Let Iraqis be Iraqis
I think we've probably done all we can in Iraq. I'm tired of calls for more boots when it would only mean more Americans killed. Abizaid's insistance on not getting tougher, just stepping up training, makes the most sense to me. I wouldn't take McCain's opinions over his, because Abizaid is of Arabic (Lebanese) extraction and speeaks Arabic. I think he knows more about the problems than any 20 Senators put together.
In the linked column above, Ralph Peters says we're not killing enough bad guys. The problem with that is that in Iraq, it's hard to tell who the bad guys are and often, as in the case of Muqtada al-Sader, if you killed some of those who deserve it, there would be a massive entifada against us. He's the son of a famous and beloved cleric martyred by Saddam.
What's going on is a struggle between Shias and Sunnis for the soul of Islam, and we can't afford to get involved in the middle. I don't know how things will work themselves out, but the quickest way I know of to get out with honor is to step up training of local forces.
I'm reading Robert Kaplan's book Imperial Grunts, which explains how our Special Forces function around the globe, training local elite troops and leaving it for them to train others. I don't know if our training will hold in Iraq. We're trying to instill Western honor into people who have their own system already. There's no way to guarantee that once we're gone, things won't heat up again.
But we have broken the yoke from the necks of Shiites. and we've seen that they are willing to risk life and limb to vote. And if we back a Shiite government against foreign terrorists and bombers, I think they'll be able to preserved human rights that will never be allowed by any of the fundamentalists, Sunni or Shia.
Kaplan's book suggests to me that we should begin pulling out regular "occupation" troops and leave a lot of Special Ops teams with a mission to training, equip, teach, without our presence being such an attractive target for outsiders to come into Iraq. The incentive not to interfere should be that we still have air supremacy and could send an army anywhere in a short time to do to any other regime what we did to Saddam's. We might leave chaos, but that is their problem not ours. America needs to serve notice that our military is not an NGO, to be played like the UN or its "Peace keeping teams." We need to make it known that we are watching, and can move swiftly to take out the enemies of freedom when they make themselves known, repeatedly, if necessary, until the locals get the picture and start taking care of their own problems. No war need last more than a month anymore, if followed up by teams like those who presently work with the government of Colombia.
I admit this is largely pipe-dreaming, but I don't think it enhances our reputation to take over a country and then get bogged down in nation building, while our vaunted weapons and soldiers get cut to pieces with cheap low-tech weapons like RPGs and IEDs, which are nothing more than booby traps. We should fight geurrillas with our own and make ours the most lethal and scary ones anywhere.
To do all this, Congress needs to quit yelling about oversight and human rights, and learn that you can't win wars with humanitarian aid any more than you can with candy and beeds.