Regrettably, the Iraq Study Group failed to offer, by its own admission, any big new breakthrough ideas or “magic formulas” for turning the tide in Iraq before the make or break 2008 election. Nor does the President’s latest strategy pronouncement which offers far too little, too late. It will accomplish nothing but reaffirm to the enemy that the Great Satan is all bark and no bite. Nevertheless Iraq can still be saved with a bold new strategy that finally recognizes Iraq is the absolutely must-win first round in an undeclared war with Iran for control of all Persian Gulf oil — 40% of the world’s present supply and 65% of its reserves. The outcome ultimately could also determine the fate of Israel and the future likelihood of a catastrophic WMD attack on our homeland.
With the stakes so high, the situation in Iraq so desperate and the time to produce results so short, we cannot afford to gamble on whether the Iraqis shape up or our enemies see the light. We must take full charge of the war and do whatever necessary to ensure victory – no matter the cost and before it’s too late.
First and foremost we must do the one thing that can still soon begin to change the dynamics on the ground dramatically in our favor and help compensate for our inability to quickly field very substantially increased numbers of reliable, properly trained Coalition forces: Starting in Baghdad and other hot spots, draft all Iraqi males of combat age, except in the Kurdish-controlled north, and essentially run the country ourselves until order and stability are restored. Before totally taking over we might give Maliki 90 days to quell the violence or get out of the way. To expect serious cooperation from a dysfunctional government beholden to powerful factions within it who are diametrically opposed to our own goals is wishful thinking.
Absent a draft, it would likely take at least 1.0 million additional troops to defeat the enemy. The draft would drain much of the insurgents’ and militias’ large manpower pool and deny them the ability to freely circulate. Most are not ideologues and it’s far cheaper to hire them than to fight them. Also key is securing the cooperation of many influential sheiks and tribal leaders with performance based rewards. Additionally:
- Demand the Iranians and Syrians stop aiding insurgents and militias or suffer devastating consequences.
- Recruit and train at least 500,000 troops from outside Iraq — offering U.S. citizenship to fill the ranks, making us less reliant on Iraqi security forces. Because success in Iraq is crucial to winning the War on Terror, it’s foolhardy to allow their performance to determine the outcome of our mission — a widely held notion we must disabuse ourselves of.
An “International Freedom Force” would minimize U.S. casualties and is the only way the American public will accept our ongoing heavy involvement in Iraq and other War on Terror battlefields.
- Redeploy many U.S. troops from violent zones to both secure the borders and embed with Iraqi units. Pump more money into better equipping them and restoring basic services.
- Put U.S. on a war footing at home, for we are in a life and death struggle for our survival as a superpower.
Above all, we can no longer afford to grossly underestimate the enormity of the task ahead. Given the self-defeating constraints we have imposed on ourselves, our enemies can sustain the conflict at its current or higher level indefinitely. At best we are continuing to fight a holding action with no hope of victory and ultimate failure guaranteed.
We have one more chance to get it right in Iraq before Congress and the American people lower the boom. It’s too late for any more half-way measures. A temporary, nominal surge in U.S. forces to secure Baghdad will, by itself, achieve nothing of lasting value and by its failure further convince the skeptics that Iraq is a lost cause. Then the radicals’ tactics of terror, civil war and anarchy will not only force us out of Iraq, but set the pattern for their attempted takeover of the rest of the Middle East.
The overriding argument for succeeding in Iraq is that it will be vastly more difficult if not impossible to achieve regime change in Iran without our controlling Iraq. And without regime change in Iran it becomes highly questionable if we can win the War on Terror and prevent a massive WMD attack unless we ourselves resort, in desperation, to a knock-out nuclear attack on Iran.
Let us hope that it doesn’t have to take a major WMD attack to wake up America. The WMD clock is ticking. Victory in what is fast becoming World War III will require the kind of will, commitment, sacrifice and leadership that we have not demonstrated since World War II. Our forefathers risked their careers, their fortunes and their very lives to win freedom and independence. Will we “bear any burden and pay any price” to preserve our own?