U.S. "A MILITARY COLOSSUS AND A DIPLOMATIC MIDGET"
National Journal paints the bleakest possible picture of our options in Iraq. Various war games and analyses cited in the article have concluded that our options are few, our resources dwindling, our military severely compromised, and both Iraqis and Americans have decided we've "had enough."
The existential dangers for so many of those involved point to another sobering truth: Iraq may have started as a war of choice for the Bush administration, but it has become a war of great and unintended consequences. Immense risks lurk down every strategic road. Given the fractured state of the American body politic, it is almost certainly too late to rally the country behind an all-out war effort -- think tax increases; a war Cabinet; a full mobilization of the National Guard and the Reserves; a civilian reconstruction corps; a larger Army and Marine Corps; longer combat tours for troops; mandatory combat-zone deployments for U.S. diplomats and aid officials; a return to national service; and possibly even a limited draft.
Yet absent a plan that puts the nation on either an all-out wartime footing or the firm path to retreat, the United States is largely condemned to some tweaked-around-the-edges variation of the administration's current approach on Iraq of "muddle through and hand over." And America, the experts agree, is already losing that war.
According to several attendees, the experts' presentations to the dean of the Republican foreign-policy establishment were unremittingly negative on the outlook for the Bush administration's effort to plant the flag of democracy in Iraq.
"There must have been 25 experts in that room from every part of the political spectrum, and I was absolutely struck by how the overwhelming consensus was that things are very bad and getting worse in Iraq," said one participant, a description that was confirmed by others.
Though the Iraq Study Group chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker has pledged to look forward only and not back to the mistakes made in the runup to the war and during the war itself, someone has to. We've got to face, and inform the voting public, the fact that our national security has been compromised by a foreign policy that can't be supported by our institutions. We need smarter analysis, planning and decision-making, which we won't get with this administration or that of any other like-minded Republican.
"The big problem is that the United States today is a military colossus and a diplomatic midget, and that has made for a very unbalanced national security policy," said Joseph Collins, a professor at the National Defense University who was deputy assistant secretary of Defense for stability operations. "The State Department and U.S. AID are only shadows of what they need to be if we're going to conduct this kind of nation building, but Congress just refuses to fund those activities. That leaves a lot of overstressed soldiers in Iraq doing tasks they're not trained for."
Kenneth Pollock, who was one of those most loudly beating the drum for the invasion of Iraq, says he's losing sleep now over the situation in Iraq. He briefed the administration in February "on the need to secure the Iraqi capital and to win the support of its citizens with rapidly reconstituted government services." Their attitude took him aback:
"They insisted that I was exaggerating the problem of the militias and that the new Iraqi government would just make the insurgency go away. Frankly, I was stunned by their attitude," Pollack said. "So we have passed another seven months of missed opportunities, during which Iraq's problems have all gotten worse. My real fear is that we've already passed the make-or-break point and just don't realize it. Historians in five or 10 years may look back and say 2006 was the year we lost Iraq. That's my nightmare."
Pollock's warnings just didn't fit with their "faith-based" assessment.
In her interview tonight on Sixty Minutes, Nancy Pelosi flatly took impeachment off the table if she becomes Speaker, and to be honest I pretty much agree with her -- we don't have time for it. But something more than a change in Congressional majority has to happen to force the hand of the president, to stop or reverse the course of our foreign policy. Even if Dems take both the House and the Senate, our margins are likely to be small, and the president will still have control of the military and foreign policy.
What that something is, I just don't know.
Tags: Iraq war