January 11, 2007

The 800-Pound Guerrilla

I'm not at all hopeful about Bush's "new" Iraq strategy. It did have a few long-overdue elements, such as an ultimatum for the Iraqi government to disarm militias and take control of security. And Iran and Syria finally appeared to be on Bush's military radar. This News Max article highlights those comments: Bush Targets Iran in Speech, Implies Military Action.

[Bush] singled out Iran, adding that she "is providing material support for attacks on American troops."

Bush made an implied military threat against [Iran and Syria]: "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

That's fine as far as it goes, but it won't be enough. And not being enough, it will continue to drag out the war and put American troops at unnecessary risks.

Bush says we will "interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria" and "destroy the networks providing weaponry and training." The plan, it appears, is to limit our military to attacks against terrorists and their supply lines within Iraq and refrain from attacking the source of those terrorists and supply lines: Iran. Bush is attempting to cure the symptoms while ignoring the disease. As such, the weapons and terrorists will keep flowing across the border, and the chaos in Iraq, though it may rise and fall, will ultimately continue because Iran needs it to continue. How can we expect our troops to win a war in which we don't allow them to directly attack the enemy?

In World War II, we didn't stop with engaging enemy soldiers at the front lines; nor did we stop at disrupting their supply lines. We took the fight all the way to the weapons factories and the command centers from which the war emanated.

Bush did imply that more might be in the works regarding Iran, saying:

We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.

But why should we put any confidence in such moves being the start of an offensive against Iran? Bush has so far merely waged a war of words with Iran and done nothing to punish the Islamic state for the Americans it has murdered. Furthermore, I think Bush gave us a glimpse of his approach when he said in his speech:

Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship.

But why not? Why shouldn't Ahmadinejad and his Supreme Leader sign an unconditional surrender? For that is exactly what needs to happen. Bush was referring to terrorists within Iraq with his comment, but it's nonetheless apparent that he does not see the crucial necessity of totally defeating Iran, which is not only killing Americans in Iraq, which Bush freely admits, but is also the primary state sponsor of Islamic totalitarianism. He is still narrowly focused on Iraq as if it's not part of a regional, state-sponsored proxy war. Remember the Bush Doctrine and not tolerating state sponsors of terrorism? I do.

Iran is fighting to defeat us in Iraq, and they have demonstrated time and again a determination to succeed. To top it all off, they are also seeking nuclear weapons. The only way to secure Iraq--and, more importantly, America--is to topple the Iranian regime. Tragically, nothing in Bush's new strategy indicates a plan to go as far as is needed.

At NRO, Andrew C. McCarthy expresses a similar sentiment: Donít Get Too Excited about the Presidentís Warning to Iran and Syria. (via Jihad Watch)

At a background briefing before the presidentís speech, administration officials, quite appropriately, refused to get into what the new strategy for dealing with Iran and Syria precisely entails. But it was fairly clear that military steps outside Iraq are highly unlikely.

And here are two articles that make the case for taking the war to Iran. The first is from Real Clear Politics: To Win in Baghdad, Strike at Tehran by Robert Tracinski.

If [Bush] wants to succeed in Iraq, he has to do something now. So we can expect President Bush to go big, ordering a "surge" in US combat troops in Iraq.

But there is another, far more effective option: go wide.

Going wide means recognizing that Iraq is just one front in a regional war against an Islamist Axis centered in Iran--and we cannot win that war without confronting the enemy directly, outside of Iraq.

Going wide means recognizing that the conflict in Iraq is fueled and magnified by the intervention of Iran and Syria. One of the reasons the Iraq Study Group report flopped was that its key recommendation--its one unique idea--was for America to negotiate with Iran and Syria in order to convince these countries to aid in the "stabilization" of Iraq. This proposal wasn't so much argued to death as it was laughed to death, because it is clear that Iran and Syria have done everything they can to de-stabilize Iraq, supporting both sides of the sectarian conflict there. ...

Every day, we see the disastrous results of fighting this war narrowly inside Iraq while ignoring the external forces that are helping to drive it. ...

Going wide also means recognizing that more is at stake in this war than just the fate of Iraq. This is a war to determine who and what will dominate the Middle East. Will this vital region be dominated by a nuclear-armed Iran, working to spread Islamic fascism? Or will America be able to exert its military influence and political ideals in the region?

This second article I've linked to twice before but it deserves revisiting. From The Objective Standard: "No Substitute for Victory": The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism by John Lewis:

We must demand the unconditional surrender of the Islamic State in Iran--and of every other Islamic Totalitarian State on earth--to the legitimate laws of man, the laws that protect individual rights.

Dr. Lewis posted a follow-up to this article at Jihad Watch.

Islam itself is stateless, meaning that it respects no borders. It was designed precisely to rise above ethnic / tribal / clan groups, to unite all those who submit to Allah. We have to adopt the same attitude, only with freedom and individual rights as our central ideals. By defining the enemy as Islamic Totalitarianism -- meaning, government imposition of Islamic Law -- we exempt no such state from our reach, and yet allow every state a chance to avoid the title and our action.

Related, FOX News reports: U.S. Forces Detain 5 Iranian Diplomatic Staffers in Overnight Raid in Northern Iraq.

UPDATE I -- Jan. 12: Some Senators are indicating they are against engaging Iran militarily. And Gates provides a confirmation that the present plan is to work only within Iraq. From CNN: Senators to Bush: Stay out of Iran (via LGFer Killian Bundy).

President Bush's warnings to Iran and Syria to not interfere in Iraq and the arrest of six Iranians in Iraq by U.S. troops raised eyebrows Thursday on Capitol Hill, where senators warned Bush against widening the nearly four-year-old war.

Sen. Joseph Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Bush did not have the authority to send U.S. troops on cross-border raids.

"I believe the present authorization granted the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that, and he does need congressional authority to do that," Biden, D-Delaware, said during a Thursday hearing on Iraq. ...

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the House Armed Services Committee that U.S. troops are trying to crack down on the spread of Iranian-supplied explosives into Iraq, and the administration is "making it clear that those who are involved in activities that cost the lives of American soldiers are going to be subject to actions on the part of the United States inside Iraq." [Emphasis added]

UPDATE II -- Jan. 14: More signals coming from the White House that it doesn't want to treat Iran as the hostile regime it is. From CNN: White House: Can't rule out attack on Iran.

The White House said Sunday it is not planning military action against Iran, but refused to rule out the possibility, bucking pressure from several senators who said the administration is not authorized to do so.

Asked whether the United States is preparing for a potential military conflict with Iran, President Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley told NBC's "Meet the Press," "No, the president has said very clearly that the issues we have with Iran should be solved diplomatically."

But, on ABC's "This Week," Hadley would not rule out the possibility of such an attack and would not say whether he agrees with those senators who say that the Bush administration would need congressional backing for such a move.

The really scary aspect of all this is that the "we have no plans to attack Iran" line is supposed to be reassuring to some.

Posted by Forkum at January 11, 2007 05:43 PM