06/28/2005: Can't Win For Losing...
The Good News and Bad News This is the picture in Iraq: A conflict that the United States cannot easily lose, but also cannot easily win. By Fareed Zakaria (Newsweek):
"…What I worry about is not a defeat along the lines of Vietnam. It is something different. If the insurgents keep up their attacks, prevent reconstruction and renewed economic activity and, most important, continue to attract jihadists to Iraq from all over the region and the world. Last month's leaked CIA report, which described Iraq as the new on-the-ground training center for Islamic extremists, points to the real danger. If thousands of jihadists hone their skills in the streets and back alleys of Iraq and then return to their countries, it could mark the beginning of a new wave of sophisticated terror. Just as Al Qaeda was born in the killing fields of Afghanistan, new groups could grow in the back alleys of Iraq. And many of these foreigners are kids with no previous track record of terror. Some even have European passports, which means that they will be very difficult to screen out of the United States or any other country.
Additionally, by the fall of 2006, it will be virtually impossible to maintain current troop levels in Iraq because the use of reserve forces will have been stretched to the limit. That's when pressure to bring the boys home will become irresistible. And that would be bad news for the Iraqi government, which is still extremely weak and in many areas dysfunctional.
…Secretary Rumsfeld has long argued that American troops should never engage in nation building, leaving that to locals. But while we waited for Iraqis to do it, chaos broke out and terror reigned. So the Army on the ground has ignored Rumsfeld's ideology and has simply made things work. (It's a good rule of thumb for the future.)
But if we want to move beyond coping, we need a full-scale revitalization of Iraq policy, with resources to match it. Muddling along will ensure we don't lose in Iraq, but we won't win either.
Karen on 06.28.05 @ 07:29 AM CST