Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Man cannot survive by military might alone...

Apparently military officials are beginning to be open with their realizations that they don't have all the solutions in Iraq. Posted today on, Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the former operational commander, has announced that the military is not capable of winning the peace in Iraq.

Instead, he indicated that the US should focus more on the economy and solving sectarian issues. To support his assertion that the US should be more concerned about the Iraqi economy, he noted that citizens must have something to look forward to, so to speak, other than continuing violence. He also argues that the military should be allowed to continue with its mission because it’s important to win this conflict.

To me, at least, these statements seem contradictory. How can we maintain our troop levels and continue to fight this fight and pursue a goal of stimulating the economy at the same time. Don't armed conflicts on the scale of the Iraq war (with approx. 145,000 Americans there at the moment) sort of negate the possibility of any meaningful economic stiumlus?

My personal opinion is that there shouldn't be a reduction of troops, but perhaps a reduction of their duties: a strong incentive for the Iraqi forces that are prepared to pick up the slack. On the other hand, we need some sort of significant economic stimulus. I'm not suggesting something on the scale of the Marshall Plan or anything, but some visible public aid package is a must to win over hearts and minds in a conflict that has so far gone so badly. If we really want Iraqis to accept democratic government, putting things in order economically must be a prerequisite. No question.

That means that Iraqis will have to live with violence for a little longer, yes, but a more stable and legitimate government will eventually be able to crush the insurgency. I wonder, however, if President Bush would be willing to consider such a strong alternative strategy. He's really shown a disinterest in showing any doubt in his original plan. I’ve been convinced of the need for a strong economic component to our Iraq policy since the beginning, but are our leaders prepared to go in that direction?

No comments: