Do You Have a Strategy for Winning in Iraq?

soldiers signAccording to exit polls yesterday, Republicans took the whupping they did because most Americans are unhappy with Bush’s handling of the War in Iraq.  Repeatedly, the President has urged patience, and says that “we will stand down when the Iraqis stand up”.  But we continue to see the ethnic violence escalate, and watch Iran pour money, firearms and true-believer terrorists into the streets of Iraq.  So what is the answer? And don’t just say, “Bush lied.” How do we win the war?

Many conservative generals and pundits recommend doubling the number of American troops in Iraq to gain security and control.  The only democrat with a plan, other than “get out now” is Delaware Senator Joe Biden.  Here is his plan:

U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-DE) and Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb laid out a five point plan for Iraq on May 1, 2006 in a joint op-ed in the New York Times. The Biden-Gelb plan is a chance to achieve the two objectives most Americans share: to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind. The plan would maintain a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis breathing room in their own regions – as provided for in the Iraqi constitution. The central government would be responsible for common interests, like border security and the distribution of oil revenues. The plan calls for securing support from the Sunnis – who have no oil — by guaranteeing them a proportionate share (about 20 percent) of oil revenues. It would increase economic aid, ask the oil-rich Arab Gulf states to fund it and tie all assistance to the protection of minority rights and the creation of a jobs program. It would convene a regional conference to enlist the support of Iraq’s neighbors and create a Contact Group of the major powers to enforce their commitments. And the plan would ask our military to draw up plans to responsibly withdraw most U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2007 – enough time for the political settlement to take hold.

What is your plan? And don’t just say, “Bring home the troops.” Give us a strategy for WINNING in Iraq and not leaving a bloodbath behind, like we did in Cambodia.


22 Responses to Do You Have a Strategy for Winning in Iraq?

  1. J says:

    The damage done is irreversible. A million men and fifty years might do the trick, but probably not. All we can do is declare victory and bring the troops home. The only real question is when we’ll do it, and how many brave Americans will have given their lives by then.

  2. Not a plan…that is a retreat. And how do you avoid leaving behind chaos and a bloodbath like we did in Cambodia?

  3. J says:

    Those who have helped us there are dead men walking, just they were in Vietnam. I don’t like it. Nothing is going to change it.

  4. Daniel B says:

    Having traveled to Kosovo this past spring on a missions trip I have a very different take. Without rehashing the history of the Kosovo war that lasted throught the 90’s I can tell you that now after about a decade of relative “peace” there really isn’t any peace. The UN plan is always to better the people through education. All this does is leave a nation of highly educated bums with no jobs. The guy who drove us around had a degree in civil engineering and yet had nothing to do and was happy to take a job driving us around. How could someone with a civil engineering degree be unemployed in a country that had all it’s bridges destroyed?

    The point is even if we get our troops out of Iraq and turn control over to the UN no success will come. We MUST turn it over to the Iraqi people and they MUST take control. There is no timetable on something like this, in the meantime is it worth our troops to die for this cause? If it means stability in the most unstable region in the world then of course it does.

    The “stay the course” strategy may not look too cool, but it worked for you in highschool. It worked for your parents in discipling you. It worked for Tony Gwynn in hitting.

    In a nation as divided as Iraq civil democracy will take a while. It doesn’t help that they percieve the current American governement of back-bighting and name calling to be the model. They don’t understand why we AREN’T blowing each other up. To them, actions speak louder then words. But they will get it, they have to.

  5. It worked for your parents in disciplining you

    The jury is still out on that.

  6. Glyn Burns says:

    Whatever way you look at it, there is no strategy which doesn’t involve the unncessary deaths of innocent people. [who, by the way, did not invite us to invade their beloved country, whatever the Neocons would have you believe].
    Having said that – maybe saying ‘sorry’ would be a good start.

  7. J says:

    Glyn – I don’t think an apology is owed. We did those animals a solid they didn’t deserve, don’t apprectiate, and can’t take advantage of. We should write them off and make sure they understand that if and when they cause us problems we’ll transform their sand into glass.

