Monday, October 18, 2004
Quiet George wins the peace
We pulled back from Fallujah in April because there was no Iraqi government or army in place to turn a defeated city over to. Instead of going all-out to kill the enemy, we chose a rope-a-dope strategy that puts the enemy between a rock and a hard place. The Baathist holdouts and the Jihadis can only kill Iraqis, which makes ordinary Iraqis hate them. At the same time, it buys us the time to build up our Iraqi friends. Already the Iraqi army is strong enough that we can start killing the vermin in earnest, and look forward to having Iraqis both in the van (when language skills and Mosque invasions are needed) and in the rear (to take control of the routed areas in our wake).
This rope-a-dope has come at a heavy price. The enemy that we did not kill in April is running Fallujah's car-bomb factories. When Iraqi innocents are killed, ordinary Iraqis are rightly angry not just with the murderers, but with us as well. We took it on ourselves to be the protectors of ordinary Iraqis, but have done less than the maximum to kill their tormentors. But this price is for a reason. It offers the best chance--or at least a good chance, where good chances are hard to find--to win the peace.
The noose will tighten as elections approach. With the terrorist fight becoming ever more explicitly a fight against the expressed will of the Iraqi people, the terrorists will become ever more isolated. In the run up to the elections, all they can succeed in doing is to disenfranchise the rebellious Sunni towns, which no one else in the rest of the country, or in the rest of the world, will give a damn about. After the elections, the terrorists will just be criminals, who we can hunt down to the last man with overwhelming Iraqi support. Iraq will become a killing zone for all the foreign fighters and Baathist holdouts.
If it was up to me, I would have chosen the simpler plan to win the peace, going all out to kill the enemy every day, but the President's plan may offer the best guarantee of success. The elections are the enemy’s death knell, and to the extent that they don't participate, they lose all the worse. They cannot possibly win, and soon must quit or die.
When Kerry played up the Jihadist attacks this summer and used them to charge President bush with not having a plan to win the peace, the President could have explained our strategy--how we made a calculated gamble to let the enemy live today so that we could better win the peace tomorrow, when there is an Iraqi government and army to hand defeated territories over to, but spelling out our calculations would have hurt on the ground. It would have meant telling ordinary Iraqis that a calculation was made to let some of them die now, to avoid larger numbers dying should the peace not be won. By declining to discuss military calculations, President Bush put America's interests above his own partisan interests. This is a constant of George Bush's character.
The SEAL reservist who writes Froggy Ruminations noted the other day that Osama bin Laden is surely dead, but that George Bush never even intimates it, because a silent Al Qaeda leader is less inspiration to the enemy than a dead martyr. If Bush would simply state the obvious--that OBL's bones are rotting in Tora Bora--it would help his election chances here at home, but he places that second to the military value of preserving Al Qaeda's pretense that OBL is still alive.
In contrast, Kerry, Edwards and their henchmen eagerly attack the legitimacy of Iraqi interim president Allawi, calling him a spinner, a liar and a Bush "puppet," because they think it helps their electoral chances. The contrast in character and values could not be more complete. President Bush puts America's interests first no matter what. Kerry puts his partisan interests first, regardless of the cost to America. Now go do the right thing.