Saturday, January 13, 2007

We've got to break a few eggs... and start focusing on the forest instead of the trees...

In my earlier post, where in response to Bush's challenge to his critics, my call to pull our troops out of harm's way and have them focus on training the Iraqi Army to take care of things was, I'll freely admit, based on my belief that American soldiers ought not to be placed in harm's way to keep Iraqis from killing one another... and if that meant that Bush's dream of seeing Iraq as a peaceful democracy never came of fruition, so be it.

But then, the more I thought of it, the more I realized that my suggestion didn't mean that things wouldn't end up the way Bush wanted. In fact, my proposal would get Bush his much-sought victory faster than Bush's own plan would... he just wouldn't get it the way he has been trying to get it.

Right now, Bush is focused on the wrong thing. He's trying to cut down on the violence in Iraq, on cutting down the number of Iraqi civilians killed by one or the other of the warring factions. And it's understandable that he is doing so, given the MSM fixation on body counts, explosions and the like.

But he is wrong. In having American troops patrolling and trying to disrupt the insurgents, he is hurting his chances of ever acheiving his much-sought 'victory'.

In the long run, what matters is whether the Iraqi government and Army can take care of things themselves, without help from us. The sooner they get up to speed, the better for Iraq and the better for us. Whether 50,000 or 500,000 Iraqis die while we train the Iraqi Army isn't that important.

A parallel can be found with Lincoln's handling of the Civil War. He didn't dwell on trying to minimize the number of casualties the North was taking, he focused on smashing the South and forcing their surrender as soon as possible.

And what we need to do in Iraq is train the Iraqi Army to take over as fast as we possibly could... and, accordingly, all of our military assets in Iraq ought to be devoted to the job of training the Iraqi Army as fast as can possibly be done.

Ultimately, winning in Iraq will not be defined by whether American troops can keep the peace, the benchmark for determining whether we've won is whether the Iraqi can keep the peace.... and so the sooner we can help them get there, the better for us, the better for the Iraqis... and the sooner Bush can start counting on the dividends from his 'victory'...