Losing in Iraq, part one

When the US began its attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan, I said that destroying our enemies anywhere in the world would be easy, but building states would be hard, would most likely fail, for no one understands how a state is built, and the trend of the times is for states to fail.

And so it has proven: The surge produced the temporary appearance of relative quiet in Iraq, but our enemies knew that the surge was unsustainable. We could not keep so many men in Iraq indefinitely. And now the time is coming, that forces in Iraq must be reduced.

Al Quaeda is being slaughtered in Iraq. They are radical Sunni Muslims, and are being killed by conservative Sunni Muslims. But conservative Sunni Muslims are not our friends, merely the enemy of our enemy. The radical Shia plurality, knowing we are about to reduce our forces, is once again taking up arms against us. The moderate Shia minority are disinclined to fight them. We are hosed. To win, we need more tightly focussed objectives. If our objective was to slaughter lots of Al Quaeda, we are winning, we have won. If we have broader objectives, we are losing. Time to adopt more realistic and tightly focused objectives.

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