Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fight to Win

In all the debates over Iraq, a simple proposition has not been asked – what will it take to win? Winning has not been well-defined, but a good outcome would be a decent, democratic Iraq at peace with itself and able to protect itself from its predatory neighbors, specifically Iran, Syria, and to a degree, Saudi Arabia.

One key prerequisite of that include control of Iraq’s borders. For almost 4 years, no serious effort to do that has been done. The easy riposte is if America cannot control its own border with Mexico, how can it control Iraq’s borders with its 6 neighbors? Manpower is essential, and it is doubtful that the US military has the available boots to accomplish such a task. Today's WAPO piece is the first credible proposal but this will likely stretch the military.

Here’s an odd but potentially viable approach: invite Iraq’s neighbors to police the border with their opposite numbers, i.e., Iran can contribute to border patrol on Iraq’s southwest sector with Saudi Arabia, the Saudis and Jordanians can patrol Iraq’s northeastern border with Iran and Turkey, the Turks can monitor the southeast borders with Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, and the Americans with their coalition allies can concentrate on the border with Syria where the ratlines to the God-forsaken Al-anbar province originate. The Americans would also concentrate on securing Baghdad and keeping the Turks and Kurds out each other’s hair. With this scenario, each of the participants is incentivized to do their job – to prevent infiltration into the chessboard of Iraq.

Longer-term, the need to expand our military looms. Our power projection capabilities have decayed and degraded, and a doubled or tripled force is probably required to restore enough deterrent capability against the rogues’gallery that confronts us and in some way which is being fronted by China and possibly Russia behind the scenes. The draft is talked about but there are serious arguments against conscription. Yet the pure volunteer approach is likely inadequate, and the foreign legion approach to recruiting Mexicans to fight our wars in exchange for citizenship has its downsides as well.

Here’s a blended idea that just might work: a national service program of 2-3 years for all 18 or 22 year olds, with the options to choose which underserved areas to work in – teaching, nursing, alternative energy development, and of course foreign intelligence & the military. The government could then adjust various incentives (1 or 2 years of college or other higher education benefits per year of service, long-term health insurance or tax credits) to meet the needs of the health, education, energy security, foreign intel, and the military while still leaving it to individual choice to who actually joins up the various services. This at a stroke would contribute to binding together the various strata of America’s social fabric, address pressing needs of our nation, and provide the manpower needed for our military.

Energy security is another central element to fighting to win. Only about 15% of our oil comes from the Middle East. It is true that over ½ of our oil is imported, but much of that is from friendly neighbors like Canada and Mexico. But the navy is providing a free service to everyone by protecting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Malacca Straits. We really should stop shouldering all these burdens everywhere on our own. To this end, the federation of democracies which I hope one day will be picked up as a great idea by someone important, would be a great entrée.

True bipartisanship in this instance would mean adopting the Miller Lite commercial: let’s do both! Let’s raise fuel efficiency standards and nuclear power investment; let’s drill in ANWR, offshore, and wherever else (cleanly as possible) and pursue a campaign for conservation thru carbon taxes and incentives for efficiency. Let’s invest in renewable energy research (and I mean a trillion dollars, not a billion dollars) and recruit friendly nations in Africa and South America to our side and away from China.


At 3:30 PM, Blogger USpace said...

Great points made, well done!

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
don't fight wars to win

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how bout containment.
that seemed to be working pretty well in the case of Saddam's iraq all the way up to the US overthrow.

in fact, though ya never hear this, The Bush Administrations invasion of Iraq and topple of Saddam seemed to prove that the containment and sanctions and no fly zones of 90's WORKED!!

we went in there and CONFIRMED THAT!
no weapons of mass destruction were found!
just a shell of a regime and
a dictator found hiding in a rat hole.

i don't expect the administration to come out tomorrow and announce that Iraq was a big mistake, but atleast it proved that the containment policies of folks like saddam work. But that is indeed the message of the whole debacle.

In the 90's we finally did something NOT STUPID foreign policy wise in containing saddam and it worked!

the invasion of iraq was rock solid proof of it.
let's learn from out mistakes...and then do the things that actually work.

Winning has not been well-defined

understatement of the century!
actually the problem is that winning has been defined, and then redefined, and then defined again, and then redifened again, and then redefined, and then defined again and on and on...

even after Mission Accomplished was declared!

Mission accomplished has turned into Mission Impossible.

precisely because we are never being told the truth about why we are there, and hence we are not told what winning is.

first, we were their because Saddam had something to do with 911, then we were there because Saddam and Al Queda were buddies and about to explode nukes (wmds) in america, then when were there because saddam was a bad person and we wanted to free the iraqi people, then it changed to we wanted to spread democracy in the middle east so we started with iraq.

Now, it's simply, 'we can't leave now, things'll get worse!'.

C'MON! it doesn't take a genius to see the lying, hedging, and flying by the seat of your pants.

Iran isn't going to cooperate with some border policing plan, unless it's policing the border of their newly conquered Iraq.

best thing we can do is regroup and call this one a loss. for now.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger dog said...


I love you, I read everything you wrote.



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