces, intelligence collection and maintenance of a regional quick-reaction force.

Economically, we should define what amount of assistance we are prepared to extend to Iraq as long as it stays on a peaceful path. It would be best if this aid was but one facet of a broader set of economic initiatives to benefit Arab states that advance our interests.

Of course, these measures cannot guarantee a secure and democratic Iraq free of external domination. But they could be first steps of a strategy to pursue America's true long-term interests in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

Notice how he throws in that phrase at the end, our true long-term interests? What, pray tell, are our true long-term interests in the Middle East?

What is our true long-term interest in the Middle East if not maintaining secular governments and the nation-state system?

The problem with Deutch is that he fundamentally misunderstands who we are fighting in Iraq. We are not fighting a nationalistic insurgency, we are fighting Islamist terrorists. This is not the same war that was fought against Saddam Hussein. This is a different war.

In the first war we fought Saddam Hussein's secular Baathist armies. In this second war we are fighting Islamists allied with al Qaeda. As one who regularly monitors jihadi activity, I can say with some amount of authority that the vast majority of casualties in Iraq come from Abus Musab al-Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq, The Army of Ansar al-Sunna, The Islamic Army in Iraq, and a few other related groups. None of these groups had any interest in maintaining the Arab Socialism of Hussein. All of them share the goal of ousting the U.S. and toppling the Iraqi government.

We won the first war, but will we win the second? That depends.

Terrorists, despite what many on both the Right and Left believe, are not motivated by hate. These are political movements with political goals. Islam, unlike Christianity, does not distinguish between the political and the secular. The political goals of the Islamists are therefore religously motivated--yet they are concrete political goals all the same. In the case of Islamic extremism, the political goals range from the short-term goal of removing US forces from ALL Muslim lands to the very-long-term goal of a unified world government based on Islamic law.

In our rhetoric we say things like, "If [insert fear, civil liberties, etc. here] changes then the terrorists have already won." No, the terrorists are not interested in outlawing pornography, suspending the writ of habeus corpus, or in changing the routes we drive to work--they are interested in specific policy goals none of which have anything to do with U.S. domestic politics (except in the very-very long-term).

Terrorism, as a tactic, is chosen because terrorists believe those tactics will work.

Goal: U.S. Marines out of Beirut.
Tactic: Suicide car-bombing.
Result: U.S. Marines out of Beirut.
Lesson learned: Terrorism works.

They also believe domestic terrorism can lead to specific policy changes.

Goal: Spain out of Iraq.
Tactic: Terrorism against Spanish civilians.
Result: Spain out of Iraq.
Lesson learned: Terrorism works.

The Islamist forces that we are fighting, though, use other tactics as well as terrorism. In Iraq, for instance, much of what these Islamofascist forces are doing are textbook guerilla tactics. I've watched dozens and dozens of al Qaeda and Islamic Army in Iraq videos of U.S. military vehicles being blown up by roadside bombs, mortar attacks on military positions by small paramilitary groups, and even the occasional shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile. Thus, the terrorists we are fighting use terrorism as a tactic, but also use the tactic of guerilla warfare.

Why would they think they can defeat us in Iraq using geurilla warfare?

Goal: Soviet military out of Afghanistan/imposition of Islamic law.
Tactic: Guerilla warfare.
Result: Soviet military out of Afghanistan/imposition of Islamic law.
Lesson learned: Geurilla warfare works against super-powers.

But Afghanistan was not the only place where this lesson was learned.

Goal: U.S. military out of Somalia.
Tactic: Guerilla warfare.
Result: U.S. military out of Somalia.
Lesson learned: Geurilla warfare works against super-powers.

So, what will happen if we pull-out of Iraq? Can our long-term national interests be met using this tactic?

Goal: U.S. military out of Iraq/imposition of Islamic law.
Tactic: Guerilla warfare.
Result: U.S. military out of Iraq/civil war possibly leading to Islamic law.
Lesson learned: Geurilla warfare works against super-powers.

If we truly wish to win the second war in Iraq, we cannot abandon her to our enemies. If we do then the lesson they will learn is that the U.S. can be beaten. And if the U.S. is beaten in Iraq, then the U.S. can be beaten elsewhere.

That is a lesson we cannot afford our enemies to learn.

Hat tip Dale Franks from QandO

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:35 PM | Comments |