I read something this morning that completely encapsulates why we should have never invaded Iraq, but did anyway. This article by Cliff May posted on Townhall.com illustrates perfectly how idealism has no place in determining our foreign and military policies. May was actually an advisor to the Iraq Study Group (ISG), the committee who recently reported that things in Iraq are a giant mess, which will not be easy to fix.
May's thesis is essentially that the ISG got it wrong in their report. As part of what he describes as a minority on the committee, he feels that his views are more reflective of what the American people feel, and that the ISG report reflects the opinions of the "political class" and that "Americans disagree. Gallup polls have consistently found no less than 60 percent of us believe the U.S. has not been defeated and can still win." Here is actual recent poll data on Iraq from a number of national polls. I'll let you analyze the data to see if you agree with his conclusions.
May's view is that we can still "win" in Iraq. Here's how he proposes that we do this (with some additional commentary from me):
1) Stabilize Baghdad. Wow. Why hasn't the military been trying to do this? Oh wait, they have been. Putting more troops or different commanders, as May suggests, will just pull out the commanders who probably actually understand Baghdad and make for a more "target-rich environment" for the insurgents.
2)We are at war with al-Qaeda in Iraq, so we can't leave or WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!! I take exception to this comment, because the only reason al-Qaeda is in Iraq in the first place is because we tossed out a brutal dictatorship and gave them an opportunity. There was no link between Saddam and al-Qaeda, and saying it 1000 doesn't make it so.
3)Hunt down insurgents. Again, I think this has been occurring. May's strategy seems to be stating the obvious, and pretending that it's not current policy. While we're on this, I have an idea too. I think we should print money to exchange for goods and services. Isn't that a radical idea?
4) Deal with Syria and Iran. This is actually a good idea. The problem is that May offers contradicting vague strategies on how exactly we should do this. On one hand he says that we should "make sure that they know that we can and will hurt them" and then finishes by saying "once they understand we have the power and the will to take them on, sitting down to talk may make sense". Let's call it diplomacy by carpet bombing.
5) Accelerate training of Iraqi forces. He must not have read about how the Bush Administration has been pushing this for over 2 years now. We'll stand down when they can stand up ring a bell? As we've discovered through our experience in Iraq, simply training these people doesn't mean they won't be threatened, killed, or rounded up and turned to the dark side by the insurgency.
6) Be a peace broker between Shiites and Sunnis. Despite not saying exactly how we can manage to negotiate peace between two groups that have been fighting for 2000 years, May feels that this is the key to peace in Iraq. No kidding. It's like saying we'd only have peace if they'd just stop fighting.
Needless to say, May will not be getting Nobel Peace Prize for his progressive suggestions regarding our strategy in Iraq. I'm relieved that the ISG didn't listen to his advice, because frankly, it's just the status quo, which is the entire reason that the ISG was formed in the first place. The strategy outlined by May would be fantastic if it were even the least bit realistic. His idealism and partisanship have blinded him to the reality that Iraq is not going to be a peaceful place anytime soon, regardless of what we decide to do.
Those of you who read this regularly know that despite my opposition to our involvement in Iraq, I don't feel that we should pull out either. But, that does not mean that we should continue to use the same antiquated framework of "victory" as a measuring stick for when we get out of there. There is no realistic condition by which we can say we've won this war.