John Phifer laments: ‘Last year we had a special commission on the Iraq war whose job it was to look at what we were doing right and wrong… and all [President Bush] came up with was ‘SEND MORE TROOPS’.’
To Mr. Phifer: Mistakes were made in the buildup to the Iraq war, the first of which was Rumsfeld’s insistence on a small force which could be used strategically and surgically to obliterate Saddam’s armies. This initiative was tactically sound, and led to the overwhelming obliteration of the Iraqi
military. ‘Shock and Awe’ was a rousing success in terms of symmetric warfare.
On the other hand, the aftermath of the war was handled about as poorly as could have been hoped for. The small force that Rumsfeld designed was incapable of dealing with a wide insurgency of local and non-local groups. American troops were stretched badly, unable to capture and hold an area for
more than a short period of time. Anyone who has played a real-time strategy game knows that if you don’t have enough troops to hold an area, you will lose control of it pretty darn fast.
So what is this ‘surge’? The call is not only for more troops. There has been a sea-change in the tactics used as well; all changes for the better. Recent reports tell us that the Mahdi Army has fallen apart now that their extremist leader has fled to his Iranian safe haven. There are also heartening reports of the tribes in Anbar province backed by Iraqi army and
US units fighting against the Al-Qaeda elements which have tried to shove Taliban-style Islam down the throats (easier to do after a beheading) of the populace.
I don’t know if we’ll win. I do know that we cannot afford to lose by running away – what we face is an enemy which values honor and face above all else. If we appear weak, we are weak, and that is to their advantage. Islamic extremism is a worryingly worldwide phenomenon – from ex-board members of CAIR serving prison time for assisting terrorists to the shadowy Thai separatists who behead Buddhist schoolteachers and Muslim government sympathizers. Iraq is just a part of the wider battle. Support the troops. Let them win.
Dr. Ethan Deneault
Assistant Professor of Physics