Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Insurgency Getting Stronger? Drawdown Troops Then

Via Juan Cole:
The rate of attacks for July 2005 was 68 per day.

In the past week alone, 16 dead.

The rate of attacks for July 2004 was 47 per day.

Three things may be concluded. The US just is not winning this war. The various tipping points, including the Jan. 30 elections, haven't actually caused the situation to "tip." And, we're not being told about very many of the 68 attacks per day.
If the U.S. is indeed losing Iraq, what can the U.S. military do to ensure the tide is eventually turned against the insurgency? According to an article by Julian Barnes in U.S. News and World Report the answer is to drawdown U.S. troop levels.
There are a number of military reasons that the United States might want to make real efforts to shrink the size of its forces in Iraq, since some experts think fewer American soldiers might actually help the cause of stability. "My attitude is if someone isn't writing a plan to reduce the force, they should be," says retired Maj. Gen. William Nash, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "I believe a reduced profile will improve our chance of success over there."

There are at least two arguments about why less is more. The first is that a large American force gives insurgents a focus. The second argument is that Iraqi security forces will have a hard time stepping up to their jobs as long as they are overshadowed by more-skilled and better-equipped U.S. forces. A number of the American advisers who work most closely with Iraqi soldiers believe America must push up the timetable for handing responsibility to Iraqi units. The only way the Iraqis can really learn how to fight the insurgency and bring security to the country, the argument goes, is if the Americans give them the responsibility for doing it, rather than merely allowing the Iraqis to follow behind U.S. troops as they go on operations.
If this argument is true, then after the Constitution is ratified in October and Iraqis elect a new government in December, the U.S. should begin to bring home our soldiers. This would be good for two reasons. First, it would show Iraqis that we stayed only as long as we had to. With a Constitution and a democratically elected government, a continued coalition presence would begin to reek of old-time colonialism. (For Iraqis, that stench is already apparent with the privatization of their economy and upcoming cuts to their public subsidies.) Second, it would push the Iraqi security forces to ready themselves for their responsibility for maintaining security and defeating the insurgency. Any additional help should come from a U.N. security force made up of countries that did not support the initial invasion and occupation of Iraq. This would put Iraqis at ease considering how rightfully scared they are of becoming, yet again, a colonial outpost for oil.

The choice is ours, if we return Iraq to Iraqis, then we can return our soldiers to their families.