Another 200,000 troops might make a difference. 20,000 additional sets of boots on the ground is not going to help Iraq any corners that lead to the promised land.
The real question in my mind is: how can we expect to win politically when we don’t have the willpower to win militarily? Iraqis may have been ready to vote, but their leaders are not ready to lead. The President would have done better if he had announced that we were going to deal with militias once and for all, starting with the elimination of Moqtada al-Sadr. But we Americans are growing increasingly spineless when it comes to following through with any painful, messy decisions. I’ve suggested that al-Sadr must be dealt with before in a post entitled Muqtada al-Sadr: enemy of a free Iraq. When Saddam was deposed, he was replaced with 1,000 little Saddams due to poor planning and ignorance of the realities of life in Iraq on the part of the invaders.
One of the most powerful of these little Saddams is Moqtada. We put out an arrest warrant for the man years ago, but we haven’t had the willpower to follow through on it. We need a full scale attack on his followers, instead of constant little clashes. Moqtada must most likely be killed. It’s easy for fat, comfortable Americans back home to complain about how brutal and harsh this approach is, but Iraqis would understand it. They lived with it under Saddam, and under many of his predecessors.
Killing Moqtada would send a message – that we mean business, and that we are not going away. If Iraq is to be pacified, if it is to be given a chance to develop and grow out of its savage state, we will probably have to continue killing every harbinger of violent and torture that steps forward until there are so few left that they run and cower. Instead, we’ve emboldened these crackpot fundamentalists by threatening them with a spanking instead of giving it to them. We have the military capability to put Iraq back in the Stone Age overnight, but we’re hesitant to use it because we’re compassionate.
Iraq’s politicians are not going to bring the bubbling cauldron back under control. We need to put aside our compassion and face the facts – daily life in Baghdad is a living hell for most of its residents. Now all we have to do is decide whether we want to set the conditions under which the militants there are going to die, or whether we want to continue allowing them to set the conditions.
As long as we continue allowing our enemies to choose their battlefields, we will continue suffering and fighting amongst ourselves about whether or not we’re accomplishing anything. It’s time to decide whether we’re willing to win. If we are, it could get very, very ugly in the short term, but in the long run, Iraqis and their neighbors will be better off. Let’s get serious about controlling Baghdad by any means necessary. That means destroying anyone that gets in the way.
20,000 more policemen won’t accomplish that. No, 20,000 more American uniforms in Baghdad will create what we in the U.S. military call a target-rich environment. Unless, of course, we send those 20,000 new fighters in with the discretionary authority to do whatever they need to do to subdue their enemy. But I don’t think we will do that. We’ve become weak-willed due to our own Sunni-Shia type split. Maybe we’re headed towards our own next civil war.