19 March 2008

All About That "Responsible Plan For Iraq"

There’s been quite a bit of buzz on the “Responsible Plan for Iraq” which was unveiled at the Take Back America conference, so it definitely deserves an honest look. Democracy Arsenal, Crooks and Liars, and Orcinus have all hailed it as the new paradigm for the troubled country. Also, Abu Aardvark has some pretty thoughtful analysis on what withdrawing US troops would mean for Iraq. While parts of the plan deal specifically with Iraq, most of it is left-wing policymaking on a variety of subjects. Unfortunately, the plan leaves a lot of questions unanswered regarding Iraq specifically, but that’s not to say that the plan doesn’t highlight some significant problems with our foreign and defense policy. While critiquing foreign policy isn’t the purpose of the active duty officer corps, I stopped caring about customs and formalities long ago and here’s my own humble opinion (full PDF is here):

The “Spot on!” portion of the plan

The military is in trouble: Our military capabilities and readiness, however, have been deeply damaged by this war. Both our troops and our military equipment have been seriously depleted. Our forces are stretched so thin that we are unprepared to defend our country.

That’s a fair assessment. This is the result of the previous Secretary of Defense’s idea that a military could use high-tech gizmos and death rays to wage multiple wars on the cheap. Instead of drastically increasing the size of the military following 9/11, a small percentage of the population was expected to do all the heavy lifting. We are now paying the price for this.

More Staties: Our current State Department is not organized to do the diplomatic work required in Iraq, and needs to be retooled. This should be followed by diplomatic efforts towards a coordinated series of simultaneous engagements with the three primary ethnic/religious Iraqi entities and their neighboring counterparts, as well as a major new diplomatic offensive centered on creating a collaborative working group of all nations with direct interest in long-term Iraqi stability.

Absolutely, more diplomatic and non-military tools are necessary to countering instability in Iraq and terrorism worldwide. You can’t bomb your way out of the social and economic problems that allow extremism to grow and fester.

New and Improved GI Bill: Military service as a path up in life is a powerful recruitment tool, but changes over the past several years have eliminated or greatly reduced availability of the educational benefits once associated with serving.

The GI Bill will provide a nation of patriotic young enlisted personnel to transition from military life to members of the elite class. I’ve been working with these guys and gals for 6 years, and America needs more critical thinkers like them and less consumer-driven opportunists. Trust me on this one.

A bit too lefty, but somewhat rational portion of the plan:

Military Presence Creates Problems: The continued presence in Iraq of so-called “residual” forces beyond the minimum needed for standard embassy-protection would be a serious mistake. Any such troops would become a magnet for insurgent attacks and unless they did nothing at all would inevitably become players in Iraq’s domestic political disputes, thus forcing the United States to continue to play referee to Iraq’s civil conflicts.

While no one wants to leave Iraq more than the guy on his fourth tour, the specter of a small group of extremely nefarious elements (Islamic State of Iraq) remains the cause for much of the violence. As seen in the Askari Mosque bombing of 2006, acts of brutality against religious sites can escalate sectarian bloodshed throughout the rest of the fragile country. The humanitarian crisis that this plan alludes to was significantly worsened due to the reprisal killings that were rampant before the surge strategy being implemented. These terrorists cannot be negotiated with and must be eliminated, since they have an irrational ideal of creating a 7th century caliphate throughout modern Mesopotamia by any means necessary (e.g. suicide bombings, beheadings, extortion, etc.) Some US military will be required until the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of defeating and holding off this threat.

The “politicization” of upper echelon officers: Our dependence on private military contractors and the politicization of some of the upper echelons of the military compromise the professionalism which had been a hallmark of our forces.

This is an obvious reference to the far-left MoveOn.org wing still being pissed off that the Petraeus/Crocker September 2007 testimony didn’t jive with their political agenda that violence in Iraq was "escalating out of control". The numbers were based on objective data collected throughout Iraq and could hardly be construed as propaganda. Get over it and update your talking points and netroots memes, please.

Way the fuck out in the stratosphere portion:

More Government Regulation of the media: This legislation would require the FCC to include greater public participation when changing regulations related to broadcast ownership, to do studies on the impact of such rule changes, and to establish an independent panel on increasing the representation of women and minorities in broadcast media ownership.

Anytime the federal government wants to regulate free speech, I am usually inclined to run to the hills and join a survivalist group. You have to wonder about this approach to the dissemination of information that would make Stalin blush.

War Crimes?: We should work with the international community to hold perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable for their crimes. One way this could be done is by working with the United Nations to establish an independent war crimes commission or a special investigator to gather testimonies and investigate war crimes.

You have to wonder who these people are talking about. Saddam and his top genocidal thugs have been rounded up and tried for war crimes in Iraq by the Iraqi judiciary. If these people are talking about BushCheneyCo, it shows they will attack their political opponents using any means necessary. I’m not a fan of the neo-cons either, but to wish “justice” by a War Crimes Tribunal upon our current administration, shows that these people are way out to lunch. Is that why HuffPo commenters (h/t LGF) were hoping Cheney got killed by an IED on his Baghdad trip? I hope the left side isn’t that irrational or it doesn’t say very much about political discourse in America.

Caution: Some Military Force May Be Required in Iraq


Desert Sailor said...

Loved the analysis, good stuff! And as always with the welcomed LT N Rant perspective!

I'd a put the middle two in the last column as well, ie: way the fuck out there!

However, I concur with the spot on parts as well.

That said...associate with MoveOn.org and I gotta say "C Ya!" I'm only interested in logical paths to victory. period.

Good luck, stay safe!

gage said...

Sorry this ain't Navy, swabby, but I thought you might like it anyway. not political, not cynical. But with all the biz over the Marine tossing a puppy, offers another side of the coin, which I think is appropriate for this, the fifth anniversary.

Anyway, see ya at VV.
Stay safe.


gage said...

Hmmm. No link. Can you drag it to your browser window?

LT Nixon said...

Thanks Brad,

I think all of us who are doing time in one way or another just want to see a logical path forward. It's only natural.

Thanks Gage,

I'll take a look at it later this evening since Friday's are my sleep in day and I can stay up late goofing off in my trailer.