  8. Whatever way you look at it, there is no strategy which doesn’t involve the deaths of innocent people.

    Wouldn’t that have been true in WW2 also, when we helped save Europe from the Nazis?

  9. Ben says:

    Jim, kudos to you for bringing up the most important discussion that needs to be had about Iraq. I think there a couple of things to consider:

    1) Where has nation building worked? I would hold out Japan as probably the best example in modern times. They went from a kamikaze military dictatorship to a peace-loving and extremely productive society due to Allied efforts after WW2, and a reaction against violence by its own people. Germany is another good example.

    2) That brings us to… culture. I’m not sure that nation building efforts can be as successful in a culture where freedom and honesty and industry are valued less than power and control and religious dominance. To a large extent, I think Islam as a religion tends to breed societies where violence is viewed as an acceptable means of expressing disagreement. Thats why we have death squads killing people for essentially being in a different denomination of Islam.

    That being said, I’m not sure we can succeed in Iraq (if by success you mean a stable nation where all factions live together harmoniously), absent a terribly repressive and tyrannical government (hello, Saddam). I am curious about the idea of segmenting the country for the different ethnic groups. Although I think that would lead to a Vietnam or Korea style arrangement, it may be the only exit strategy we have that does not result in full-scale civil war. That approach is certainly not ideal, and would probably lead to future problems (see N. Korea), but at least there could be a tenuous peace.

    What’s your take? How long will our troops have to stay there if we continue with the current strategy – propping up a weak democracy which does not have the support of a significant percentage of the populace.


  10. Glyn — Not getting off the hook that easy, my friend. What is your solution other than wringing your hands and lashing out at those “mean neocons”? Give us a real strategy for winning and withdrawing without leaving a bloody genocide (like Cambodia).

    Ben — It took us 10 years in Japan to create stability, and that was a country where they worshiped their leader. This is more complicated, obviously, because it involves multiple ethnicities. I think Biden’s idea seems smart, but I would combine it with a massive increase in troops to bring stability (and at least be able to drive to the airport without getting blown up). I like the idea of a federal government split into ethnic regions sharing oil profits. The Kurds are a huge success story; they are thriving with their own airports, schools, and a remarkable lack of violence. Why? Because they are one, ethnic group.

    For those of you who say, “But dividing along ethnic lines isn’t American!’, look at Revelation. Even in heaven, John saw every language, tribe, people and race worshiping God before the throne. So I guess we will retain some of our ethnic and national identity even in heaven.

  11. George W Romer says:

    There is only one solution: Pray: Come Quickly Lord Jesus!

  12. Glenn Martin says:

    I think the only solution is to do exactly what President Bush is trying to do which is stay the course. Even though many people seem to be upset there is no refuting we have not been attacked since 9/11 in America. If we stop pursuing the enemy it will only give them time and opportunity to re-organize and strategize another attack on America or elsewhere. We are no longer fighting a battle of just America vs Iraq, we are fighting a radical Islam extremist belief that all Americans are evil and should be killed. There is no quick solution only peserverance and standing our ground. If Pelosi and the democrats try to withdraw I truly believe we will be in far worse shape in the near future. No President in history has had to fight an idealogical radical belief as that of President Bush. I just hope his succesor has the moral fortitude to pursure the enemy with a vengeance as He has. So in a nutshell I believe for many years we will need to fight this evil belief with all we have and eventually God willing good will prevail as it always has.

  13. Mark Steyn agrees with you, Glenn, in today’s Chicago Sun Times,CST-EDT-steyn12.article

  14. Brad says:

    Alright, I have two thoughts, neither can I claim as my own. I have no problem dividing along ethnic or racial lines. I think the Kurds would probably love to do it and maybe the rest of Iraq wouldn’t even quarrel with that. Getting the rest of the country to divide between the two Islamic groups will be very difficult. I think, though, it’s worth a shot to try and make such a plan work.

