Hogan's Alley

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bush's Plan For Iraq

The 35 page "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is now available at the White House website. It does seem a comprehensive and thorough approach to the complexities of Iraq today.

It defines the enemy clearly:


  • The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists, and terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida. These three groups share a common opposition to the elected Iraqi government and to the presence of Coalition forces, but otherwise have separate and to some extent incompatible goals.
    • Rejectionists are the largest group. They are largely Sunni Arabs who have not embraced the shift from Saddam Hussein's Iraq to a democratically governed state. Not all Sunni Arabs fall into this category. But those that do are against a new Iraq in which they are no longer the privileged elite. Most of these rejectionists opposed the new constitution, but many in their ranks are recognizing that opting out of the democratic process has hurt their interests.
      • We judge that over time many in this group will increasingly support a democratic Iraq provided that the federal government protects minority rights and the legitimate interests of all communities.
    • Saddamists and former regime loyalists harbor dreams of reestablishing a Ba'athist dictatorship and have played a lead role in fomenting wider sentiment against the Iraqi government and the Coalition.
      • We judge that few from this group can be won over to support a democratic Iraq, but that this group can be marginalized to the point where it can and will be defeated by Iraqi forces.
    • Terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida make up the smallest enemy group but are the most lethal and pose the most immediate threat because (1) they are responsible for the most dramatic atrocities, which kill the most people and function as a recruiting tool for further terrorism and (2) they espouse the extreme goals of Osama Bin Laden -- chaos in Iraq which will allow them to establish a base for toppling Iraq's neighbors and launching attacks outside the region and against the U.S. homeland.
      • The terrorists have identified Iraq as central to their global aspirations. For that reason, terrorists and extremists from all parts of the Middle East and North Africa have found their way to Iraq and made common cause with indigenous religious extremists and former members of Saddam's regime. This group cannot be won over and must be defeated -- killed or captured -- through sustained counterterrorism operations.
    • There are other elements that threaten the democratic process in Iraq, including criminals and Shi'a religious extremists, but we judge that such elements can be handled by Iraqi forces alone and/or assimilated into the political process in the short term.

It defines the desired outcomes clearly:

  • Our strategy involves three integrated tracks -- political, security, and economic -- each with separate objectives, but together helping Iraqis to defeat the terrorists, Saddamists, and rejectionists, and secure a new democratic state in Iraq.

The Political Track
(Isolate, Engage, Build)

    • Objective: To help the Iraqi people forge a broadly supported national compact for democratic government, thereby isolating enemy elements from the broader public.
    • To achieve this objective, we are helping the Iraqi government:
      • Isolate hardened enemy elements from those who can be won over to a peaceful political process by countering false propaganda and demonstrating to the Iraqi people that they have a stake in a viable, democratic Iraq.
      • Engage those outside the political process and invite in those willing to turn away from violence through ever-expanding avenues of peaceful participation.
      • Build stable, pluralistic, and effective national institutions that can protect the interests of all Iraqis, and facilitate Iraq's full integration into the international community.

The Security Track
(Clear, Hold, Build)

    • Objective: To develop the Iraqis' capacity to secure their country while carrying out a campaign to defeat the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency.
    • To achieve this objective, we are helping the Iraqi government:
      • Clear areas of enemy control by remaining on the offensive, killing and capturing enemy fighters and denying them safe-haven.
      • Hold areas freed from enemy control by ensuring that they remain under the control of a peaceful Iraqi government with an adequate Iraqi security force presence.
      • Build Iraqi Security Forces and the capacity of local institutions to deliver services, advance the rule of law, and nurture civil society.

The Economic Track
(Restore, Reform, Build)

    • Objective: To assist the Iraqi government in establishing the foundations for a sound economy with the capacity to deliver essential services.
    • To achieve this objective, we are helping the Iraqi government:
      • Restore Iraq's neglected infrastructure so it can meet increasing demand and the needs of a growing economy.
      • Reform Iraq's economy, which has been shaped by war, dictatorship, and sanctions, so that it can be self-sustaining in the future.
      • Build the capacity of Iraqi institutions to maintain infrastructure, rejoin the international economic community, and improve the general welfare of all Iraqis.
Unspoken in this document are the many wrong turns that have led to much wasted time and many wasted lives along the road to this current understanding. A willingness to acknowledge past mistakes would go a long way toward giving this President the credibility he so sorely lacks.

Creating nations is an extraordinarily complex undertaking. I am certain that the first post-war years in Germany and Japan were replete with mistakes and false starts now long forgotten. The American people can accept that complex undertakings are subject to human error.

It is also true that any admission of past mistakes in our current highly charged political environment would raise an chorus of "I told you so's" from the Democrats. With very few exceptions we are no longer led by statesmen.