Kick Ass First

Why isn’t Ralph Peters running the war in Iraq?

He writes:

…Radical surgery on our approach is the patient’s only hope – but the policy doctors in D.C. just want to up the medication.

Washington may be the unofficial capital of the world, but it’s a town that thinks small. The real-and-present danger is that a desperate administration and a nervous new Congress won’t imagine genuine alternatives to losing slowly or leaving.

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).

… 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.

…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.

…As for negotiations offering the only way forward, where in the Middle East have negotiations ever produced enduring peace? All the media drooling over an expected American retreat has left all of Iraq’s opposing factions calculating how they can win after we’re gone.

You can’t hold successful negotiations with irreconcilable, unbroken factions who have no incentive to compromise. And even when you cajole promises from one group or another in the Middle East, no party feels bound to honor its commitments.

You can only drive negotiations from a position of uncontested strength – which we threw away.

Our enemies don’t believe we have the guts to pacify Iraq. They may be right.

It would be obscene to deploy more troops and further strain our military unless we’re serious about winning. And all half-measures will fail.

The paradox is that beleaguered Iraqis would welcome a harsh security crackdown – our toughest obstacle would be a global media alliance already patting itself on the back for our defeat.

Of course, if we make security our sole focus, the Daddy Warbucks profiteers will howl to the congressmen they’ve bought; our self-adoring diplomats will spew more of their poisonous jealousy into the Potomac – and those military commanders who’ve lost focus will argue that bribing Iraqis with reconstruction efforts is essential to pacification.

…we may be certain of this: Democracy can’t exist without security. All of our other ambitions for Iraq are hopeless if men and women can’t walk the streets without fear. Whether or not we still can win, merely tweaking our policy promises failure.

It’s time to strip for action – and fight to win.

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