    Part two involves what we, Americans, should do while we remain in Iraq. Part one of part two would involve diplomacy (sorry Jim, I know you think diplomacy’s a four letter word. :-)) in that we need to convince the rest of the world that it is in their interest to become invovled in Iraq. If that means we eat some crow for our actions there, well I’m for it. Am I more concerned about America’s reputation or securing peace in the Middle East? When we get enough alliance troops in the heart of the country, training Iraqis, protecting Iraqis, we withdraw to the borders. We do the work of keeping outside forces and arms out of Iraq. That way we remove a political cudgel both the left and the rest of the world use against us. We help to protect Iraq but from the hinterlands, far from the cameras. We let other nations, who frankly the Iraqis might prefer seeing right now, take on the day to day interaction with the populace. No more great Satan running the lives of the poor Iraqis. Now the world is helping them and the Great Satan is just securing the borders from outside interference. A vital job but one out of the limelight.

    There you go.

    And Jim, infinity + 1. 🙂


  15. All right, Brad…a real plan….kudos. Except that your plan hinges on other nations stepping in, and every last one of them has refused to get involved. We tried that two years ago, but as soon as the U.N. headquarters in Iraq got bombed, they pulled out, never to return. Looks good on paper, but no cigar.

  16. This interview in Canada’s National Post of a former Muslim is a MUST READ for those interested in negotiation or winning hearts and minds.

    Here’s the money quote:

    He’s exasperated now, visibly angry at what he sees as a willful Western foolishness. “Stop asking what you have done wrong. Stop it! They’re slaughtering you like sheep and you still look within. You criticize your history, your institutions, your churches. Why can’t you realize that it has nothing to do with what you have done but with what they want.”

    God help us to take this threat seriously!

  17. Echo_ohcE says:

    I don’t understand the analysis being done on this situation. I just don’t get it. I watch the news, and it’s almost like the “experts” are trying to misunderstand the situation. I hear the rhetoric from politicians, and I am dumbfounded. Do they really just not get it?

    First, to call what’s going on there a civil war is absolutely preposterous. When I say that, I’m not speaking to anyone in this thread. You guys are just doing the best you can to figure it all out from watching the news. But there are people who are privy to a lot more information, and they’re being suspiciously quiet. It’s aboslutely outrageous to say that this is a civil war going on.

    How do you define “civil war”? When I think of civil war, I think of the American Civil War of the 1800’s. In that war, the South wanted to break off from the North, and the North didn’t allow them to. It was Americans against Americans. In my mind, if the Mexicans had flooded our borders in those days and incited the South to go to war with the North, I’m not sure it would have still been called a Civil War. It probably would have been called something like “the Mexican Attempt to take over part of our country, in response to which they got spanked en masse by the North.”

    In Iraq, it is not simply a matter of Iraqi versus Iraqi in a struggle to see who will be in control of the government. What you are seeing on your TV’s every night during dinner is not a civil war. What you are witnessing is the attempted annexation of a country by another country. IRAN is behind this. IRAN is inciting the violence. ALL of it. Even though Iran is a Shia dominated country and government, I guarantee you that they have NO QUALMS WHATSOEVER in conducting attacks on Shia Muslims in order to incite the Shia against the Sunnis. If you ask a Muslim what value they place on human life, they’ll tell you: none. They are not psychotic nut-jobs that are simply willing to do terrible things for the sake of their religion. Nope, their religion actually places a low value on human life. Whereas a mass murderer might be said to have a low value of human life because of their actions, still, this person will eventually be caught, and will feel guilty for their actions, because they KNOW that it was wrong. Muslims are quite different. Muslims not only don’t know it’s wrong to commit murder, they actually think it’s a good thing. They do not believe that human life is worth anything. If they notice that a suicide bomber has conducted an attack in say, Jerusalem, and that he’s killing himself, 2 Jews and 16 Muslims, they’re happy. The lives of 16 Muslims along with the suicide bomber himself, is totally worth it to kill 2 Jews. That just brings them 2 Jews closer to wiping them off the face of the earth. My point is, it’s not that they know it’s wrong to conduct acts of terror or whatever, and they do it anyway. They not only don’t know it’s wrong, they feel very strongly to the contrary.

