How To Change Iraq
The threshold question in any war is: What are we fighting for? Our troops, especially, deserve a convincing answer.And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for? The brave Americans are fighting and dying in Iraq to fix the mess George W. Bush created when he invaded Iraq with no plan as to what to do after the invasion. It is becoming obvious that George W. Bush broke it so badly that the US does not have the capability to fix it. Albright continues...
In Iraq, the list of missions that were tried on but didn't fit includes: protection from weapons of mass destruction, creating a model democracy in the Arab world, punishing those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks and stopping terrorists from catching the next plane to New York. The latest mission, linked to the "surge" of troops this year, was to give Iraqi leaders the security and maneuvering room needed to make stabilizing political arrangements -- which they have thus far shown little interest in doing.
A cynic might suggest that the military's real mission is to enable President Bush to continue denying that his invasion has evolved into disaster. A less jaded view might identify three goals: to prevent Iraq from becoming a haven for al-Qaeda, a client state of Iran or a spark that inflames regionwide war. These goals respond not to dangers that prompted the invasion but to those that resulted from it. Our troops are being asked to risk their lives to solve problems our civilian leaders created. The president is beseeching us to fear failure, but he has yet to explain how our military can succeed given Iraq's tangled politics and his administration's lack of credibility.
This disconnect between mission and capabilities should be at the center of debate as Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker report on the war's status and congressional leaders prepare their fall strategies. Despite the hopes of many, this debate is unlikely to end the war soon; nor will it produce fresh support for our present dismal course. Although U.S. troop levels will surely start to come down, big decisions about whether and under what circumstances to complete the withdrawal seem certain to remain for the next president, when he or she takes office. Yet this should not preclude Democrats and Republicans from trying to agree on ways to minimize the damage before then.Of course she is right but that won't happen while George W. Bush is in office.
According to the National Intelligence Estimate released last month, the recent modest but extremely hard-won military gains will mean little "unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments."
Given the depth of the sectarian divisions within Iraq, such a fundamental shift will not occur through Iraqi actions alone. Given America's lack of leverage, it will not result from our patrols, benchmarks, speeches or "surprise" presidential visits to Anbar province. That leaves coordinated international assistance as the only option.