Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thomas Friedman's Latest Column On Iraq In NYT Emphasizes Deterioration Of Our Position There

The New York Times foreign affairs columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, has an article today, June 15, that points up what I think has to be acknowledged even by supporters of the U.S. effort in Iraq: Namely that we have to devise a better strategy there if we are going to be successful.

The downward spiral of uncontrolled insurgent violence and sectarian suicide bombings there continues. It is now common for 50 people to be killed nearly every day, mostly innocent civilians, while, for the most part, the Iraqi government's own efforts to stem the attacks are ineffective, and even the U.S. forces seem for the most part to be reacting rather than acting.

Friedman, who to be frank, has been all over the map on Iraq, frequently changing according to his mood, nonetheless has several times now suggested that the U.S. cannot be successful until it has more troops on the scene.

He says this morning, "We've already paid a huge price for the Rumsfeld Doctrine -- 'Just enough troops to lose.' Calling for more troops now, I know, is the last thing anyone wants to hear. But we are fooling ourselves to think that a decent, normal, forward-looking Iraqi politics or army is going to emerge from a totally insecure environment, where you can feel safe only with your own tribe."

Friedman may well be right in principal, but President Bush continues to sink in the polls on the matter of Iraqi policy and a massive infusion of more U.S. troops could well tip even more people against the whole venture. Mr. Bush may be closer than we think to losing his majority in Washington. Even many Republicans in Congress are growing more uneasy.

Yet, as I've contended before, the stakes are very high, if we lose. We could walk out of Vietnam without severe strategic overall losses in the world. That is not so in Iraq, where the terrorists would only be encouraged, and the price of oil only go higher as a result of an American defeat. Such a defeat could lead to the overthrow of other Middle Eastern regimes friendly to us.

Friedman does not say so, but more devastating airpower perhaps should be tried in Iraq in the Sunni triangle and along the Syrian border in an effort to take down the insurgents and foreign jihadists.

Surely, Mr. Bush's recent attempt, by sending the Secretary of State to Baghdad to try to get the Iraqi government to act more kindly toward the Sunnis, bringing them into the government, cannot possibly succeed. The Iraqi government won't budge on this point for understandable reasons, and the Sunnis won't be cooperative until the price of not being cooperative gets too high.

Mr. Bush probably should have removed Rumsfeld immediately after his reelection. It is clear the Secretary of Defense has run out of ideas. He needs to be replaced by someone like Sen. John McCain, who will wage the war with fresh ideas and intensity.

Things now are being allowed to drift. That is not to our advantage.


Blogger Big B said...

As usual Mr. Reich an insightful post.

On a lighter note, when oh when, will the Times get rid of all their passe, pop up ads. What a nuisance, that lessens the professionalism of their website.

6/17/2005 2:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Air power? Exactly what would you be targeting? Maybe you think the insurgents are killing enough innocent Iraqis already.

McCain? What are you smoking? Bush is certainly not a big enough man to bring someone in who's not with the team. Gee, wouldn't it be great if Bush went away and McCain became President! Just about as likely.

You've got one thing right. The stakes are very high. The problem is that (like Vietnam) it's unwinnable. We'll keep throwing money and lives into the black hole that didn't exist until Bush built it. A policy disaster of the highest magnitude. We lose no matter what. It's now just a question of how much we throw into the black hole before we lose.

6/17/2005 8:48 PM  

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