    What you are witnessing in Iraq is Iranian aggression. What do you suppose that the Iranians have in mind? If they can get the Shia and Sunni fighting each other, they can turn the whole country into a war zone and make the US look like idiots, perhaps leading our country to such despair that we’d vote the Republicans out of power and pull out. I hate to sound conspiratorial, but have you ever noticed a similarity in talking points between Muslims and radical liberals? Their agenda is the same. They want the US out of Iraq. So the Iranians are doing whatever they can to get us out. They know that the most effective way to do that is through a propoganda war. Make the US look stupid, drive the voters to despair, and they’ll vote the only ones with the stomach for fighting out of power. We’ll simply lull them to sleep, they say.

    Meanwhile, the Iranians know that if they just keep at it, eventually they’ll win. Allah wills it. They don’t care how many people die. It doesn’t even keep them awake at night. The Koran says that since we people are the result of a despicable fluid, we are worthless. We are of no more value than if you were to spit on the ground. If you were to tell the Iranians that a million people would die as a result of their actions, they’d shrug their shoulders and wonder when you were going to get to the point.

    So what do you think Iran wants beyond the US pullout from Iraq? Remember Persia? That is their roots. Persia had an empire that stretched from India to Turkey. That’s what Iran wants. That’s exactly what the world will give them too, at this rate.

    So let’s look at a somewhat bigger picture.

    Let’s say we carve up Iraq into 3 pieces. Fine. Then all we need to do is patrol some border areas where the violence flares up, and eventually they can do this themselves. That sounds reasonable. There are many problems with this.

    First, for some reason, people assume that if you separate the Shia from the Sunni that they’ll stop trying to kill each other. That’s just plain wrong. The violence won’t even decrease a little bit. Here’s an important piece of information: there are a LOT of good roads in Iraq. There are so many roads in Iraq, no military in the world could patrol them all. Smuggling literally cannot be controlled in any meaningful way. It just can’t be. Borders will not make any difference. None at all.

    Second, if you carve up the country, not only will you not solve any of the old problems, you’ll create new ones. For example, Turkey said it would invade if the Kurds are given their own country. We have good reason to believe this. If we gave the Kurds their own little piece of land, they would immediately be annexed by Turkey. Also, probably you have in mind cutting off a large portion of Southern Iraq and making it the Shia portion? Don’t worry, Iran will probably wait a month after we withdraw before they annex it and declare war on the Sunni portion, which, by the way, will also find itself at war with Syria. Syria and Lebanon are already puppet governments of Iran, so if this all took place, Iran would stretch from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel.

    Third, if this happens, there’s no way that the US will go back. No way. When Iran suddenly triples in size overnight, no one in the US military at any level will think it a good idea to go and fight them. The Europeans will be afraid of them. People will probably demand that all NATO troops be pulled out of Afghanistan, fearing that such a small number of troops could become overwhelmed any day, and well, we don’t want to be compelled to go to war with a juggernaut like Iran will turn out to be. And when and if they pull out, then Afghanistan will become a Muslim country again, but perhaps under the Shia. Then we’ll see what Pakistan, another Muslim country has to say. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would by no means be able to defend themselves. They’d just be sitting there like ripe, juicy fruit, ready to be plucked. And it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Egypt would agree to fight against Israel from the West, while Iran fought against them from the East. Many people in our country would be against getting involed in a new “crusade”. After all, the Muslims don’t care one bit if a million people die. They want to rule from atop Mt Zion in Jerusalem. They don’t care what it takes to get there. Millions of lives, thousands of years, all fine and good.

    And then we will see a Muslim empire that stretches from Egypt to India that controls all the world’s oil.

    Yep, that’s almost CERTAINLY what would happen if we carved up Iraq and pulled out. But what if we just pulled out without carving the country up? Same thing. Iran would probably then have to declare open war with Iraq to annex them, a war they could easily win.

    Iran is in a win-win situation and they know it. They will continue to pursue nukes, and they will continue to threaten the US, and they know it is effective. Sure, Iran is pretty podunk by our standards, but ask anyone in the military if they want to go to war with Iran and they’ll tell you no (unless they haven’t thought about it and they’re just bloodthirsty.) Just look at a topographical map of Iran. Nothing but vast amounts of land, mountainous land. Most of the country is mountains. Combine that with the fact that they’ll fight to the very last man, that’s an unwinnable war. It doesn’t get more unwinnable than that. Rough terrain, an enemy with a greater will to fight than you, yeah, the only thing that would make the war more unwinnable is if they asked another country to help them fight against us.

