Democrats & Liberals Archives

An Opportunity

After almost three years of flailing, the Bush administration finally has a military strategy for Iraq that will work — only, they don’t know it yet.

A few weeks ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice quietly unveiled a new strategy for Iraq. They're finally going to deploy the type of civil/military Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) that are proving so successful in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, even as Dr. Rice met with representatives of the first three PRTs over the weekend, President Bush, the administration, the military, and the media have all been silent or muted on this change of course. In fact, President Bush seems to think it's better to attack his critics rather than trumpet this positive new development, and the military is still focusing on the unsuccessful sweep and retreat tactics they've used for the last couple years.

But this new strategy really could be a turning point in Iraq. As long as the country doesn't disintegrate into open civil war, and IF President Bush throws all the diplomatic and military resources necessary into this new program, there's a huge opportunity here to expel al Qaeda and secure Iraq.

Forget the fact that Iraq is neither a liberal democracy nor a free market economy; this is a chance to beat al Qaeda and leave with a "victory".

But like I say, no one is touting the new strategy and most people don't even realize there is one. Yet. In addition to being a military opportunity, the new initiative is also a political windfall for whoever grabs hold of it first.

The PRT idea for Iraq was originally broached by Democrats during last year's election (yes, it's another good Democratic idea Republicans have finally embraced, like cooperating with the EU on Iran, bi-laterally negotiating with North Korea, and treating the GWOT as "more of an intelligence and law enforcement operation"), so if President Bush continues his indifferent attitude to this new approach, I wouldn't be surprised to see Senator Reid and Representative Pelosi make some political hay over it.

Even if Democrats don't get credit for the original concept, they can still ride it to victory by aggressively adopting the idea and making President Bush look weak on it -- much like Kennedy showed America that Republicans were weak on Communism.

Judging by his lack of interest so far, I doubt President Bush will pursue the PRT strategy with all the vigor and resources necessary to make it work. Certainly the military has no interest in an "Operation Other Than War" such as this. But if Democrats aggressively get behind the new policy and really push President Bush and the Pentagon, this could be a big win for Democrats as well as America.

The PRT strategy really can expel al Qaeda and secure Iraq so that we can leave. The question is, who will step up and seize the opportunity?

Posted by American Pundit at November 15, 2005 6:50 AM