The following proposal of the Blueprint… is republished here in the Me too… as a result of an upbeat article about the war in Iraq, written by Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution— two harsh critics of President Bush who accused him of the miserable handling of Iraq– published in the New York Times, on July 30, 2007. After spending eight days in Iraq talking to high political and military officials they write in their article, that morale is up in the ranks and the military is succeeding for the most part in securing its objectives, and the troops feel they have “a superb commander in General Petraeus”. And they now believe, that this is “a war we just might win”, which is also the title of their Op-Ed piece in the …Times.
By Con George-Kotzabasis
The ideas behind most of these proposals were conceived at the beginning of December 2006, but the paper was not published for obvious reasons as it was sent both to President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, on January 2, 2007. Now, however, that the new US strategy under the command of general Petraeus has been implemented in Iraq, I think the paper can be published without any detriment to the US strategy. As events have shown, the US military is taking hard measures against Iran by arresting some of its citizens in Iraq suspected of supplying weapons and roadside bombs to the insurgents. Also, some of the “Surge” of US forces have been deployed in the province of al Anbar where many of the insurgents, in anticipation of the Surge have abandoned Baghdad, are now heavily concentrated. But more importantly, General Petraeus has “established a network of joint security stations and combat outposts permanently manned by American and Iraqi troops around neighbourhoods in Baghdad dominated by al Qaeda and other militias…In effect Petraeus has encircled Baghdad (my emphasis) with his troops and armour. He has established an inner line more or less tracing the city’s perimeter and an outer circle of 25km to 50km from Baghdad’s edges. Most of the troops have been deployed in these encircling positions”. ( Frank Devine, The Australian July 20, 2007). As readers will see, this is the key proposal of the Blueprint…that interdicts the movement of the insurgents and their supply shipments. And last, but not least, the US has a secret plan to attack Iran without warning within twenty-four hours on the orders of the President.
Background: The Current Situation
A constellation of the “best and the brightest” stars of American foreign policy-makers and diplomats are presently attempting to prevent the penumbra of defeat from casting its ominous shadow over Iraq. Ominous, from the standpoint that the Administration’s war against Iraq was and is an essential part of the war against global terror, as the cause of the war was the reasonable alarm and concern of the Bush administration – in the aftermath of 9/11 – that the Saddam regime could potentially be in the immediate future a supplier of weapons of mass destruction to the global terrorists. Hence, a real or seeming defeat of the US forces in Iraq would have portentous ramifications on its war against the global jihadist fanatics and its state sponsors, such as Syria, and to a greater extent, Iran. So the stakes for the US are strategically high, as the outcome of an even apparent defeat by the Americans in Iraq would make the holy warriors of Islam stronger, more brazen and more deadly. In the eyes of these fanatics they will see in this “defeat” and in all of their future and impending actions, the imprimatur of Allah.
Hence, a premature withdrawal of American forces from Iraq before the consolidation of its government and the latter’s ability to quell the insurgency by its own military would be an irremediable strategic error. It would surpass by a greater order of magnitude all the other errors committed by the US in the aftermath of the defeat of Saddam Hussein. Moreover, if the rationale for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq was the war against global terror -as President Bush pointed out and as both houses of Congress accepted and voted for overwhelmingly – no responsible and historically astute political leadership would withdraw from this war just because of the difficulties that have arisen, as a result of the past mistakes of the war-planners. War by definition is difficult and is far from being error-free. But no strategist of Napoleonic dimensions abandons the field of battle because of difficulties. The military vocation and responsibility of a good strategist is to promptly overcome these difficulties by a new adroit and unconventional strategy that will address these difficulties, while at the same time plan to deal such a surprising and lethal blow to the enemy, that within a short time will disable him and make him powerless to continue his fighting.
The Baker-Hamilton Commission, formally known as the Iraq Study Group, (ISG) rules out a victory in Iraq. Henry Kissinger also believes that victory is no longer possible. It has been reported, that the ISG will recommend to the President next month to seek political accommodation with the insurgents, and to open a diplomatic avenue of negotiations with Syria and Iran and entice the latter to involve itself toward a peaceful outcome in Iraq. Such a proposition issuing from such a high-powered group, in the face of statements by American commanders on the ground that both Syria, and especially Iran are providing arms and funds to the insurgency, reveals that the ISG has hoisted its cognitive anchor from the moorings of realpolitik. One has to remind the Baker-Hamilton Commission that whomever one seeks to negotiate with, one acknowledges as master of the situation, to paraphrase Karl Marx. To go to the negotiating table, cap in hand, when your implacable enemy perceives himself to be at the threshold of military victory, is to make a parody of realist diplomacy, as well as doing this at the expense of US strategic interests.
