Don't let the title fool you. It may as well have been called "Why we are not winning in Iraq."
It's lengthy but excellent. The author has the best of credentials. The publication is as respectable as they come.
ANDREW F. KREPINEVICH, JR., is Executive Director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University. He is the author of The Army and Vietnam. LINK to the article.
Since 1922, the Council has published Foreign Affairs, America's most influential publication on international affairs and foreign policy. It is more than a magazine—it is the international forum of choice for the most important new ideas, analysis, and debate on the most significant issues in the world. Inevitably, articles published in Foreign Affairs shape the political dialogue for months and years to come. LINK
Instead of a timetable for withdrawal, the United States needs a real strategy built around the principles of counterinsurgency warfare. To date, U.S. forces in Iraq have largely concentrated their efforts on hunting down and killing insurgents. The idea of such operations is to erode the enemy's strength by killing fighters more quickly than replacements can be recruited. Although it is too early to tell for sure whether this approach will ultimately bring success, its current record is not good: even when an attack manages to inflict serious insurgent casualties, there is little or no enduring improvement in security once U.S. forces withdraw from the area.
This is one of the best outlines for success that I have read, and as readers of this blog know I don't see a lot of military writing I like. Despite the snip above, the overall tenor is one of optimism. Unfortunately, I see several problems. Anything we do now may be too little, too late, and by the author's estimate it would be a decade or longer to be successful. Moreover, it would require the administration to embrace a strategy so alien to its current direction that half the military command, not to mention the core support elements of the civilian world, would see it as betrayal. The political will essential to success simply does not exist nor could it be formed around this proposal.
The ideas are sound. The writer's "oil-spot strategy" (not that oil, just oil in general) would begin by establishing small but secure safe zones all over Iraq that would in time spread (as does an oil spot on fabric) until most of the country would be safe from the blackmail of insurgent violence. It's an excellent idea.
That's too bad.
David Brooks likes it. [Instead of trying to kill insurgents, Krepinevich argues, it's more important to protect civilians. You set up safe havens where you can establish good security. Because you don't have enough manpower to do this everywhere at once, you select a few key cities and take control. Then you slowly expand the size of your safe havens, like an oil spot spreading across the pavement....the strategy has one virtue. It might work.]
So does Cernig, who is trembling because he finds himself in agreement with Brooks!
And so do I. But hey, who asked me?