Hopelessness in Washington
...Too many believe that all those things Peters wants to strip away are critical to fighting and winning the war. There is a case to be made that attempting to put those things in place before the war is over is a mistake, but withdrawing them now would also look like defeat. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the enemy has been defeated in all but two main areas in Iraq. In Anbar where the enemy remains strong, he has lost the sheiks who are actively helping the US now. In Baghdad, roughly half the violence is retribution against the enemy, by Shia militia covertly supporting the Shia government. A surge that reduced the Sunni insurgents in Baghdad would also do away with a reason for the militia action. One thing we should do to co-op the militias is find a way to get actionable intelligence from them to use against the Sunni/Baathist.
Is Iraq hopeless? No. But the path to a positive outcome doesn't follow the traditional wisdom about what's "doable." We must think clearly and boldly, without regard to vested interests.
One thing's clear: If we can't enforce security, nothing else matters. So the wisest course of action seems obvious - except to the Washington establishment: Return to a wartime footing.
Focus exclusively on security. Concentrate on doing one thing well. Freeze all reconstruction and aid projects. Halt every program and close every office that doesn't contribute directly to pacifying Iraq.
Empty the Green Zone. Pack off the contractors. Reduce the military's overhead to those elements essential to support combat operations. Make it clear to "our" Iraqis that it's sink-or-swim time. Remove our advisers from any Iraqi unit that can operate marginally without them (and let the Iraqis do security their way without interference).
Above all, establish unity of command: Stop pretending there's a fully functional government in Baghdad, recall our ambassador until the fighting's over and make this a purely military effort until Iraq has been pacified.
Shedding extraneous programs would allow us to withdraw some military elements, increase the impact of combat units already in Iraq and use any additional forces more efficiently.
By attempting to do far too much, we diffused our capabilities. Program after program faltered. We need to return to the principle of concentration of effort.
We tried to refashion a country and rebuild its infrastructure before we made it secure. The result has been the waste of American lives, four years and billions of taxpayer dollars.
Defying the power of inertia - a tremendous force in Washington - we need to grasp that throwing good money after bad undercuts our last, slight hope of a win.
We need an exclusive focus on the defeat of the foreign terrorists, uncooperative Sunni Arabs and Muqtada al-Sadr's Shia thugs. Our enemies control Iraq with fear. We need to make them fear us more than the population fears them.
And we must stop reciting insupportable platitudes about every element of government playing a role and the supreme power of negotiations. That's just nonsense. Contrary to pundit blustering, the overwhelming majority of insurgencies over the past 3,000 years have been defeated - by uncompromising military responses.