However, not to be unjust to the Baker panel, if the latter is prepared to enforce its demands upon Syria and Iran through diplomacy – backed by an explicit threat of a military attack by the US if they don’t comply – then such a move on the chessboard of diplomacy might checkmate the menacing and nefarious role of Syria and Iran in their support of the Iraqi insurgents and Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the event these demands are rejected by Syria and Iran then the US will have no other option but to unleash its mighty arsenal against them with no quarter given. Only by such diplomacy backed by the clear and unrelenting use of one’s military power against one’s inexorable enemies can one subdue the latter and achieve one’s strategically uncompromising demands. Moreover–and this is the ultimate issue that cannot be resolved by any kind of diplomatic discourse—even if an accommodation is reached by this US power-implemented diplomacy with Syria and Iran in regards to Iraq, the “narrative” of the war against global terror will not change. The war of Western democracies, and especially of the US – being the only nation that can comprehensively defeat it – against this infamy of international terror will continue. But a vital modification in this narrative will be that the jihadists will have a weaker base from which they can launch their attacks against the West once they lose the overt and covert support of Syria and Iran, and more generally of other states that covertly and financially support terrorists. So, the positive repercussions emanating from such a military-backed diplomacy by the US will be an enormous strategic fillip for the latter in its war against global terror, and especially against the insurgency in Iraq.
NEW STRATEGY MUST SECURE BAGHDAD
“Flipping the bird”, to use a Brooklyn term, of gradual withdrawal in whatever form before the job is done, as presumably is going to be suggested to the President by the Iraq Study Group – according to leaked reports – is not a step toward victory but a step toward defeat. But for the job to be done either by Americans or Iraqis, or in combination, the strategic and tactical “steps” on the ground against the insurgents will have to change radically. Also, for this new strategy to be successful, it will be necessary to inject a dose of ruthlessness into the coalition forces’ operations that is commensurate to the ruthlessness of the insurgents. The spread of fear by the insurgents must be countermanded by the greater fear of what will happen to them and to their sundry political supporters within Iraq by the might of US military power used against them sans civilized compunctions. The rules of engagement of US troops and the use of the instruments of war against the insurgents must change seminally in this new strategy. Only by doing so will the latter ensure the defeat of this irreconcilable and bloodthirsty enemy.
Securing Baghdad will be the point d’ appui of this new campaign against the insurgents–with whose military tactics for the achievement of this goal we will deal with further down. Hence, a concentration of US coalition forces will be needed to clear up or eliminate the insurgents from the areas where they are hiding, and restore security under the continuing presence of the coalition forces.
The following tactics are crucial for securing Baghdad: 1. An important element in this new strategy will be degrading the ability of the insurgents to use car bombs, both against civilians, as well as Iraqi security forces. To accomplish this task, the Iraqi government must pass a law that will prescribe that no vehicle within the commercial and servicing areas of Baghdad will be allowed to park without at least one passenger being in it. In case a car has no one in it or is seen to be abandoned by its driver, that will immediately send a warning to commuters close to it that it’s more likely than not a car bomb. To prevent the insurgents from using dummies or kidnapped passengers tied to the vehicle, the latter must have its passenger side-window open so nearby commuters will be able to see or hear respectively whether it is a dummy or a kidnapped person. Hence an important corollary of this law will be the willy-nilly change of Iraqi civilians into commuter vigilantes who will promptly identify a terrorist whom they themselves could arrest when he takes leave of his vehicle, if no security personnel are in the vicinity. This law of course will not prevent the detonation of a car bomb by a suicide bomber who will not abandon his vehicle. But it will diminish in substantial numbers the car bombs by taking out of the equation all those vehicles that are exploded by remote control without suicide bombers in them. Hence, the Iraqi Government, by the passing of this law, not only will diminish the number of car bombs, but it will also actively “mobilise” all civilian commuters against this murderous weapon of the insurgents.
2. Securing Baghdad will require an increased number of US troops, as has already been adumbrated by the Bush administration. The troops will be deployed both within the environs of the city and beyond for the double purpose of clearing areas where the insurgents are hiding and receiving financial support and nourishment from local leaders as well as placing a stranglehold upon them. Bearing also in mind that because the modality of the insurgency is “anarchic” – since its operations are not directed by a central command post, as each group of insurgents is doing its own thing – the coalition forces can only decapitate the insurgency by destroying the supply lines and logistics of each group. Hence, only by destroying the caches of munitions of the insurgents will the Americans be able to enervate the insurgency.
