January 22, 2007
WAR: Surging Forward
I can't really disagree with Instapundit's view of the "surge". The key points:
+"I don't think the number of troops is nearly as important as what we're doing with them"
+"There's room for optimism that we're going to take a more aggressive line against insurgents in Iraq, and against Muqtada Al-Sadr in particular. There's also some reason to think we're putting the screws to Iran."
+"I've been disappointed a number of times by the Bush Administration's inexplicable unwillingness to deal with Iran's fomenting of insurgency -- it's really a proxy war . . . "
+"You win a war by making it too unpleasant for the other guy to keep fighting."
+"Bush's loss of support on the war stems from the loss of visible forward motion. The casualties per se aren't the problem (we've lost fewer troops in nearly four years than we were expected to lose in the initial push to Baghdad), so much as the sense that we're taking casualties and nothing is happening."
Read the whole thing. I think as much as anything the key point is that we need to find ways to raise the cost to Iran of continuing to meddle in Iraq. As I have stressed repeatedly before, our main mission in Iraq since we succeeded in the original mission (i.e., toppling Saddam's regime) has been to protect Iraq's nascent democracy from outside interference. The Iraqis are responsible in the end for handling their own internal problems, but where the U.S. is still needed is in preventing hostile external powers and movements from strangling Iraqi democracy in its cradle. And that includes internal movements like al-Sadr's that are substantially backed and armed by the Iranians.
Meanwhile, kudos to Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, for rejecting the idea that Iran and Syria could be persuded to have anything like a positive influence in Iraq in hearings on the Iraq Study Group's fatuous recommendation of negotiations with those two parties to stop doing things they won't admit doing in the first place. Lantos, whatever else may be said of him, is one Democrat who has always understood tyranny.
It is pretty simple what Iran is doing and to a lesser extent Syria. They have moved their proxy war with America from Southern Lebanon and Northern Israel to Iraq. They are basically using various factions in Iraq to fight America. This alliance can not stand the test of time based on the fact that Sunnis, Shias, Kurds and Persians have a deep rooted distrust of each other.
You have to ask the question how do you stop a country from engaging in a proxy war against another country? All we have to do is how do the cease fires happen between Israel and Hezbollah? Do not be shocked by the truth of the answer, back room negotiations usually broker by of all countries the United States. as long as Iran has a limitless cash supply (oil) they will be able to pacify the masses in their country by painting America as the enemy. We have no choice but to negotiate because what other leverage do we as a country have. An attack on Iran is not a option, you can't fight a war on two fronts. History has proven that to be true.
The US has fought wars on multiple fronts before (Japan & Germany, for example). It's Iran that would face multiple fronts - we have troops on both their borders (Iraq & Afghanistan), plus they need to keep resupplying Hezbollah in Lebanon.
None of which is to say we should be rushing into full-scale war with Iran, but we certainly have the military capability to take them on.
This is very much a different two front scenario. In WWII, the supply line issue was as difficult for Japan as it was for us. And in Europe, once we cleared the Atlantic, we could have major supply stations in Western Europe. Of course, Iran, facing a multiple front scenario, including one where we hold the Persian Gulf, is difficult for them as well. They have the oil, but not the refineries. Do they have the food.
In the end, both sides really have to prepare for a war, yet find reasons to not fight. And proxy wars is what superpowers do. France did it with us in the 1770's for example.
Also, WWII included an enormous shift in industrial capacity that we may not have now. Plus we had an enormous percentage of the population in uniform, and just as large a percentage on the home front, engaged in materiel duties. The only way we could get the entire country to agree to do that would be an attack directly by Iran--now I don't disagree they did that in 1979, and the response then was what helped set us on the course we are in today--but it would have to be recent. I can't see the mullahs being that stupid, unless they were backed into a corner by their own growingly dissatisfied populace. Teddy was right, as he usually was. Speak softly but carry a big stick.