December 19, 2007
-- by Dave Johnson
Things are a bit better in Iraq because of a strategy shift. Note that better means not worse - which is good but still is not sustainable. Better doesn't mean that we are on a road to resolving this, just on a road to going on forever and going broke and degrading our military. We still have to get out. We can't have a huge "surge"of troops there forever, and things are not getting better enough. I acknowledge the reality that things stopped getting worse. Now the Republicans need to recognize the reality that there is no military solution.
Anyway, the story of how the strategy shift occurred is interesting.
But a USA TODAY investigation shows that the strategy now used to defeat the bombmaking networks and stabilize Iraq was ignored or rejected for years by key decision-makers. As early as 2004, when roadside bombs already were killing scores of troops, a top military consultant invited to address two dozen generals offered a "strategic alternative" for beating the insurgency and IEDs.
That plan and others mirroring the counterinsurgency blueprint that the Pentagon now hails as a success were pitched repeatedly in memos and presentations during the following two years, at meetings that included then-Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
The core of the strategy: Clear insurgents from key areas and provide security to win over Iraqis, who would respond by helping U.S. forces break IED networks and defeat the insurgency.
Bush administration officials, however, remained wedded to the idea that training the Iraqi army and leaving the country would suffice. Officials, including Cheney, insisted the insurgency was dying. Those pronouncements delayed the Pentagon from embracing new plans to stop IEDs and investing in better armored vehicles that allow troops to patrol more freely, documents and interviews show.
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