    Iran knows this. That’s why they know no one is going to stop them from getting nukes. Sanctions? Who cares? They can’t enforce them anyway. We’ll get what we need from Iraq. Maybe they’ll let us have an oil for food program.

    Bottom line, if we pull out of Iraq, we make Iran into an unstoppable super-power.

    We are going to pull out of Iraq eventually. And when we do, mark my words, these events will take place.

    But what about Israel? They’d probably be willing to fight against the Iranians, wouldn’t they? They can’t or won’t unless the world unleashes them or Iran attacks them. They shame Israel for defending itself constantly. Unless Iran attacks them, they can’t do anything. Iran won’t attack them until they have to, until they’re powerful enough to win.

    So what’s the solution? The only one I can think of is to drastically increase the troops in Iraq, and get seriously about the business of making war. We need to KILL all of the Iranians in Iraq, all of the trouble makers. We need to have enough troops in Iraq to do what’s called a Cordon and Search of Baghdad. That would take a LOT of troops. Basically, they surround the city very early in the morning before the sun comes up, and totally cut off the city. Then they go house to house and search every single house in the city. Anyone in possession of weapons or explosives of any kind should be tried and executed for treason by the Iraqi courts. They can hang them from the gallows along the roads in and out of Baghdad. That ought to calm things down for a while. Once they do that, they need to get serious about border security. Meanwhile, this will give the Iraqis time to build an army. They need an army large enough and powerful enough to serve as a deterrent to Iran, to try to prevent them from invading. Once that army is built, then we can leave without Iran becoming a super-power. They’ll still go to war with Iraq, but they won’t win so easily. They can probably appeal to us for help at that point, and maybe we’d even be able to. Or maybe western europe could. But it’s better than just giving it to them.

    All of this to me seems like common sense for people who are trained to think about such things. What boggles my mind is that no one in our government or media is saying much about these things. That’s too bad.

    My prediction is that we’ll begin a phased withdrawl, while Iran begins a phased annexation.

    But we don’t really have to be terrified about this prospect, even if it happens, although I agree that it would be really terrible for Iran to take over the oil of the Middle East. I mean, we can, after all, drill in Alaska, and Russia has a lot, and so does South America. We’ll be fine, even if the price goes up, which it will. But that will be the worst of it, because eventually they’ll go to war with Israel, and that will at least take some time. Hopefully the US will at LEAST go to their aide in some way. Jewish men from all over the world will flock there to fight against the Muslims to protect the “holy land”, and probably there will be a number of “Left Behind” adherents that will as well. That ought to keep Iran busy for a while. Of course, Iran might just find troops reinforcements in the millions and millions of Muslims in Indonesia. That would be bad. Do you know that there are a BILLION Muslims in the world? We probably have a good 10 million of them in the US. Maybe less, I don’t know. But hopefully the FBI will be properly funded…oh, I forgot, we all vote the Democrats into power. The FBI won’t be properly funded for a while.

  18. Brad says:


    But two years ago we went in virtually alone, seemingly thumbing our nose at the rest of the world. Now we’re coming from a different position. And that’s a negotiating tool. Eating crow can be a powerful motivator to some countries. “Can we make America look bad by bailing them out in Iraq and looking like the ones who finally brought peace?” they might wonder. Fine, if they want to crow a little at our mishandling, fine. Moms around America are telling siblings to be the bigger man. So what if he calls you names, be the bigger man. I want to attempt peace over there more than I’m concerned about Bush’s or America’s reputation. So two years ago, in the face of what they felt was American hubris (and it may well have been) they refused to help. There might be a different feeling now. That’s why we try. It isn’t insanity to go back and try again, it’s seeing the big picture.

    All we are saying , is give peace a chance. :-))

    Throwing a little hippie into it ^ because I’m listening to CS&N right now. 🙂


  19. Bernardo Sandoval says:

    Stay the course will lead to more of the same, which is doomed to fail. Rumsfield out is a good start.

