Tuesday, October 05, 2004

To Win the Peace in Iraq, Win the War First
from the mind of  ME=mc^2.

During the question and answer period at an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld commented that "you cannot allow a series of safe havens or a consistent pattern of misbehavior, anti-social behavior, violence against the government of Iraq, to go on over a sustained period of time." But that's in fact just what they've done. To wit, the ongoing insurgency in Fallujah and the broader Sunni triangle. The appearance if not the reality is that whoever is calling the shots in Iraq -- whether Paul Bremer, General Abizaid, or most recently Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi -- is prematurely preoccupied with winning the peace when in fact the war has not yet been won.

Victory in Iraq, tragically, will claim more civilian casualties: They can come either as the result of this perpetual relatively low level tit-for-tat fighting, terrorist attacks, and car bombings, or as the result of collateral damage as the insurgents in the Sunni Triangle are crushed by the American Military, our allies, and the Iraqi Security forces.

It's time for the Bush Administration, the allied commanders on the ground in Iraq, and Prime Minister Allawi to face up to three fundamental facts. First, a moral one. It is the enemy terrorists, not we Americans, our allies, or the Iraqi Security forces, who choose to turn schools into armories, mosques into bases, and neighborhoods in battle grounds. It is they, not we, who target civilians. As the historian Victor Davis Hanson has noted, "there is a difference, a moral difference, between deliberately targeting civilians in peace and deliberating attempting to avoid them in war." Second, a political fact. Failure to defeat these terrorists will place the elections scheduled for January into grave jeopardy. And third, a historical fact. In war, true and lasting victory only comes after an enemy is defeated, his ideas discredited, his hopes for victory lost, and his will to fight on exhausted. The few remaining enemy survivors must be made to believe deeply that fighting on will result only in the complete and utter destruction of everything they hold dear. General Curtis LeMay, British Air Marshal Arthur Harris, and President Harry Truman probably weren't concerned with "winning the peace" when they ordered, respectively, the fire-bombing of Tokyo, the destruction of Dresden, and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Instead, all three were trying to win the war.

To put not too fine a point on it, winning the peace will be much easier after the war is won.

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