Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Newt, Pre-empting the Iraqi Study Group

link - Newt takes up the Iraqi Study Group

1. Does the Commission Have a Vision for Success in the Larger War Against the Dictatorships and Fanatics Who Want to Destroy Us?

I think that few are left who do not realize that there is a larger struggle for legitimacy, or as Tony Blair has put it, "Whose values will lead into the 21st Century", but not many agree on what the implications of that are for tactics, duration, resourcing, involvement.

I would bet dollars that the Study Group will have recommendations on how to confront radical ideologies within Islam. However, they may end up too vague, like "adopt a comprehensive approach" or "adopt long-term strategies".

2. Does the Commission Recognize That the Second Campaign in Iraq Has Been a Failure?

Their staff may not be able to agree why it has been a defeat, even more so without a classified clearance, so it may not be productive to declare a defeat.

3. 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? 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 seems unlikely that there will not be a battery of bureaucratic recommendations and changes to institutionalization, many including taking the military out of the 'lead', if Newt is ready for that ...

4. Does the Commission Describe the Consequences of Defeat in Iraq?
What would the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq look like?

The larger military question is whether so much matters. In a purest sense, there are no such thing as 'unacceptable consequences' - war is Hell. When you go to "war", you accept even the unintended consequences, the Pandora's box that it opens, yes?

All quagmires are political, not military. As such, the Iraqi campaign is on borrowed time, by many metrics.

5. Does the Commission Understand the Importance of Victory? Winning is key. Time is on the side of those seeking nuclear and biological weapons to use against the civilized world.

Yet, time is exactly what is required for the scale of transformation that is necessitated.

"Victory" is misstatement or a poor choice of words. The near-term goals are containment, the mid-term goals are pressure, and the long-term goals are attenuation. The more one thinks in terms of a decisive "victory" the LESS likely it becomes.

6. Does the Commission Define What It Means to Win, or Simply Find a Face-Saving Way to Lose? Winning is very definable. Can we protect our friends and hurt our enemies?

It seems contradictory to suggest that the second campaign was a defeat but to suggest that a third is possible to "win".

It would not be reasonable to calibrate goals beyond what the facts on the ground make possible.

What's more, it seems to me more robust to come up with a perspective in which all outcomes are covered by a set of goal statements, recognizing that a significant portion of the outcome is not in the control of the U.S., either in the hands of an Iraqi government or others.

7. Does the Commission Acknowledge That Winning Requires Thinking Regionally and Even Globally?


Well, Saudi Arabia is spending millions on a medium-term (3+year) project to seal its border electronically with Iraq.

Newt sounds like he is looking for military escalation here, with "direct confrontation" of Syria and Iran. Of course, if he means "Karine-A" type evidence, then he ought to say so. That kind of evidence could be used quite successfully in non-military ways.

8. Any Proposal to Ask Iran and Syria to Help Is a Sign of Defeat. Does the Commission Suggest This? Iran and Syria are the wolves in the region.

Any proposal? Even "enemies" can cooperate to prevent the plug from being pulled on them both ...

9. Does the Commission Believe We Can 'Do a Deal' With Iran? The clear effort by the Iranians to acquire nuclear weapons and Ahmadinejad's assertion that it is easy to imagine a time in the near future when the United States and Israel have both disappeared should be adequate proof that the Iranian dictatorship is the active enemy of America. Couple that with the fact that the Iranians lied to the International Atomic Energy Agency for 18 years while trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Either this is a dangerous regime we need to fundamentally change, or it is a reasonable regime with which we can deal.

Too much either/or thinking, here. Besides, what nation lives 'without enemies' in modern times?

Nuclear proliferation has to be put on a separate plate than other issues, and cannot be, as Newt suggests, a matter of 'friends and enemies', at least among nation-states.

The rest of the issues with Iran are more nettlesome and what are the options to doing deals or making agreements, really?

10. Does the Commission Believe We Are More Clever Than Our Enemies?
The al-Assad family has run Syria since 1971.

Well, Syria is needed for a settlement of the I/P issue, one way or the other ...

11. Does the Commission Recognize the Importance of Working With the Democratic Majorities on a Strategy for Victory? The Democratic victory in the 2006 election should not be used as an excuse to do the wrong thing. The Democrats are now confronting the responsibility and burden of power. Opposition to continuing the failed second campaign should not be translated into opposition to an American victory.

The burden of power? The burden of prior mistakes ...

The issue of a third-campaign is whether it meets its burden of proof, empirically, not ideologically. And that's how it ought to be.

No comments: