A real strategy for victory in Iraq...

I have thought long and hard about the best options available to the coalition forces as they attempt to combat a seemingly unrelenting terrorist insurgency, which has fomented sectarian strife and successfully (though ironically) won the "hearts and minds" of American voters, as evidenced by the results of the recent midterm elections and daily public opinion polls. My opinion of the US-led effort to date is more favorable than most, but it is hard not to notice the opportunistic undertones in many of the recent converts to the anti-war bandwagon. Unfortunately, because of unforeseeable consequences of US post-war policy, the situation has become impossible to rationalize through the media and the Administration is likely to face growing opposition unless it can take radical and innovative steps toward achieving a viable long-term solution to the violence that has ravaged Iraq. At the same time, it is essential for and change in military strategy to take on the increasingly bold regime in Iran, which has decided to defy international consensus and press forward with its nuclear program, not to mention the constant infiltration of suicide bombers and arms the country has been supplying the Iraq insurgency.

The most important goal of the the coalition should be to figure out how the fledgling Iraqi military could most effectively take over control in major urban areas. I have concluded that the most practical and potentially effective option would be a two phase redeployment of forces. First, the Iraqi police forces should be tasked with rounding up every single male Iraqi over the age of 16 in the areas of Iraq that have seen the most terrorist activity, and then they should release them slowly after each has been given a thorough background check. A story I have recently read in Forbes suggests that this is exactly the type of strategy that the coalition is now considering. The second phase of my strategy would have the US forces still in the Baghdad area pull out completely, along with all other coalition forces, and set up new bases along the border with Iran and Syria, where most of the terrorists are infiltrating the country.

There are several potential political and military victories that could be achieved by employing such a strategy. First, if the Democrats hold true to their previous political tactics, they will predictably oppose such a radical change in tactics, likely invoking Iraqi civil rights in a pathetic attempt to stand against Bush at all costs. I doubt very much that such an argument would carry much favor with the American people, so by taking this seemingly radical step, Bush could reshape the debate here at home and put his party back in the position of being the most trusted on the issue of combating terrorism.

Another potential benefit is that by realigning the American presence in the war torn country, the president can effectively argue that his policy is focused on reducing the military's presence over the long term. It would be logical to assume that fewer troops would be needed to patrol the Iraq's borders than are currently needed to patrol the streets of Baghdad. Additionally, by increasing the US presence in the northern regions of the country the unspoken message sent to Tehran will be unmistakable. I am not a fan of the so-called McCain Doctrine, or the troop surge which the White House has been floating in the media recently as the centerpiece of their strategy adjustment. Having recently deployed another aircraft carrier to the Gulf, the White House has shown it is serious about putting Iran on notice that it won't put up with its defiant posturing for very much longer.

I don't think that I have all of the answers, but at least I am attempting to come up with an innovative solution to the problems facing our forces in Iraq. I hope the ideas put forth in this article will spur similar thought and critical analysis from those of you who are as interested as I in finding a realistic policy option that will help us win the war against terrorism.

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