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Strategy For Dummies?

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2005 8:52 PM

After two years and continued insistence that the White House make clear their strategy for the problems we face in Iraq, the White House released the official National Strategy For Victory in Iraq.

This three-tiered masterwork begins with a Political Track that includes brilliant insights like isolating terrorist/insurgent elements; engaging the populace in the democratic process; and building stable, pluralistic, and effective national institutions.

Ignoring Cindy Sheehan is not the same thing as ignoring Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; we've already been told once that al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden had been marginalized, their funding interrupted ... and yet, here we are again, with the same two names at the top of our Naughty List this Christmas.

Hint: it's bad to qualify what the terrorists say as false propaganda, particularly when they root their work in Islamic scripture. Congratulations, you've just insulted the basis of one of the world's major religions, and done so in an official document. Incidentally, someone needs to explain to Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, or whatever literary scholar that wrote this document that, 'false propaganda' is an oxymoron.

On the Security Track, the strategy calls for clearing enemy-held areas and denying them safe haven; holding those areas for control by the Iraqi government and security forces; and building those security forces and services to promote the rule of law and nurture civil society.

Anyone having flashbacks to 'here, go take that hill' from the Vietnam Era? How many major sweeps have we conducted? And yet, the enemy continues to elude us and operate under our noses.

There's a certain irony in 'promoting the rule of law' in the midst of Republicans falling left and right to scandal and corruption. May I humbly suggest adopting the old Avis Rent-A-Car slogan? Try harder.

And there's a veiled insult again, calling our work the promotion of 'civil society.' As if without us, Iraqis are uneducated savages running around the streets naked. Perhaps in addition to their ethics classes, the folks at the White House need some more time with the history books.

Finally, the Economic Track calls for us to help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure; reform an economy shaped by, 'war, dictatorship, and sanctions;' and build up that self-same infrastructure to rejoin a global economy.

Now, I'm no economist, but weren't we the ones who trashed the infrastructure when we chased all the Ba'athists out?

Folks, this is just in the PowerPoint summary at the front of the document; I can't say I'm impressed, particularly when it includes:

Our mission in Iraq is to win the war. Our troops will return home when that mission is complete.

Or when it contains the same fixation on Iraq as the central front in the war on terror - using quotes from bin Laden and friends that followed President Bush's declaration of Iraq as the centerpiece. That's called circular reasoning.

It contains the same 'consequences of failure' rhetoric, that if we fail in Iraq, we'll be hip deep in terrorists who will then be positioned to launch attacks on America. It ignores that we left off our hunt for Osama, that we continue to ignore elements of the former Taliban that are positioning themselves within the government of Pakistan, and went humping after Saddam.

A bad decision is not made any more effective by dressing it up in slogans or by PowerPointing complex issues.

A bad strategy is one where we did not properly assess the risks, one where we did not properly assess the short- and long-term commitments, and one where we publish major position papers that whine about the consequences of failure.

The "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is sadly lacking, heavy on slogans and catch-phrases, none of which will win a war or rebuild a country. It is thirty-five plus pages of apologetics for the Bush Administration.

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