it’s hard to buy the argument, if it is made, that iran and syria’s involvement will actually further the interests of the united states rather than their own interests. let’s not forget that iran is part of the problem. neither country is interested in a stable iraq as the united states would define it. syria isn’t even interested in a stable, independent lebanon. we need to evaluate the ISG’s proposals with that in mind.
newt gingrich has a few tests for the baker/hamilton commission here. this is an excerpt from his human events column along with his comments on each question.
Does the Commission Have a Vision for Success in the Larger War Against the Dictatorships and Fanatics Who Want to Destroy Us?
If Iraq were only a one-step process, the answer might be to leave. But the reality is that Iraq is a single campaign within a much bigger war and within a power struggle over both the evolution of Islam and the rise of dictatorships seeking nuclear and biological weapons to enable them to destroy America and her allies. If the Baker-Hamilton Commission does not take this into account, it is a dangerously misleading report.
Does the Commission Recognize That the Second Campaign in Iraq Has Been a Failure?
This is the hardest thing for Washington-centric bureaucracies to accept. There was a very successful 23-day campaign to drive Saddam out of power. It used America’s strengths, and it worked. The second campaign has been an abject failure. We and our Iraqi allies do not have control of Iraq. We cannot guarantee security. There is not enough economic activity to keep young males employed. If the Baker-Hamilton Commission cannot bring itself to recognize a defeat as a defeat, then it cannot recommend the scale of change that is needed to develop a potentially successful third campaign.
Does the Commission Recognize the Scale of Change We Will Need to Adopt to Be Effective in a World of Enemies Willing to Kill Themselves in Order to Kill Us?
We need fundamental change in our military doctrine, training and structures, our intelligence capabilities and our integration of civilian and military activities. The instruments of American power simply do not work at the speed and detail needed to defeat the kind of enemies we are encountering. The American bureaucracies would rather claim the problem is too hard and leave, because being forced to change this deeply will be very painful and very controversial. Yet we have to learn to win.
Learning to win requires much more than changes in the military. It requires changes in how our intelligence, diplomatic, information and economic institutions work. It requires the development of an integrated approach in which all aspects of American power can be brought to bear to achieve victory. Furthermore, this strategy for victory has to be doubly powerful. For three years, we have failed to build an effective Iraqi government, and we now have a shattered local system with many players using violence in desperate bids to maximize their positions. The plan has to be powerful enough to succeed despite Iraqi weaknesses and not by relying on a clearly uncertain and unstable Iraqi political system.
Does the Commission Describe the Consequences of Defeat in Iraq?
What would the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq look like? Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute recently offered this chilling picture:
“The pullback of U.S. forces to their bases will not reduce the sectarian conflict, which their presence did not generate — it will increase it. Death squads on both sides will become more active. Large-scale ethnic and sectarian cleansing will begin as each side attempts to establish homogeneous enclaves where there are now mixed communities. Atrocities will mount, as they always do in ethnic cleansing operations. Iraqis who have cooperated with the Americans will be targeted by radicals on both sides. Some of them will try to flee with the American units. American troops will watch helplessly as death squads execute women and children. Pictures of this will play constantly on Al Jazeera. Prominent ‘collaborators,’ with whom our soldiers and leaders worked, will be publicly executed. Crowds of refugees could overwhelm not merely Iraq’s neighbors but also the [Forward Operating Bases] themselves. Soldiers will have to hold off fearful, tearful, and dangerous mobs.”
read more of newt’s column.
any commission charged with fixing iraq must understand all the implications of bringing in partners we cannot trust. these are some serious questions that need serious answers before we can implement any of the recommendations made by the baker/hamilton commission.
it’s smart to be talking about foreign policy if you want to win the white house. the next president will have to deal with a dangerous world, and we need to have confidence that this person knows how to confront those challenges. newt gingrich may not be any sort of front-runner for the ’08 republican nomination for president, but he is the only one who is talking in depth about foreign policy. we need to see more of this from the other contenders.