    1) Secure the Iraqi borders we dont need our battle hardened military to secure the borders, they are needed in the hot beds of insurgency. Lets bring in retired military personel from US and England along to secure the borders. This will always be an unwinable war unless the borders are secured.

    2) Get additional troops from Arab nations and other countries. If Iraq disintegrates it will have a destabilizing effect on the entire region not to mention the cost of oil sky rocketing. The US needs to have serious conversations with the international community about contributions of troops.

    3) Force the Prime Minister of Iraq to deal with Militias now. The problem the Iraqi government faces is that they are not convinced the US has the will to win. Sunni’s, Shites, and Kurds are battling to stake their ground so that when the US pulls out they are in the best position to control the revenues of Iraqi oil. They must be convinced of US will to win this.

    4) If all the above fails it is over pull out our troops. The US cannot force Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds to have a national identity. If their ethnicity or their religous differences is more important than their nation, lets pull out focus on Afghanistan and then and only then prepare to take out the government of Iran, afterall Iran is a real threat to US national security unlike Iraq.

  20. S. Hanzel says:

    Having served a year in Iraq, I can tell you it’s not really the Iraqi people that are the main problem. The main problem in Iraq is that there are too many U.S. State Department workers in Iraq creating new levels of bureaucracy that dwarf what is seen in this country. And that’s just the liaison offices.

    Second, the Iraqi people are formally informal when it comes to negotiation. A 15 minute meeting can take four hours! This is because every time a cell phone rings, they HAVE to answer it which leads to everyone else pulling out their phone and nothing gets done. Throw in the fact that no one can meet without food and tea at a minimum. Many times it is full meals.

    This attitude makes it difficult for higher level meeting to accomplish much. In order for Iraqi’s to get past this, they need to empower their lower level departments to make decisions. Lower and middle managers have never been taught this mentality because it never existed.

    Third, while it is a great idea to eliminate the Bath party, many good government workers that were loyal to their jobs, not Saddam, have been excluded from any role in the new Iraq. In Saddam’s time, in order to get a decent job, one had to become a member of the party. In an attempt to expel the old regime, many innocents have been lumped in and are not allowed to even teach at universities due to debathification.

    And my final point is that while hundreds of Iraqi police and soldiers are trained every month, none of them have the drive or desire similar to our police and soldiers. There isn’t an economy in Iraq so the best way to support a family is to become a police officer or soldier. Your education level decides which you qualify for, the better educated become police. So basically the economy drives the military and police recruitment.

    Now don’t be fooled by what I’ve said here. The Iraqi people are glad we toppled Saddam. In fact many of the protests in his support were paid for by insurgent leaders attempting to incite riots or other violence. But, they do want us to leave their country, after it is stable. One man who I had the pleasure of speaking with while handing his son a candy bar and stuffed animal said he didn’t hate me; he wanted me to leave when Iraq was strong. He then wished Allah’s blessings upon me and my family.

    Oh, one note about the Kurds: Kurd is an ethnicity or nationality like being American. There are Sunni Kurds and Shi’ite Kurds. The difference between Kurds and the rest of the Iraqi’s is that the Kurds have put the religious diffrence second to being a Kurd. In the same way, Americans are American then Christian or Jew or Muslim. It has been over 1300 years since the split among Muslims, it’s not going to be solved in the next six months.

    To make a long story short (too late…lol) we need to teach the Iraqi’s how to run their government, military, and police. This is difficult because there isn’t much of a military academy to spit out well trained officers which takes a couple years anyway. The same goes with the police. And until the government starts really delegating to the lowest level and starts to practice business with a sense of urgency, no matter what we, the U.S. does, Iraq won’t be viable for at least ten years or more. Heck look what the UN did to Kosovo and Yugoslavia, 10 years later they’re still messed up.

  21. Glyn Burns says:

    We did those animals a solid they didn’t deserve, don’t appreciate………. Matt 5:22 and I will not comment any further.

  22. Glyn, not everybody who posts here is Christian. “J” is not a born-again Christian, so your scriptures fall on deaf ears with him.

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