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December 05, 2006

IRAQ SYMPOSIUM, PART ONE: I've been flooded with email on this in response to my post the other day, so I'm probably going to have to put it up in pieces. Here's piece one, anyway.

James Ruhland, having served in Iraq, posts his thoughts in "There and Back Again." Excerpt:

Too many people are concerned with cosseting the troops: They're all about body armor, safety, putting as many as possible behind the wire, protected by concrete barriers, and not about what needs to be done. We need to get more of out troops outside the big basecamps, and working directly with Iraqi forces as mentors. We also need to expand greatly the embedment of other departments of our government, and allied nations, with Iraqi counterparts, to build civil-society infrastructure.

We need to reduce the megabases, the situation where Fort Hood is essentially being re-created opposite the terminal of Baghdad International, and get more of us out working with the Iraqi soldiers. We need to "embed" more troops among the Iraqis, mentor them more.

He's got a lot of thoughts on the home front, too.

At Posse Incitatus, a suggestion that we change our approach:


The key is a regional solution. We cannot wall off Iraq from the nations around it, nor should we wish to. Instead, we should be exporting Iraq to the rest of the region.

This having been said, it has long been clear that the US plays by one set of rules, and its rivals use a far more effective and different set.

This needs to change.

Bottom line: "Regime change. More of it."

At the Turkeyblog, a less bellicose approach:

On the ground, of course, we've been putting in power plants, re-laying streets, securing businesses, etc. But there's a disconnect when we turn around and try to get this or that imam or mufti on board as though the Iraqi people were mere reflections of the mosques they went to. For some, that may be the case. But that's one of our big problems, and when we give those who follow this or that imam a bigger voice by doing things this way, we get in the way of what we need to be promoting: secularization.

At Wikistan: "The key to a more stable Iraq is stronger pressure on Tehran via Russia. "

John Engram proposes something kind of similar:

Declare war on the Iranian economy. . . .

Basically, I'm advocating placing Iran's oil fields at risk (instead of their nuclear facilities). The Iranian economy is rocky and could not withstand a reduction in oil revenues for any appreciable length of time. An announcement by the US that it might be prepared to disrupt Iranian oil export capacity would be taken seriously by countries thinking about signing long-term contracts with Tehran.

With the right futures-market positions, we could actually turn a profit on this approach . . . .

At Stromata, another Iran-centered approach:

Now that we have confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that Iran is supplying weapons to anti-American militias, and probably training them, too, we should cut transport lines between the two countries.

And there's more along these lines. On the other hand, at Prof. James Hamilton's Econbrowser, a proposal for a more conciliatory approach to the Sunnis:

To this end we propose that the United States make a financial commitment to Iraq which takes the form of ensuring that its Sunni provinces get oil revenues proportional to their share of the population over the next decade or possibly more. Initially, it should take the form of simply funneling an amount equal to the Sunni share directly to these provinces. This would at the same time increase the size of the national pie, which would help to appease the Shia and the Kurds, and might also reduce the tension over Kirkuk. In later years the commitment would transition into an insurance policy.

I prefer the "oil trust" idea myself (me and Hillary Clinton), but these approaches aren't entirely inconsistent.

Terri Goon would focus on training Iraqis in a new and more intense fashion.

Texas Scribbler writes:

I like the idea of hitting the mullahs (and their figurehead president) in their pocketbooks, but supporting the Iranian opposition (particularly their trade unions) with more vigor than we apparently are doing now, would also be ideal. But I think the best idea is what is already underway, according to some of CENTCOM's recent press releases, i.e. converting the patrolling of the big American units into a relatively small advisory effort. Call it training for the Iraqi army, if you want, but it would mainly be about providing them with American officers on the ground with access to our artillery, air support and medevac. Which is what we were doing in Vietnam by 1972, with more success than previously. True counter-insurgency operations. Only this time we must not cut off the funding. . . .

As for Syria, why not financially undermine Baby Assad the same way we do the mullahs, in fact the whole Syrian Bathhist elite? We certainly have the means, and with Iraq drawn down to a 30,000 or so ground troop advisory effort, we'd again have the forces for outright war with Syria. The terrain there is very inviting.

The Jacksonian Party offers "a plan to stabilize Iraq." It's rather involved.

And a whole bunch of people pointed to this article by Chester, which I've already linked but am linking again. Apparently it has a lot of fans, both inside and outside the military.

Finally -- for this installment, at least -- some rather detailed thoughts on strategy and tactics from Jay Manifold -- read 'em all. And if you don't have a blog and want to participate, Greyhawk has set up a comment thread just for that.