3. At the start of the military campaign of cleansing Baghdad of insurgents, the Malaki government must make the announcement that all entrance and exit points of Baghdad will be closed and no one will be allowed to enter or leave the city. More specifically, unbeknown to the insurgents, Baghdad will be encircled by US troops, so if any of the insurgents embedded within Baghdad attempt to escape the coalition forces’ attack within the capital will be killed by the encircling US troops. (This tactic of encirclement can also apply on a mini-scale, such as Sadr city or any other areas within Baghdad. The commanders on the ground will decide on the scale of its use.) Certainly this closure of the city will cause some inconvenience to the civilians, but this “naval blockade on land” is absolutely necessary for the defeat of the insurgents within Baghdad. This will lock the new American strategy like a vise around them, for if any try to enter or leave the city they will be killed without question. And once Baghdad falls from the hold of the insurgents and the relative security of the city is accomplished by the continued presence of US troops, Baghdad again will be an open city.
4. However, the consolidation of the security of Baghdad in the long term can only be accomplished if this security is expanded and achieved in other towns that are in the vicinity of Baghdad. Therefore the towns that are situated in the province of al Anbar, and which are Sunni strongholds of the Iraqi insurgency, will also have to be cleared from the menace of the insurgents. To be successful in this task US strategists will have to pick an appropriate town from this province and resort to unique strategic tactics in the form of “a prototype of destruction” that will serve as a deadly example to the insurgents and to their clan and Sheikh leaders of what awaits them in other towns of Iraq, if they do not surrender. US forces will blockade the town and announce to its residents that if they want to save themselves from a devastating attack they will have to take immediate leave of their town. Once civilians exit their town –and quite possibly some insurgents will be amongst them but they will be unarmed, otherwise they will not be able to pass through the American checkpoints — US commanders will ruthlessly use the appropriate lethal ordnance and bombs that will destroy the town and along with it all the insurgents in their bunkers who choose to be martyrs or consider the US warning to be merely a bluff. As for those insurgents who escaped with the egress of civilians from the town, the chances that they will be rearmed and recycled back to the insurgency will considerably diminish with the security of Baghdad and the borders of Syria and Iran from which the insurgency receives its arms and munitions.
Beyond any doubt, some civilians who stayed behind because they were either relatives or supporters of the insurgents, will be killed in this remorseless destruction, and there will be a tidal wave of protest, censure, and purgatorial blame against the US military action. But one must be reminded, that throughout history all protests and censures dissolve in the cup of victory. Providing this new strategy and tactics will be victorious against the Iraqi insurgency and its foreign jihadists – and the chances are that they will be – the exponents and the practitioners of this unconventional strategy will neither be accountable to man or God, but only to history. In all great crises of mankind, morality is superseded by realpolitik and the reality of war.
5. The defeat of the insurgency also entails its covert allies, Syria and Iran, who are supplying the insurgents with armaments and whose porous borders are conduits for foreign jihadists to enter Iraq, are going to be dealt with. The US must exercise a strategy of “zero tolerance” against Syria and Iran. If they do not cease their “supply” of weapons to the insurgents and don’t stop foreign jihadists from entering Iraq, then US air power will attack their borders where the caches of weapons are stored and the jihadis recruits that continue to replenish the ranks of the insurgents and al Qaeda.
The instruments of war were invented not for the purpose of lying idle in their “silos”, but to be used as a last resort against an implacable and mortal foe. If President Truman’s rationale for using the atomic bomb against Japan was the saving of American lives that an invasion of that country would inevitably entail, then President Bush has a stronger rationale of using the current lethal weapons -although not nuclear ones at this stage– that the US possesses against the bloodthirsty insurgency in Iraq. This is not only for the purpose of saving American lives but also of defeating an enemy who, in the event of taking over Iraq, would turn the latter – both physically and psychologically – into a haven and launching pad for global terror, whose jihadists would threaten the viability, and, indeed, the survival of Western civilization, as we know it.
In order to defeat global terror one must place terror in the hearts of the terrorists themselves. Islamofanatics believe in toto that they have Allah on their side and while they even think they are winning will become an even more implacable foe. Fanatics only understand the language of force and respect only the currency of strength. It is this harsh fact which must drive the rules of engagement, replacing the hitherto “nice guy” military approach of the Americans, with some notable exceptions.
This new strategy of staying the course – but with the commanders on the ground having all the appropriate means of war at their disposal to be used remorselessly against the insurgents – has a great chance of being successful. And unlike all the pessimistic pundits who have “cashiered” victory in Iraq—but pessimists cannot win wars that is the vocation of optimists—2007 could be the Annus Mirabilis for President Bush, if he has the mettle and sagacity to adopt the above strategy that could indeed be the blueprint for victory