"Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) — The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said the U.S. should consider a “change of course” in Iraq if the government there can’t stabilize the country in the next two to three months.
Senator John Warner’s comments, after returning from a one- day visit to Iraq, were the most critical assessments yet from a top congressional Republican about the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who President George W. Bush has championed as a strong leader. They also may serve notice to the president that even his strongest allies in Congress may be running out of patience.
Warner, a former Navy secretary and longtime Republican leader on defense issues, didn’t outline what changes to U.S. strategy should be made and whether that includes withdrawing or redeploying U.S. troops.
“I wouldn’t take any option off the table,” he said during a news conference today at the Capitol. Steinman in Bloomberg News
John Warner is my senator and I have always respected him greatly. I continue to do so. In my view he has labored mightily to keep the ship of state afloat in spite of the Utopian nonsense that has dominated the Bush Administration. He has done so in spite of the disrespectful way that Rumsfeld and company have treated his opinions and nominations of people for important jobs, for example, Secretary of the Army.
For him to say that the Maliki government has 90 days to get control of the situation or the United States should reconsider it options is a major step. The bomb throwers may not think it is a big deal, but it is. He says that "no option should be off the table."
I was taught at the War College (Carlisle) that military strategy should be made in an orderly fashion based on perceived national interests. The way this is supposed to happen is that based on such interests, a national strategy is imagined which combines ALL the civil and military tools available to the government in a plan intended to achieve the national interest under consideration. Once that is done, then military means contributory to that goal are brought into the plan in a coherent design that always keeps the end state desired in mind.
In other words, military strategy can not be made in a policy vacuum. In my opinion, no change of deployments or new military courses of action will have a real meaning unless they are grounded in a new US foreign policy in the Middle East, and specifically a new policy intended to deal with Iraq in the context of its own geo-strategic position in the midst of the Islamic World.
So far, we have been following a policy that envisions revolutionary change in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East leading to a Utopian and Earthly Paradise of the sort fantasized by Frum and Perle in their egregious book, "The End of Evil." The military strategy we have been following was inflicted on the armed forces by the Bush Administration in pursuit of that goal. Large forces were not thought necessary because Iraq, like the rest of the Middle East, was thought by the Bush Administration to be a "pile of tinder" awaiting only a match in order to burst into revolutionary flames. That did not happen. Instead the various "centrifugal" forces of tribal, and sectarian Iraq are tearing the country apart while at the same time protesting the authenticity of their "Iraqiness."
The game is actually over in Iraq. It has been decided in the streets and its outcome is symbolized by the piles of tortured corpses "discovered" each day by the same police who may well have been complicit in the "drillings" and shootings of the previous night.
Iraq is going to be partitioned. This may be either de facto or de jure but it will be partitioned. The process of disintegration launched by the United States in eliminating the mechanisms of state integrity has progressed so far that effective dissolution of the old Iraq is inevitable. The recent frustrated desperation evident in the statements of the US command in Baghdad, and the ridiculous futility of Dr. Rice’s latest trip are unmistakable signs of disintegration. Indeed, the partition is now underway.
US forces have been pulled back into the capital for a so far unsuccessful attempt to quell the violence. Not only has this concentration been unsuccessful but it has stripped Anbar Province of troops that were need to deal with growing Sunni insurgent and Islamist power.
What will the partitioned Iraq look like?
-A Kurdish region either completely or nearly independent with massive oil assets and the city of Kirkuk. Will Turkey accept that? Ah. That should be the subject of creative diplomacy on all sides.
-A "rump" state of Iraq extending from (but not necessarily including) Baghdad to the Kuwait border. Wealthy in oil, dominated by the Shia Arabs and friendly to Iran, it may be impossible for this state to maintain its capital in Baghdad. So far, its security forces show no sign of being able to control the situation there.
-An insurgent "redoubt area" dominated by Sunni Arabs and international jihadis will cover all of what is now called the "Sunni Triangle" and perhaps much of Baghdad as well. This "land of insolence" will be poverty stricken but supported by many states and individuals in the Sunni Islamic world as a bulwark against further expansion of the area of Shia triumphalism. The idea has been "floated" of an economic compact between these three successor entities which would provide the Sunni Arabs with considerable oil revenue. This idea underestimates the actual hatred among these groups, but, nevertheless, such an accord should also be the subject of creative diplomacy.
A recognition that this partition of Iraq has now become inevitable and beyond the ability of the United States to prevent is a pre-condition for the adoption of a "reality based" policy which can deal with the vital issue of American relations with the pieces of Iraq. Equally important are the issues of relations among the states which surround, and influence the tri-partite Mesopotamia of the future.
James Webb, now a candidate for the US Senate, has indicated that an international conference is needed for the purpose of "launching" diplomatic efforts to stabilize the region. That is true, but a pre-requisite for that conference would have to be an American acknowledgment that its present policy has failed and that a policy of reconciliation with and among the disputants, including Iran, must take place before anything fruitful can occur.
A sensible American military strategy would emerge from the adoption of such a policy.