Strategic change in Baghdad

NY Times:

The selection of Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus to serve as the senior American commander in Iraq signals an important turn in United States strategy.

As a supporter of increased forces in Iraq, General Petraeus is expected to back a rapid five-brigade expansion, in sharp contrast to his predecessor, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who has been openly skeptical that additional troops would help stabilize the country.

Having overseen the recent drafting of the military’s counterinsurgency manual, General Petraeus is also likely to change the American military operation in Baghdad. American forces can be expected to take up positions in neighborhoods throughout the capital instead of limiting themselves to conducting patrols from large, fortified bases in and around the city.

The overarching goal of the American military operation may be altered as well. Under General Casey, the principal focus has been on transferring security responsibilities to the Iraqi security forces, so American troops could gradually withdraw. Now, the emphasis will shift to protecting the Iraqi population from sectarian strife and insurgent attacks.

Since his appointment was disclosed Thursday, General Petraeus has not spoken publicly about his plans for Iraq. But the doctrine he has advocated suggests that he will want all five of the combat brigades slated to go to Iraq as quickly as possible instead of waiting for them to be phased in.

Before the selection of General Petraeus, there was some doubt about whether the top Iraq commander would be an enthusiastic executor of the new strategy President Bush is preparing to unveil next week — one that could send as many of 20,000 new troops to Baghdad. Now, the White House will have an articulate officer to champion and shape that strategy, an important asset for an administration that has decided to buck the tide of public opinion by deepening the American military involvement in Iraq.

To many civilians, the military seems monolithic. But in fact, there has been a lively debate behind the scenes about the best way to achieve the United States’ objectives in Iraq — or at least to preserve a measure of stability as sectarian passions threaten to engulf the country.


The United States has sought to apply the basic lessons of counterinsurgency operations in Baghdad before — most notably during Operation Together Forward II, the second phase of an effort begun over the summer to reduce violence in Baghdad.

But that effort foundered when the United States and Iraqi authorities failed to marshal sufficient forces to hold neighborhoods after they were cleared of insurgents and militias, and when the Iraqis failed to follow through with the job and reconstruction programs that were intended to win over Iraqi citizens.


This failure to have a sufficient force to space ratio has been a continuing problem in Iraq since the end of major combat operations. The Democrats are eagerly showing their ignorance of the problem by opposing an adequate force to space ratio, while at the same time fearing the call for retreat they really want to make. Their objections are not the same as Abizaids.

The Democrats are desperate for defeat in Iraq, but they do not want to take responsibility for the defeat they seek. So now while criticizing a "stay the course" strategy have turned around and embraced it. Of course, they just want to stay the course for a few months before their route to defeat is implemented.

The Democrats have engaged in a indirect criticism of the military for most of the war by attacking Abizaid's strategy by wrapping it in their criticism of the President. Now that a different military strategy is being pushed they are doing everything they can to undercut it and the military. One of the reasons they are so eager for defeat is that they did not want to liberate Iraq to begin with, even though they voted for the Iraqi liberation act while Clinton was still President.

They really did not mean then and they especially did not mean it after Bush was elected. They viewed that act as part of their strategy of bluffing Saddam. Much of the UN also embraced the bluff strategy, and the bluffers are invested now in the defeat of the US in Iraq. That is what their opposition is really about. Never ever assume good faith on the part of Democrats who oppose the war effort.

The Strata-Sphere calls this the Democrats contract with al Qaeda. Has there ever been a more incoherent strategy by a political party in the US? They opposed liberating Iraq because they want to focus on Iraq and when Iraq accommodate by sending its forces into Iraq, the democrats want to cut and run. Never trust Democrats with national security. Never.

Don't miss Jules Crittenden's critique of the Democrat's "give up now" letter. "You know the old saying. If at first you don't succeed, quit." That is the modern Democrat party.

Update: With their letter to the President, Pelosi and Reid have officially become the McNamara's of the war in Iraq, substituting their unqualified opinions for the opinions of the military commander chosen by the President. They are trying to starve the war effort of troops for political reasons that have nothing to do with winning and everything to do with their own desperation for defeat in Iraq. By doing so they are making Iraq their war to lose.


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