Friday, August 26, 2005

Wes Clark: What Should Be Done on Iraq

As public support for Bush's war continues to erode, the question of "Now what?" becomes more important. Should we pull our troops out ASAP or are we stuck? Wes Clark offers his analysis today in the Washington Post. He points out three specific failings of our current strategy that must be corrected if we are to avoid failure in Iraq:
From the outset of the U.S. post-invasion efforts, we needed a three-pronged strategy: diplomatic, political and military. Iraq sits geographically on the fault line between Shiite and Sunni Islam; for the mission to succeed we will have to be the catalyst for regional cooperation, not regional conflict.
Unfortunately, the administration didn't see the need for a diplomatic track, and its scattershot diplomacy in the region -- threats, grandiose pronouncements and truncated communications -- has been ill-advised and counterproductive. The U.S. diplomatic failure has magnified the difficulties facing the political and military elements of strategy by contributing to the increasing infiltration of jihadists and the surprising resiliency of the insurgency.
...
With each passing month the difficulties are compounded and the chances for a successful outcome are reduced. Urgent modification of the strategy is required before it is too late to do anything other than simply withdraw our forces.
Armando over at Kos offers a good paragraph by paragraph critique of Gen. Clark's oped:
Ahhh. So the onus is on Bush. If he does not do what Clark (and other Dems hopefully) say, then Bush will lose Iraq and be forced to cut and run. Excellent. This, in my opinion, should have been the lead paragraph. In fact, he should have junked the lead paragraph. The column should have been that Bush has placed us on the brink in Iraq leaving us this close from having no options but to withdraw.
Clark's concluding paragraph:
The growing chorus of voices demanding a pullout should seriously alarm the Bush administration, because President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam: failing to craft a realistic and effective policy and instead simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve isn't enough to mend a flawed approach -- or to save the lives of our troops. If the administration won't adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that it bring our troops home.
Armando thinks Clark should have opened with his conclusion:
There you go General. Bush is losing Iraq and will lose Iraq and have to "cut and run" unless he adopts our winning proposals (which he of course will never do).
Ok. I am sold. Lose the first paragraph, and we can adopt this as our Democratic manifesto on Iraq now. That would be good politics and can lead to good policy after we win the 2006 elections.

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